Macfarlane on the Oscars: Funny, offensive, both, or neither?


Everyone’s buzzing about Seth Macfarlane’s performance hosting the Academy Awards last night. Such words as “sexist” and “racist” have been used.

But what did anyone expect? If anything, his material was significantly toned down from the stuff you can hear, and see depicted in cartoon form, on “The Family Guy” before prime time each evening. To call Macfarlane’s brand of humor sophomoric is to promote it several years past its middle-school level. That is, it’s the kind of humor you’d hear from a middle-schooler who was demonically quick and witty. Admittedly, Macfarlane’s material is the sort that makes people laugh, even if they’re feeling guilty while doing so.

Racism (we are all invited to laugh at Brian, the racist dog), graphic violence involving children, incest, and mockery of religion are pretty much standard fare on “The Family Guy.” (And at this point, I’m feeling pretty embarrassed for knowing all that.) Ditto with “Ted” — it’s funny, but don’t be fooled into letting the kids watch it just because it’s about a Teddy bear.

So explain to us why anyone would be shocked at his “We Saw Your Boobs” bit last night? From him, that’s pretty mild stuff.

At one point, a joke was made about how it would have been better to have engaged the services of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who co-hosted the Golden Globes. Hey, no joke — they would have made people laugh without cringing.

But seriously, if you engage the services of Seth Macfarlane, this is what you get, at the very least. No sense moaning about it afterward.

14 thoughts on “Macfarlane on the Oscars: Funny, offensive, both, or neither?

  1. die deutsche Flußgabelung

    Who watches the Oscars? It has to the world’s largest gathering of practitioners of omphaloskepsis. However I am a fan of Macfarlane’s TV shows, but boy was “Ted” not the biggest let down last year?

  2. JoanneH

    He didn’t annoy me. The whiners, er, winners, did with those lengthy speeches. I actually enjoyed Lawrence falling down. It was quite refreshing. 🙂

  3. susanincola

    We laughed at the sock puppets. Other than that, we muted McFarland. It’s not so much that he was offensive — he got me on unfunny long before I even thought about offensive.

  4. Rose

    Didn’t watch it. I’ve seen Family Guy, so I knew what to expect, and the clips that I’ve seen are typical of him. No one should be surprised that he was offensive. I think The Onion’s unbelievably crude and misogynistic tweet about 9 year old actress Quvenzhane Wallis took the prize for offensiveness.

  5. Burl Burlingame

    McFarlane performed exactly as expected — a combination of crude, pointed humor and incredible quickness and pop -culture references.

  6. Doug Ross

    Watched the whole show. I thought MacFarlane was a nice change of pace. He was hit-or-miss in my opinion. Movie stars need a little skewering every now and then. Some people can take a joke, others cannot. I could have done without the extended William Shatner bit – I don’t recall ever finding him even mildly entertaining in any role. Anyway, there’s nothing MacFarlane said that was any worse than all those stars, agents, directors, and producers have said about each other behind each others backs.

  7. Dave Crockett

    Macfarlane was typically Macfarlane. A few mildly funny bits, some tasteless ones (esp. the Lincoln/Booth one), but nowhere nearly as crude and funny as Family Guy (as an admittedly guilty pleasure that show is for me).

    Now, Daniel Day Lewis was the REAL comedian with his comments about his being sought for the Maggie Thatcher role and Meryl Streep for the Lincoln job (as she stood guffawing in the background)! That’s entertainment!

    This was the first time in >20 years that I’ve watched the Oscars…even a few minutes of them. One of the joys of partial retirement…getting to stay up past the 10 o’clock news…

  8. JesseS

    So I guess this means we are going back into the Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Crystal and Steve Martin cycle.

    Didn’t bother watching. Not out of disdain or hate for the entertainment industry or anything. My wife always made a big deal out of the Academy Awards. She loved to Invite friends over, lots of cooking, playing dress up; the whole bellinis and hors d’oeuvres bit.

    Man, did she love that. The first year we were broke and living in a trailer in a sketchy part of town. She begged and begged for just $20. Promising she’d stretch it and make it memorable. Cheap champagne, peaches, chicken tenders/peanut butter (-I mean satay), rice, canned pineapple, a coconut (whole!), a few votives and a gown she managed to haggle a Goodwill employee down on. She kept her word so I borrowed a hat and coat with tails from the local theater company and we were Fred and Ginger for a night.

    Not sure if she would have been big on Macfarlane or not.

  9. JoanneH

    I’m not sure what people expected. It’s like that old story about the man who saved the snake and then is later bitten by the snake. When he expresses shock that the snake would bite him, the snake replies, “You knew I was a snake when you saved me.”

    McFarlane says he won’t do it again anyway.

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