Chet Greason, Popcornucopia
I’d like to write this week about the Oscars. I know I just wrote two Oscar-related articles leading up to the event, but I’d like to address the ceremony itself. After all, have you seen the crap in theatres right now?
Specifically, I’d like to address the criticism surrounding Seth MacFarlane’s hosting job. The creator of Family Guy seemed an odd choice from the get-go; short of cameos, he’s really only been involved in one film. His television programs (not to mention that one film, Ted) have all been exercises in gross-out and offensive humour. Bob Hope he ain’t.
That said, those familiar with him know, for all his classless humour, the man himself has a real classy streak. He’s a formally trained singer and pianist and a Sinatra-esque crooner. He even released an album of big band standards. In short, he’s a tux-rocking, out-of-time Rat Packer with a penchant for vomit jokes.
From a fan’s standpoint, the Academy got exactly what they were hoping for from MacFarlane: They got the soft-shoe and the crooning as a throw-back to Hollywood’s gilded history; but they also got a toned-down version of MacFarlane’s trademark humour. “Toned down?!” you exclaim. “He sang a song about boobs!” Yes, I know he did. Believe me. It was toned down. This was MacFarlane tip-toeing.
So why such a backlash? Last year’s major criticism of host Billy Crystal was that he was too bland, and now MacFarlane’s too spicy? I feel those who are complaining about the potty humour, if his jokes could actually be considered potty humour, are likely the same kind of people who will never be pleased with an Oscar host until the day Johnny Carson rises from his grave to takes the helm.
Still more barbs have been vaulted at MacFarlane on charges of sexism, but I would challenge people to rethink that accusation by analyzing the two routines most cited for misogyny: His “We Saw Your Boobs” song and the “flu” remark.
Besides the Boobs song being totally meta — that is, MacFarlane riffing on how bad a hosting job he was expected to do — it also makes fun of the women who disrobe to garner the Academy’s praise. The high number of nude scenes in roles nominated for Best Actress awards is a problem that’s been frequently discussed and railed against in this column. MacFarlane, through satire, hauled the Academy’s own pervy standards, and those who enable them, out in the open for all to see.
Likewise, his joke about actresses giving themselves “the flu” in order to fit into their dresses shone a big light on Hollywood’s obsession with unhealthy body imaging. MacFarlane could’ve made fun of actress Melissa McCarthy or singer Adele for their figures, but he didn’t…because there’s nothing wrong with them. However, there is something wrong with eating disorders being par for the course for those we take our social cues from. It’s not sexist to belittle the skinny waifs too often mislabelled as “beautiful.” If everyone were to call them ugly in unison, your daughters might be less inclined to emulate them.
The same goes for the rest of the jokes that critics have said “went too far.” Look at the people MacFarlane made fun of: Mel Gibson? Chris Brown? These are despicable people. He could’ve attacked any number of helpless targets, but he chose to focus on hateful and violent thugs.
Logical thinkers recognize real racism and sexism when they hear it. MacFarlane tread a fine line, reserving the best zingers for those who truly deserved it. I think he did a fine job.
Case in point, he introduced Meryl Streep by stating “Our next presenter needs no introduction,” and then promptly walked off stage. If that’s not funny, what is?