Short Answer: I thought it was funny.
You know that feeling, where you are standing in the middle of the room, laughing at a joke, and you realize that you are the only one laughing? Erg. I had that feeling Oscar night. See, I laughed and laughed at Seth MacFarlane’s jokes. I am still giggling about the We Saw Your Boobs song.
Most of MacFarlane’s jokes were lazy, and puerile, and at the expense of some group or another, but that didn’t stop me from laughing. I laughed at the Rihanna/Chris Brown joke. I laughed at the John Wilkes Booth joke. I laughed at the Flying Nun gag so much that I missed part of it. Because I thought it was funny.
You know why I found them funny? Because, for most of them, my honest first impression was that MacFarlane was mocking the status quo by telling its jokes. If Hitler is goose stepping, and you’re goose stepping beside him, exaggerating the motions, exaggerating the facial expressions, mocking his voice and his mannerisms, you aren’t walking like Hitler–you’re making fun of him. I thought MacFarlane was making fun of Herr Hollywood.
I wouldn’t call MacFarlane a brilliant satirist. I would call him a brilliant Fool. A professional Boob. He is a capering court jester, not a sleek satirist. He isn’t Jon Stewart. He isn’t Steven Colbert. He is smart, but he isn’t smooth.
When MacFarlane sang the Boob song, I thought he was poking fun at how Hollywood undresses its actresses and makes boobs the focus of their careers. Remember what a huge deal it was when Halle Berry was going to expose herself in Blowfish? There’s always this major media explosion when an actress is going to bare her chest for the first time, and I thought MacFarlane was mocking that. I thought Scarlett Johansson got thrown in there because the media exposed her, since she has refused to expose herself. I thought these things because that’s what hosts do at the Oscars, they make fun of Hollywood and the media. It’s like a roast for the entire entertainment industry as a whole, where the talent gets to make fun of the industry standard, while getting rewarded for playing along with it. It didn’t even occur to me that he was being a sexist tool until I opened my Twitter feed and saw the outrage.
Maybe because I actually laugh at The Family Guy, I feel like I am in on the joke with MacFarlane. That doesn’t mean I found all his schtick amusing. I didn’t think Ted was funny (or offensive, just egregiously stupid.) I didn’t like the Don Cheadle joke, which was lazy and boorish. I didn’t think it was appropriate to make the joke about Qvenznicantspellit becoming a sex object “soon enough” in front of her because she’s 9, and 9 isn’t the right age for that joke. But, I’d be lying if I didn’t look at every child actress and think, “I couldn’t do that to my daughter. She’s going to be someone’s sex object before she’s hit puberty.” Making fun of the Countdown to Legal clocks is always appropriate–doing it in front of the children being counted down isn’t. I didn’t laugh at his joke introducing Hoffman and Theron. I didn’t laugh at the closing number. I thought the closing number was ridiculous.
I don’t know. It’s all a matter of taste, isn’t it?
I do know this: The women who were offended have the right to be, and they ought not be called humorless. I find a great deal of mainstream humor to be offensive. I can’t stomach Sarah Silverman, for one. Even my beloved Tina Fey walks a fine line at times.
Comedy is hard because humor is entirely subjective. Drama, we can pretty much agree upon. Death is sad. Loss is sad. Triumph is good. It’s easy to to write a love song. No one is going to complain about that. But where my son thinks farts are the height of hilarity, he doesn’t have any idea why I laugh so hard at Parks and Recreation. Where I love a good, dark WWII joke (see Jeremy Clarkson’s faux commercial about Volkswagon, with everyone fleeing Poland because of a “German” invasion), I don’t find rape jokes funny at all. I will laugh at Countdown to Legal Clock jokes, but I will break up with your sorry ass the very first time you ever tell me a joke about pedophilia (just ask that one guy–I have no sense of humor where that is concerned.)
I do not think Dumb and Dumber, or Something About Mary were funny at all, but Drop Dead Gorgeous is #1 on my comedy hit parade. Subjective.
Was Seth MacFarlane a good Oscar host? I thought so. Would Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have been better? Duh. Yes.
But can’t you say that about just about anything?