Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Post Oscars Bile

So the internet today is full of rage at Seth McFarland - in case you somehow managed to miss it, he hosted the Oscars this year and said some awful things. I wasn't surprised by this in the slightest - pissing people off in the name of humour is what MacFarlane is known for. You hire Prince, and you're going to get kick ass noodly guitar solos, you hire MacFarlane and you're going to get offensive jokes. I'm not interested in debating whether what he said was right or wrong - everything people are outraged by is totally fair and understandable. What I don't think is right is that all the blame is sitting squarely on MacFarlane.

Not a lone gunman

Sure, he (and his writing team) came up with the routines, and performed them. But The Oscars is a highly planned, highly choreographed event. Someone came up with the idea of hiring him, knowing full well what he was likely to do. After all, none of what happened at The Oscars was out of character for him - it was actually relatively tame compared to American Dad and Family Guy. (Which I do actually watch and enjoy a lot of the time, despite his tendency to take a joke too far.) Someone knew what he was going to do, and out of all the hosts they could have had, they decided on him. Someone signed off on everything he said and did. Someone, more likely a committee of someone's, looked at the "We Saw Your Boobs" song, and all the rest of it, and said okay. Someone was given his plan to film the boobs song beforehand so they could spring it on the actresses mentioned, and said "Yes, that will be hilarious". You're kidding yourself if you think someone of MacFarlane's stature could put pressure on the Oscar planning committee to go ahead with jokes they didn't like. Every joke was there because someone other than MacFarlane also signed off on it.

Why would they do that, you might ask? Why would they let someone as notoriously offensive as MacFarlane do his thing in front of a global audience? I'm going to guess there were two reasons at the core of the decision making. Firstly, they thought what he was doing was funny. Or at least funny enough to be worth upsetting people. It's quite possible they were also attempting what is generally referred to as "click-baiting" - being awful just to gather attention, because ANY attention is good attention. But personally, I think at least the majority of the committee genuinely thought he was being funny. Maybe there is increasing annoyance in the planning committee at having to treat female actors serious these days, and that's why they were so tickled by the idea of mocking them for getting their tits out - "Tee hee, you think you're serious actresses but we're really just jerking it to your rape scene!" Charming. It would certainly explain the increasingly misogynist tone of The Oscars over recent years.

I know! Let's talk about BEWBS!
Secondly, the planning committee knew they could send MacFarlane out front to say all the horrible things they wish they could say with complete impunity, while they sit sniggering like schoolboys in the green room. This kind of cowardice is actually worse than MacFarlanes "humour", to my mind. At least he owns his actions. He is willing to defend his point of view, as misguided as it might be, and own up to it. He has been putting out his kind of humour for some years now, and has always been happy to defend it publicly. But somewhere there is a group of people who chose him, paid him, and I'm willing to bet, encouraged him to say awful things, and then don’t even have the guts to admit they thought his actions were funny, or at the very least, acceptable enough.

This is not to say MacFarlane should be excused - he was an asshole. But I think it's gross that there are a group of people who are just as much to blame as him and are getting off scot free.

(One positive note - I did love the big musical numbers, and I feel pretty guilty about that)


  1. I'm probably the only person in the world who really couldn't give a rat's ass about the Oscars, and while everyone else was watching the show, I was tuned in to 'Worst Cooks in America' (which, by the way, is TOTALLY awesome). I think you hit the nail on the head: Seth Macfarlane is the evil genius behind Family Guy, American Dad, and Ted (all of which I love). I think the dude is hilarious in his offensiveness and while yes, he goes waaaaay too far with some of his jokes, the whole thing is that HE IS JOKING. It's meant to be funny. Even if he acted like an asshole at the Oscars, you're absolutely right that he was an empowered asshole and a lot of people made decisions that they're now shrinking away from. And, bottom line? It's an awards show for people who get paid a shit ton of money to play pretend on camera. Let's stop taking things so seriously, folks.

    1. I'm the other person who can't give a flying fart in a hurricane about the Oscars. Never watched them, never will.

    2. It's true that there are much bigger problems for feminism out there - for example, a woman was burned alive in PNG just a little while ago for being a "witch", just as one incident right off the top of my head. But I also don't think we can dismiss something as widely watched as The Oscars as insignificant either. The sheer amount of comment this has generated suggests to me that while it IS just an awards show, it's something a LOT of people still pay attention to. Which to my mind, means they should be at least a little bit accountable for the messages they are putting out there.

  2. I notice that although these days women have more equal access to education and jobs, even young girls are encouraged to dress like sex objects. If you don't put it all out there, you're "ugly" and a "prude."
    The obsession with breasts is ludicrous. Yet if a woman is nursing a baby, that's "disgusting." Utter hypocrisy.

    1. Yeah, the endless debate of whether to get your tits out or not, and how much, and in what context drives me a bit mental. They're just lumps of fatty flesh. Seriously, NOT that big a deal. There was actually a cafe here in Sydney that tried to throw a woman out for breastfeeding, and the social blowback was quite gratifying to see.


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