I’m a huge fan of award show season. In ranking the months of the year, I’d say February might actually be near the top, thanks to all of the award shows. Of course I love the glitz and glamor of Hollywood; I love seeing all my favorite celebrities looking their best and I do indulge in the extremely materialistic viewing of the red carpet. What I love most about award show season, though, is that the people who have spent their year working all hours of the day and night—prepping for roles, editing film and sound, writing phenomenal scripts and screenplays ,and doing everything else Hollywood does—finally get the recognition they deserve. I think it’s normal to enjoy watching the shows for the award content, but the host and the media surrounding it seriously affect the disposition of the show.
The host typically opens with a monologue, which sets the mood for the show. This year at the Oscars, host Seth MacFarlane, unfortunately, set off a lot of triggers. The job of a show host is earned—it is rewarded to somebody who is well-known in the Hollywood community.
They’ve worked hard for many years and have earned their right to be introducing some of the biggest names in the world. Obviously, Seth MacFarlane has had a pretty big impact on the comedy scene for quite a while. Being a triple threat--creator, writer and actor—MacFarlane has earned his Hollywood credit. However, in a setting like the Oscars, there’s a certain amount of professionalism and respect that is required, and that’s really where MacFarlane crossed the line. A lot of his jokes dealt with racism, misogyny and other touchy topics. He opened, as usual, with a description of each film in the best picture category, making some pretty rough jokes about “Django Unchained” and “Lincoln.” The monologue then turned to Captain Kirk from Star Trek “beaming” into the show warning MacFarlane that he was going to take it too far. Using examples, like a song entitled “We Saw Your Boobs” and a sock puppet reenactment of “Flight,” William Shatner narrated MacFarlane’s journey from being the worst Oscar host ever to a “mediocre” one, which I will pretty much agree with.
Obviously, Seth MacFarlane’s comedic style has always been a bit lewd—anybody who has ever seen an episode of “Family Guy” or the movie “Ted” knew that from the start. Unfortunately, the Oscar writers tailored most of the show toward that style. While it’s funny sometimes, it also tends to cross the line between acceptable and racy.
For me, the host’s script really lowered the quality of the Oscars because the humor was based on the exploitation of some very serious issues, even though some were used as a reference of inappropriate behavior. I acknowledge that many reactions on the show were pre-filmed and that MacFarlane was not in charge of all the writing, but the principle still stands that everyone’s idea of humor is different and, for me, MacFarlane’s hosting was distasteful and annoying in context.
Another huge controversy that exploded on Sunday night related to everyone’s favorite satiric news source, The Onion. Throughout the night, it felt like the social media director had a keyboard in one hand and a handle in the other. A decent amount of offensive tweets were published in the short time span of the show, most of which linked to articles like: “Commentary By Daniel Day-Lewis—While I’m Glad I Won, I Personally Believe Abraham Lincoln Deserved To Die” and “Oscars Fashion Report: Kathryn Bigelow Stuns On Red Carpet Wearing Blood-Soaked Rags Osama Bin Laden Was Killed In”.
It’s hard to believe, but The Onion outdid itself, tweeting, “Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a c*nt, right?” This is another situation where I’m not sure what the worst part is—the fact that they’re using the word or the fact that somebody had to tell a 9-year old that a media source, even with the intention of joking, said that about her.
I read an interesting article in the Huffington Post while doing research for this piece explaining that The Onion actually did us a favor with this one—they pointed out how we, as a whole, regard women in the public eye. While I understand the concept, I don’t agree with the action at all. The point of satire is to highlight the serious flaws with its topic, this being the crudeness with which we judge celebrities for their actions. I think The Onion took it a step too far by aiming it at Wallis.
All in all, The Oscars were a pretty big disappointment for me this year. It’s sad that a massive media event can be so swayed, but I guess that’s show business.
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