Did Seth Macfarlane’s Oscar Performance Go Too Far?


Last night’s Oscars host Seth Macfarlane was extremely polarizing: some felt he was incredibly misogynistic, others felt he was hilarious. From singing songs like “We Saw Your Boobs” about seeing actresses’ breasts to making jokes about Quvenzhané Wallis being “too old” for George Clooney not too long from now, he made considerably more controversial cracks than, say, James Franco last year (who kinda just resembled a stoner craving In N Out the whole time). But were Macfarlane’s remarks too sexist to be considered comedic?

Anybody who’s familiar with Family Guy (or any of the other incredibly similar shows) knows that Macfarlane’s particular brand of humor is crass, crude and continuously obnoxious. As somebody who watched his shows all through high school and college, I definitely think he can be both funny and incredibly unfunny simultaneously better than most comedians. There’s a lot of bodily humor, rape jokes, domestic violence gags, racial remarks and other such comedy, though there’s also tons of hilarity all over his work (you just have to sort through/ignore the other stuff).

However, when it comes to the Academy Awards, a certain level of grounding is necessary for the humor to be considered funny for people other than 13-year-old boys, and many people did not find anything amusing about Macfarlane’s sexist jokes. In particular, the sexualization of Wallis, the song about seeing women’s breasts, slavery-related humor and domestic abuse remark. Although people were apparently very pleased that he looks like a member of the Brady Bunch.

seth macfarlane

As for his fellow celebrities, the general reaction was positive. Folks like Russell CroweRainn Wilson and Patton Oswalt congratulated him on being a great host. Kristen Chenoweth voiced her excitement to have sang with him. When Twitter got a-crackin’ at Macfarlane, Piers Morgan came to his defense by tweeting, “Amused by Twitter indignation to @SethMacFarlane cracking bad taste jokes. He created Family Guy, not Glee. #Oscars”. While I understand that nobody expected him to be Bill Cosby, I think that using the, “Well, he’s ALWAYS misogynistic, so it doesn’t count if he is again!” excuse is sort of tired. That’d be like saying, “Chris Brown is ALWAYS an asshole, who cares if he directs violent messages towards women still?” Of course, there will always be those who don’t care that Brown is an asshole, but I digress.

Unfortunately, a lot of humor in Hollywood is directed towards or at the expensive of women, their bodies, their sexuality and their intelligence. Yes, there are those who joke about men similarly, but it is doubtful that any 9-year-old boys were called “cunts” this year or that next year’s show will include a “We Saw Your Dick” tune or that anybody included a joke about a woman IRL beating her boyfriend bloody. Even if it is all “in good humor,” does it not freak anybody else out that in four of the movies Seth Macfarlane’s “We Saw Your Boobs” song referenced, the woman he’s referring to was raped?

Funny — well, not really funny but I’m gonna tell it anyway — story: I was at a karaoke bar in downtown LA a couple years ago. Seth Macfarlane comes to this particular place on occasion, has some drinks with various other successful film people and sings a few songs. To be completely honest, he is very good looking and very charming in real life, and watching him sing about sperm in person was pretty wonderful. But even so, he still seemed — emphasis on “seemed,” as I am obviously not capable of judging somebody’s entire personality based on one impression — annoyed at everybody around him and completely disinterested in being a people pleaser. Is this accurate? I have no idea. But it does make me kind of view his Oscars performance in a different light; as opposed to being some asshole who just wants to make douchebags laugh, it seems like he’s just some asshole who feels the need to continue playing a character. But again: who knows?

Look, as much as I think Macfarlane is a funny person who deserves the majority of his success, I just didn’t find a lot of his humor funny. I get that “that’s what you sign up for” when you decide to watch an awards show hosted by him, but um, do misogynistic jokes have to be part of the Oscars? Why does that have to be something expected and accepted unconditionally because “that’s just the way it is”? I will admit, he did some portions very well, and he is personable enough — particularly when you are buzzed enough to ignore his more obnoxious remarks — to be considered a decent host.

All that said, however: can’t Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and Jon Stewart just host everything? Or Ian Somerhalder‘s jawline. That would be okay with me, as well.

Photo supplied by WENN.

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    • adamfox

      Would have been awesome if Seth had hosted opposite Fey and Poehler and they just spent the whole evening one upping each other. Then at the end, Jennifer Lawrence kills Seth with a bow and arrow and all the women go home with Jack Nicholson.

      • JenP

        I want to like this a million times

      • http://www.facebook.com/sameurysm Samantha Escobar

        You are the best, Adam.

    • Val20

      IMO, I think the whole thing is being blown out of proportion. Yes it was not always funny and at times distasteful, but I don’t think there was any real harm done. Please do not tell me I am sexist (btw I’m a woman), racist, homophobic. I did not enjoy all the jokes but I was not offended by any of them…

      • Bentia

        Just for the record, being a woman does not mean that you can’t be sexist.

      • Val20

        I know.

    • jamiepeck

      Ew, no, he does NOT look like that Brady bunch kid. Because that would mean he looks like my boyfriend. Which he does not.

    • JennyWren

      I thought the biggest problem with his performance was that it was entirely tone-deaf. The “We Saw Your Boobs” song was obviously meant to be a parody of the misogyny that women in the media encounter every day and the way they get treated differently to their male counterparts; and if it had been part of a sketch show, or a Producers-style parody film, I would have thought it was great. But the Oscars is not, at least for the people involved, a comedy show or a parody, and it just came across as mean-spirited, part of an industry which routinely demands that women appear sexual and then punishes them for it.

      I don’t think saying “it’s a joke!” or “it’s satire!” gets him off the hook either. It was poorly executed satire; the jokes flopped.

      I think Macfarlane is a very talented individual, but he’s gotten stuck in the same creative groove. His performance at the Oscars reminded me of an angsty teenager who’s been invited to a family event- everyone’s hoping and praying they won’t act out just for a couple of hours but they know it’s only a matter of time before he calls his father a dick.

    • Amy

      “But even so, he still seemed — emphasis on “seemed,” as I am obviously not capable of judging somebody’s entire personality based on one impression — annoyed at everybody around him and completely disinterested in being a people pleaser. Is this accurate?”

      You could be right, but this isn’t necessarilly all that telling. I have a friend who is a well-known radio personality and while he loves making people laugh, it can be incredibly tiring to have to be “on” all the time. I mean, if you’re known for being funny you’re kind of pressured to be funny ALL THE TIME. That would make me annoyed.

    • Izza

      Would it have been okay if he’d suggested that Kate Winslet’s boobs host the Oscars next year? Or is it only acceptable to reduce men to body parts?