I'm not a big fan of the Academy Awards broadcast. I used to be but somewhere along the line, I simply lost interest. At some point I guess that the list of how I could better spend three and a half hours finally got so long that I couldn't ignore it anymore.
I am, however, a big fan of Seth MacFarlane. I've watched Family Guy since the beginning, and I have been a fan of American Dad since it premiered as well. It took me a season or so to get into The Cleveland Show, but I'm there now. Ted was awesome, and the dialog on the Family Guy pinball machine was so hilarious I had to get one for my arcade. It's freakin' sweet (to borrow a phrase).
So when I saw that Seth MacFarlane was hosting the Oscars this year, I made it a point to watch it... on Hulu the next day. (Come on! Between The Walking Dead and The Amazing Race and the Carolina Hurricanes game, the "better stuff to do" list was still too long to even consider watching the Oscars live.)
I have to say that, for the first time in a long time, the show held my interest. I enjoyed MacFarlane's off-color take on his hosting duties. It was basically the Academy Awards, Family Guy Style. In other words, exactly what I expected it to be. What ANYONE should have expected it to be.
Weird thing is, a lot of people were really freaking upset by MacFarlane's humor. And it wasn't that they were pooh-poohing his immaturity (heh heh... I said "pooh-pooh"). They were going right for the jugular! They called him misogynistic. Amy Richardson of the New Yorker said MacFarlane had "...a specific hostility to women in the workplace."
They railed against him for a Chris Brown/Rihanna joke ("Domestic violence is not a joke!"). They said his song, "We Saw Your Boobs" (a goofy ditty highlighting movies where actresses appeared topless) was joking about rape. He made a joke about Zero Dark Thirty, where Jessica Chastain plays a tenacious agent who spends over a decade hunting down Bin Laden, saying it's a tribute to every "woman's innate ability to never ever let anything go." The response: he's a sexist!
Jeez! Get a sense of humor, people!
I'll be the first to admit that MacFarlane's brand of humor isn't everybody's cup of Pawtucket Patriot, but his work is on display for all to see for an hour and a half every Sunday night. (Or at least the ones on which a bloated, over-produced award show isn't taking over the airwaves.) The producers hired him. They knew what they were doing...
...and what they were doing was boosting ratings. The 2013 Oscars had the highest ratings since 2007, thanks in no small part to the choice of host. It got me to watch (a day late), and I've been bored silly by the Oscars for a very long time.
I spent the afternoon arguing on and off with friends who think that my criticism of the lack of humor exhibited by the MacFarlane critics today was out of line. Some felt that the Academy Awards were a family-oriented broadcast, and thus shouldn't have off-color humor. Others thought that the glamor and dignity of an occasion that celebrates the creativity and achievements of others is marred by MacFarlane's brand of base humor.
I totally disagree.
I don't think the Academy Awards have ever been an all-inclusive, bring the whole family kind of broadcast. We're talking over three hours of speeches and over-long musical and dance performances and stars that can't deliver a punch line properly even when it's written in 100-point type on the teleprompter in front of them. The Oscars are BORING! What kid is going to sit still for that long just to see which animated film won? And do they really care about that anyway?
And, while we're on the subject of family-friendly content, let’s look at some of the films that have taken Best Picture over the years. The Godfather (1 and 2). The Exorcist. Chinatown. A Clockwork Orange. Midnight Cowboy. None of these films are movies that any parent should be letting kids who are too young for Seth MacFarlane's humor to see—yet scenes from these films are shown on the broadcast, and the themes of the films are discussed on the broadcast. These are adult films. Hell, Midnight Cowboy was actually rated X when it was released!
As to the dignity of the occasion, I say that's long gone. The days when the Oscars were a celebration of the glitz and glamor of Hollywood have given way to an Access: Hollywood world. People are more interested in stories about the latest Lindsay Lohan nip slip or drunken car chase, and what (or who) Kim Kardashian is doing than they are about stories of rising starlets who are becoming the darlings of the silver screen.
Whereas a celebrity's fall from grace used to be shocking and something that film fans hated to see, it's now what the masses crave. It's insanely hypocritical to bust Seth MacFarlane for off-color jokes that embarrass stars when the stars so often make themselves the butt of the joke.
Let's face it, folks. The Oscars are just another awards show in a cavalcade of awards shows these days. The demographic that Hollywood is trying to reach with the Academy Award broadcast--and with the movies that are getting all of the awards, for that matter--is, today, the same demographic who will be happy that Family Guy is back with all new episodes next Sunday.
So how about we get off our high horses and give Seth MacFarlane a break? He did exactly what he was expected to do: brought in millions more viewers and gave us an Oscars broadcast laced with his own brand of off-color humor.
Hey, if you really hated it that much, you could have turned on AMC and watched The Walking Dead instead. That's what remote controls are for.