I've been reading a lot of bad reviews over Seth MacFarlane's stint as the Oscars' host on Sunday night. While I do understand some of the issues raised, I think that (for a bunch of folks) there is this general atmosphere of paranoia that comes with the right to freedom of speech. Thankfully that right exists, because there is a long list of inspirational voices that have used it to be heard, many of them having altered our planet forever. Without a doctrine of such magnitude, we could never be able to say whatever it is we want to say... even if it includes the act of offending someone. So, shut the fuck up critics! Sorry, I felt the need to exercise my rights.
If you've ever seen Family Guy than you knew it was almost guaranteed that Seth MacFarlane was poised to offend lots of people. After all, isn't that why Family Guy is so wildly popular? MacFarlane taps into a culture of cynics that think and say exactly what Peter Griffin and his deformed son Stewie are spewing out every Sunday night. We laugh because caustic humor is hilarious! It's never politically correct, but it's almost always spot on (which is why we laugh). Perhaps the critics panning MacFarlane are clouding the fact that the Oscar numbers were higher this year than they've been in the past three years (40 million viewers.)
Granted, I'm no clairvoyant, but I am a huge MacFarlane fan, and even I saw this train wreck of reviews coming long before it arrived. One has to believe that MacFarlane saw it as well, which is probably why he included that dreadful William Shatner bit at the top of the show. Let's face it folks: The reason why Seth MacFarlane was hosting the Academy Awards in the first place is not just because he's a button-pusher, but because he's a button-pusher with movie-star good looks! He'll make us wince, but once we've recovered, there will still be an attractive host standing there with a smile that harkens "forgive me!" By the way, when's the last time you saw Matt Groening host an awards show?
The Academy Awards is a stuffy institution that is as current as an Eddie Murphy blockbuster and it's pretty clear that the new producers wanted to play Frankenstein by injecting a little life back into the corpse we call The Academy Awards! It's an award show, not a State of the Union address. Some critics even slammed our First Lady's surprise appearance, citing that she didn't mention the military men and women behind her! For a broadcast already running overtime, I thought that the First Lady worked those few moments like a pro and the fact that those men and women were standing right behind her was visually, as powerful a statement as any for me. Perhaps those same reviewers would have been happier had the First Lady been sitting in the blue room knitting a sweater for Natasha and Malia!
I do understand the concern that the Academy Awards is a global program that is seen by a couple billion viewers across the world and that some of those countries might not know a whole lot about the way in which our culture (especially Hollywood) pokes fun of itself. Perhaps the unintentional defamation of Jews, men and women of color, gays and women's rights might bring a fraction of that audience to the land of bewilderment, but as I see it, if someone in a third-world country is watching the Oscars, I sort of doubt that they're going to be blogging about this "travesty" anytime soon. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure these people probably know more about our culture than the large majority of residents who live in it.
Suffice it to say, there were quite a few organizations crying foul over MacFarlane's hosting abilities and many of their complaints have merit, but it did leave me wondering, where was the CCTB (Coalition for Cuddly Teddy Bears)?
Our plate is full of media craziness and as long as we're breathing life into it, the simple fact remains -- it is a huge success for those who wanted it to be, regardless of what any of us say, good or bad.
Should Seth MacFarlane stay behind the camera and focus on what he's best at? Of course he should... but he has every right to spread his genius wings and fly -- even if he ends up flying over a swamp of duck hunters!