Haven't blogged in an age--been busy with my day job and with writing stuff that I have a hope of getting paid for one day.
So, fortunately, I was too busy with stuff to wade into the post-Oscar fray while it was still a hot topic, and I've had some time to consider my reactions rather than just popping off with something designed to piss off the easily-pissed-off. (Why is this such a temptation? Isn't pissing off the sanguine a more lofty goal? But I digress.)
Full disclosure: I freaking hate Family Guy. I didn't see Ted. And like everyone else in America, I've never watched American Dad. While I'll admit that there are some funny moments on Family Guy, they are just way outweighed for me by the unfunny jokes, which are often cruel. I don't have a problem with politically incorrect humor--big fan of Archer and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, for example--but there's a mean-spiritedness to Family Guy that I can't stand.
So, okay. I pretty much knew what to expect when I heard Seth MacFarlane was hosting the Oscars.
But it seems like a lot of people didn't. The reaction to the show on my Twitter and Facebook feeds was one of vitriolic hatred, which I get, and shock, which I don't get. This is what the guy does. They hired him to do what he does, and he did it.
I'm not going to tell anybody they shouldn't be offended about anything. But I don't think anyone should have been surprised.
If you were surprised by Seth MacFarlane's performance, I'd like to suggest that you are spending too much time in your bubble. This seems to be one of the biggest dangers of the internet--I think it has the potential to shrink, rather than expand our perspectives by allowing us to only have contact with people who agree with us or are interested in the same things as we are.
Pick your niche interest: it would be easy to construct a sizeable twitter feed comprised only of people who share that interest. And because these people are all over the country and the world, it is easy to start thinking that everybody shares this interest. But that doesn't make it true. Just to give an example: the name Mal Reynolds means nothing to most of the people in the world. But you'd never know that to look at my twitter feed.
I just read this interview with Newt Gingrich where he talks about being blindsided by the election results because he, like so many of us, was spending too much time in his bubble, talking and listening only to people who agreed with him. It turned out that the rest of the country wasn't on board with that version of reality.
All of which is to say that I think it's really important to keep talking and listening to people we don't agree with and who don't share our backgrounds and interests. I think this might actually be a value to Facebook that I haven't appreciated fully. Most of us are connected to people we were in the same space with at the same time--college or high school or grade school classmates, former co-workers, etc--many of whom don't share our world view. I'm not suggesting getting into lots of facebook fights because those are pointless, but I do think it's valuable to see what people are saying, if only to remind ourselves that it's a pretty big world with a lot of diversity of opinion and interest.
On to boobs. I get why people were pissed off by the song. I don't get why they're not pissed off at the reality behind it. Most of the women he named were best actress winners. Why does nearly every woman have to take her top off in order to be an A-List actress? Isn't that kind of screwed up? Some of the women he named showed their boobs in rape scenes. I'm wondering if nudity is actually necessary in a rape scene, or even if so many rape scenes are necessary. Why didn't he do a "we saw your dong" song? Because it's a much shorter list. Jamie Foxx, Harvey Keitel, Viggo Mortensen, um....Which is not Seth MacFarlane's fault. I think it would be giving him too much credit to say he did the song in order to point out the screwed up gender politics of Hollywood, but I do think the fact that women have to be naked in order to be successful in that industry is probably a bigger problem than his stupid song.
I saw the same thing with most of the jokes he made. Rihanna and Chris Brown's relationship is really disturbing on a deep level, and I don't think that makes it off-limits for jokes. That joke was a pretty nasty dig at an abusive relationship. And if we're taking nasty digs at anybody's relationship (which every awards show host is going to do), why not start with the most screwed up one?
Similarly with the bulimia joke. Women were starving themselves and/or puking to get into those dresses. Which is really screwed up and which, if we watch red carpet coverage or dish about the dresses on social media, we're complicit in. I actually thought this joke was pretty sharp because it reminded us of the ugly reality of the pretty spectacle.
Having said that, I thought the show as a whole was pretty much of a dud, but then it always is. And as for Seth MacFarlane's hosting job, it was exactly what I expected based on his other work: moments of brilliance, like the Sally Field bit, marred by a lot of stupidity and cruelty.