Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Oscars 2013: In defense of Seth MacFarlane...

...of whom I had very, very low expectations going into Oscars night:

in my humble opinion,

-he did not flame out
-his opening monologue was actually pretty funny (though, like the night overall, it went on too long)
-he has a nice voice, and is rather easy on the eyes
-those jokes he made that have been decried as sexist, bigoted, etc., struck me at the time as being satirical and (perhaps overly) meta, continuing the theme set by the Shatner-from-the-future gag. As in "ta-daah, here are all your WORST FEARS of what I'd say/do as Oscars host!"

That said, on that last point: it's one thing to be meta or satirical, it's another to be, you know, funny. And for the most part, after his monologue, his jokes through the rest of the night were not funny. Ergo, not worth the risk of pissing off half of Hollywood and the media (many of whom already had their knives out for MacFarlane before he even got on the stage).

To be fair, as the night dragged on interminably it was hard to tell whether it was MacFarlane's delivery falling flat, or the material, or simply fatigue brought on by the fact that by 10:00 pm we seemed to be less than a third of a way through the awards. (I did laugh at the "Sound of Music" joke.)

At the end of the day, I think that under the circumstances MacFarlane did as well as he could have done with what he was given. Which is more than I can say of some past hosts (cough cough JAMES FRANCO cough cough).

Other random observations:

-Some very tight races, and a few real surprises, plus many musical numbers (which I normally love) somehow did not conceal the fact that it was a rather dull night. The crowd I was with mostly tuned out the acceptance speeches after about 15 seconds. One exception: Daniel Day-Lewis, who was unexpectedly funny and charming.

-I could have watched Channing Tatum and Charlize Theron dance for, well, pretty much the rest of the night.

-Many awesome women-in-song, which I'd normally approve, except they contributed to the overall LENGTH of the ceremony. Still, kudos to all of them, and apologies to the great Shirley Bassett on behalf of my friends, who mostly talked through her Bond tribute performance. From what I could tell, she started out kind of rough but finished strong.

-What was with all the long-locked male Oscar winners? It was like a collection of Lord of the Rings elves - or the clan of Lucius Malfoy.

-I don't care what anyone says, I love Anne Hathaway. But I do wish she had picked a different dress.

-Fashions generally: unremarkable. My hat's off to the lovely Naomi Watts for taking a risk with her space-agey dress, which, I gotta say, kind of worked for her. And how adorable was little Quvenzhane Wallis and her little puppy purse? Darling.

-"Jaws" music to wave off overly loquacious winners? Genius. Though as always, it's annoying how unequally grace time is allotted to winners depending on their general status/level of fame.

-First Lady's appearance: if that's what she wants to do with her free time, that's her prerogative; it's not like *she's* the one who's got a nation to run. But it was still very random. Were the show's producers trying to one-up the Golden Globes appearance of Bill Clinton?

Also, I don't know what it says about me that rather than being indignant at any supposed frivolity on MObama's part, any (very mild) annoyance I felt was rooted in a vague sense that she wasn't the right person to present the Best Picture award, that it should have been someone with deeper connections to the movie industry. That she was, in short, an interloper, albeit a cool one. Which probably just shows I take the Oscars too seriously.


Blogger Alex said...

I'm going to slightly disagree with you about Seth MacFarlane's performance at the Oscars. I did think some of the jokes he made worked, including ones people have objected to (e.g. John Wilkes Booth "getting inside" Lincoln's head followed by "still too soon?"), but tilting the majority towards sexist, racist, homophobic, and anti-semitic stereotypes works far better in the clearly satirical context of Family Guy than at a live awards show with a much wider audience. If you're going to position yourself as meta or satirical, you're treading a very fine line and you better either be funny while making culture the target of the joke (see Colbert) or totally go the other way and antagonize people (a la Andy Kaufman). Obviously the latter option won't fly for the Oscars, so MacFarlane needed to go the first route, and I think he failed pretty badly if that was his aim at all and he wasn't just being his asshole self. Others have dissected this better than me:
(in particular, the link to the Atlantic)

...and on the subject of treading that fine line, this is an excellent break down of the distinction between well-executed satire and obnoxious crap:

7:06 AM  
Blogger lylee2 said...

Actually, I don't think we disagree all that strongly. I agree that, at least beyond the opening monologue, his satire largely failed because it just wasn't funny - in that setting it came across as obnoxious in a kind of lame, half-assed way. But I'm not sure how much of that was his fault. Anyway, he never made me mad, he just made me roll my eyes. Believe me, I'm enraged at how entrenched sexism is in our society, but I just can't get that exercised about Seth MacFarlane being its mouthpiece. At best he's a not-very-interesting symptom, not a diseease.

So I guess my reaction isn't all that different from that of Jezebel or the Atlantic, either.

Colbert should totally host the Oscars. Unfortunately, that will never happen.

11:13 AM  

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