In defense of Seth MacFarlane as Oscars host

Seth MacFarlane has found himself in more hot water than most Oscarcast hosts, being labeled a misogynist, anti-Semite and homophobe. But did MacFarlane really display these attitudes with his humor?

Of course he didn’t!

The people bestowing these labels (including two female members of the California legislature) are  twisting their reactions to his jokes into fabricated instances of bigotry and prejudice.

The claims of misogyny have been the loudest and most abundant. Those making this claim reference jokes MacFarlane made about Jessica Chastain’s character in “Zero Dark Thirty”, actresses having the flu to slim down, George Clooney’s penchant for younger women and the song and dance number about actresses baring their breasts as evidence of misogyny.

Yes, MacFarlane used dated stereotypes about women and the entertainment industry as the basis for those jokes.

The joke he made about Chris Brown and Rihanna’s rocky relationship can be attributed to bad taste. Later, when MacFarlane remarked that Rex Reed would critique Adele’s performance, he was not making fun of her weight but rather showing how much of an idiot Reed was in singling out Melissa McCarthy’s plus size in his review of “Identity Thief”.

None of these jokes display a hatred towards women, the definition of misogyny. 

The claims of anti-Semitism came from the bit between Mark Wahlberg and MacFarlane’s computer generated teddy bear, Ted. Ted kept saying that if he and Wahlberg wanted to continue working in Hollywood, they had to say they were Jewish and led Ted to say that he was born Theodore Schapiro.

Like some of the jokes about women, this relied on the old stereotype that Jewish people control Hollywood. The fact that many of the moviemen were Jewish was embellished for comedic purposes at last year’s Emmys. The Comedy Directing nominees were asked in pre-taped segments, “What kinds of people make the best comedy directors?” Both Lena Dunham (“Girls”) and Jason Winer (“Modern Family”) answered that it was Jews who did the best job. Jon Stewart has referenced his heavily Jewish staff throughout his 18 Emmy victories. And in 2002, when he won Comedy Supporting Actor, Brad Garrett (“Everybody Loves Raymond”) said, “I just hope that this award breaks down the door for Jewish people who are trying to get into show business,” which was greeted with uproarious laughter.

As for the claims of the host being homophobic, this arose from the opening segment when William Shatner said MacFarlane would come out of the closet in two years. MacFarlane has been asked before about being gay and always said it’s not true without being overly defensive. Indeed, he has been very outspoken in his support of gay rights. 

The people making these allegation should take a look at what they are criticizing. Their gripes are really about how taste and that’s a legitimate thing for which to criticize MacFarlane. Throwing around claims that he hates women, views Jews as inferior and fears gay people makes the accuesers look like fools and does a disservice to those who are true victims of bigotry and hatred.

6 thoughts on “In defense of Seth MacFarlane as Oscars host

  1. great points here. but the bottom line is that seth macfarlane is just not very well-liked by the Oscar crowd. he’s very liked among certain demographics — very little of whom were a) in the Oscar audience or b) watching the show at home.

    edgy hosts are rarely a hit with oscar audiences and viewers.

  2. I agree with your points…nothing MacFarlane said seemed mean-spirited to me (and Sasha Stone makes some great points in her sounding off over the Academy’s history of excluding women/gays/minorities being far more offensive than remarks made by their latest host).

    The only moment that rubbed me the wrong way was the insinuation that MacFarlane would come out within several years being greeted with laughter. I get the rumor thing, (and maybe I’m sensitive :), but I wonder why the prospect of someone sharing that they are gay would be funny to the majority of the audience.

  3. Sasha Stone put it best. Seth was sexist/racist/homophobic? I didn’t notice. I was too busy noticing how sexist/racist/homophobic the Oscars themselves were — especially as a reflection of Hollywood.

    For example, when NPR was live tweeting how sexist the “We saw your boobs” number was, all I kept thinking was, “But…an awful lot of these women DO show their boobs in films made by men. What’s up with that?”

  4. As a woman, I just can’t get offended by the boobs song. You can’t objectify someone who has already chosen to objectify themselves. Hey, they did show their boobs. By conscious choice. The one thing that bothered me about the song was the reference to Scarlett Johanssen, because she was not a willing participant in sharing her boobs with the world. What happened to her with the phone hacking was basically a sex crime. If I were her and that happened to me, Seth bringing it up would be like bringing up the humiliation of the event all over again and making it fresh again. I wish he had not done that. For the flu joke, I thought his meaning was they really went out and purposely caught the flu. Not positive he meant it as a bulimia joke. And I thought the Rex Reed joke was much more a joke against what a jerk Reed is then it was to Adele. I wasn’t offended by the jokes about Jewish people in Hollywood, but then again, I’m neither Jewish, nor someone who works in Hollywood, so I think I should just stay out of that one. Ditto goes for the alleged homophobia jokes. But I will say I laughed hard at the Shatner/gay chorus joke, if only because Seth’s reaction shot and facial expressions and stunned, thoughtful silence were hilarious. I’m very sorry to see so many people (including these California Legislators) who seem to think Seth is some kind of evil jerk. I think he’s just very good at satire. And I must say, I live in a pretty conservative, rural state, so unfortunately I hear much worse sexist, racist, homophobic, and bigoted jokes on a weekly basis than Seth has got in his pocket. Hell, there are more offensive jokes than what Seth did cycling around on Facebook every day. I found his routine to be funny, but tame.

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  6. I didn’t think he was any of the things outlined here, but I didn’t like his hosting. Mostly because of his introduction, what should have been a monologue turned into an endless silly thing with a guy that’s not even recognized anymore. It was plain boring and tasteless. Not racist, chauvinist or anything else

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