Remember that hysterical clip that made the rounds a few years back of Cardinals coach Dennis Green repeatedly bellowing, “They are who we thought they were!” after his team blew a late lead against the Chicago Bears? Well, if last night proved nothing else, it’s Seth MacFarlane is exactly who we thought. He’s a pompous douche with a shit-eating grin, a razor sharp wit and a sometimes sophomoric sense of humor. Personally, I think that’s a good thing. Maybe you think otherwise. Ordinarily, I would agree to disagree, but considering all of the hogwash I’ve read today about how MacFarlane was apparently a) sexist and b) one of the worst hosts ever, I can’t hold my tongue anymore because both of those statements are just factually wrong.
First of all, last night’s ceremony was not sexist because there’s a major difference between jokes being made at the expense of women and jokes being made specifically to put women down. Let me give you an example of the difference. Late in the ceremony, MacFarlane joked that Maya from Zero Dark Thirty was the perfect person to spend twelve years catching bin Laden because women are incapable of letting things go. Is that a stereotype? Yes. But is it a stereotype that is keeping little girls from getting jobs or feeling good about themselves? No. It’s just a funny quirk that a sizable percentage of women share, and if you don’t believe me, think about the random things your mom still brings up.
Now, let me give you an example of a joke that’s legitimately sexist. If MacFarlane had said, “Remember that scene in Zero Dark Thirty when Maya’s female co-worker was so excited to see her source that she decided to ignore protocols, and it had disastrous consequences? This is why we shouldn’t trust hormonal women to make major decisions at work.” Now, that joke, that one would not only sexist, it’s dangerous because it’s bullshit stances on women’s perceived competence related to their emotions that actually have a tangible effect on hiring in the workplace.
It’s that type of bullshit that keeps little girls from shooting for the stars. That’s the shit we need to weed out, not jokes about women holding grudges. Those aren’t any different than jokes about men being incapable of multi-tasking, being lazy, couch-glued bums and being incapable of bonding with each other on levels beyond surface time-sharing.
Second of all, MacFarlane is not the worst Oscar host in history. In fact, he’s not even close. You know why I can say that with certainty? Because unlike the majority of critics who despised his so-called antics, an extremely high percentage of readers actually loved it. Comments on places like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and underneath many of the articles here on Cinema Blend have been glowing from happy viewers who are stoked that for once, Hollywood picked a host for the people who actually attend movies rather than for members of the Hollywood elite who typically decide on someone who can most aggressively pat themselves on the back. Newsflash: more people saw Ted than Beasts Of The Southern Wild, and it’s not even close.
For the sake of argument, let’s say half of the people who watched thought MacFarlane was total shit (that number is too high) and half of the people who watched thought MacFarlane was great (that number is too low), from any angle you want to measure, that’s better than at least 98% (that number is also too low) of people who thought James Franco was terrible. That’s not even an opinion. That’s like a math proof. That’s the great thing about Twitter and Facebook. It’s never been easier to tell when critics and viewers disagree, and this is a prime example of that.
Did MacFarlane remind me of Bob Hope last night? No, he didn’t. No one (credible) is arguing he’s the best Oscar host in history, but you know something, he was actually pretty good. Unlike many of my fellow critics, I actually smiled at his boobs song, and especially Jennifer Lawrence’s fist pound. Unlike many of my fellow critics, I didn’t bat an eye at any of his so-called sexist jokes. Unlike some of my fellow critics, I don’t go into ceremonies ready to pounce on anything that could be considered wrong. I go into ceremonies looking for things that are right, and more often than not, MacFarlane was good last night.
I don’t know whether Seth will ever be invited back to host, but if this is his only appearance, he’ll leave me with far more positive than negative memories. And fortunately for him, the majority of Oscar viewers agree with me.