Best and Worst Moments from the 2013 Oscars: Seth MacFarlane, Domestic Violence is an Awful Punchline!


An illustration of Beasts of the Southern Wild's Hushpuppy flexing her arms

Last night was the Academy Awards, which means my Facebook feed was awash in comments from high school acquaintances along the lines of, “WTF was up with Kristen Stewart!?!? She was totally frowning and had some kind of bruise on her arm!!! What a slut!!! #TeamEdward.”

In my opinion, there were lots of moments last night more notable that Kristen Stewart’s facial expression. Here’s my list for best and worst moments from the interminable broadcast:

Loved It: Quvenzhané Wallis. The 9-year-old star of Beasts of the Southern Wild was the youngest Best Actress nominee to date. Not only did she rock a stuffed puppy dog handbag on the red carpet, she was unabashed in the fact that she was damn proud of herself. When they announced her name along with the likes of Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence, Emmanuelle Riva and Naomi Watts, Wallis spared viewing audiences the false modesty of batting eyelashes, shrugged shoulders and downcast eyes. Instead, she flexed her arms like a champion and grinned. 

Hated It: So many of host Seth MacFarlane’s jokes! His opening musical number  “We Saw Your Boobs” kicked off the tone for the whole man-cave of a night. While “We Saw Your Boobs” was technically a joke song about how MacFarlane “ruined the Oscars” delivered from future-dwelling William Shatner as Captain Kirk from Star Trek (still with me?), it was disrespectful and not even original. I have witnessed at least a half dozen bro types rattle off lists of the movies in which various female actresses bare their chests at various times in my life (…all during college). MacFarlane made a couple legitimately funny edgy jokes during the night—like when he ripped on his own movie Ted, saying it was a “mediocre effort” currently in Red Boxes outside of grocery stores being pissed on by bums—but others were so simply sexist, homophobic or racist that I was cringing during the whole show.

Loved It: Ben Affleck’s acceptance speech for Best Picture (Argo), where he addressed wife Jennifer Garner and said of their marriage, “It is work, but it is the best kind of work!” That’s a great perspective to hear in Hollywood, the land of far too many guy-gets-girl-then-they-kiss-and-ride-off-into-the-sunset-and-nothing-is-hard-for-them-ever-again movies.

Loved It: Adele’s energy. After her acceptance speech for Best Original Song for Skyfall, she did a shuffle-step past the microphone and shouted, “And my man—I love you baby!” Her co-songwriter talked for awhile, and then Adele took the mic again to announce to the room, “You’re all amazing!” With an attitude like that, no wonder she’s successful. We have no choice but to love her.

Hated It: Ah, but MacFarlane continued to scar the evening with terrible lines!

1. You know what makes a terrible punchline? Domestic violence. For the second time in a week, Rihanna’s relationship with Chris Brown is fodder for flippant public comment. MacFarlane shot a zinger at domestic abuse while introducing “Django Unchained”: “This is the story of a man fighting to get back his woman, who’s been subjected to unthinkable violence. Or as Chris Brown and Rihanna call it, a date movie.” Just sit for a second and think about who the butt of your jokes are, Family Guy. Is it making fun of a woman being beaten by a man? If so, pick a better target.

2. On Jessica Chastain star of Zero Dark Thirty, about Chastain’s character’s quest to find Osama Bin Laden: “She shows every woman’s innate ability to never, ever let anything go.”

3. On frequent presenters Salma Hayek, Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz: “We have no idea what they’re saying but we don’t care because they’re so attractive.”

Loved It: Helen Hunt’s navy blue gown from H&M. Foregoing a designer dress, Hunt literally walked the walk so many actors and actresses talk about in their acceptance speeches: You don’t have to be rich and famous to be somebody. She showed solidarity with the rest of the country, as we struggle through the terrible economy without the help of designer dresses. That said, she did wear $700,000 worth of jewelry. So. Maybe forget that thing I said about solidarity.


Mad about sexism at the OscarsSign our letter telling the Academy five things they need to change right now

Image of Quvenzhané Wallis from artist Nicole Cuvin’s illustrated tribute to her character Hushpuppy.

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by Georgia Perry
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26 Comments Have Been Posted

Are you serious?

"MacFarlane made a couple legitimately funny edgy jokes during the night—like when he ripped on his own movie Ted, saying it was a “mediocre effort” currently in Red Boxes outside of grocery stores being pissed on by bums—but others were so simply sexist, homophobic or racist that I was cringing during the whole show."

Why do you think it's not okay when MacFarlane makes jokes that are racist, sexist, or homophobic, but when he makes a classist joke about "bums," it's okay?

As someone who's formerly homeless, that joke made me feel really crappy, and it makes me feel even crappier to see you here condoning it while calling out the rest of his so-called humor.


I have to agree - what's the distinction that makes homophobic/sexist/racist jokes wrong, but classist jokes okay and "edgy"? I'm not even saying I found any of those jokes particularly offensive (how is it different from what almost any other stand-up comic does every night?), but based on your views of this host's other jokes, I don't see why one about bums wouldn't also be wrong in your eyes.

Third that

Seriously I thought the same thing, so not only are homeless people urinating on his work, but it's in a red box where all us little people go to movies. I hated this guy. And I am still surprised I stay tuned after the boob song, but it was worth it for The Way We Were, oh the tears! But on second thought, maybe some of the tears were because I felt subjected to that jerk for the three hours it took for me to see Barbara.

Come on

The Boob Song was PARODY, do you not understand that the joke was that it was disgusting and offensive. The joke was the fact that such a thing would be horrible, degrading and disgusting. You can't get offended that easily or you'll never enjoy life.

Star TREK, you mean . . .

Captain Kirk from Star TREK, not Star Wars. :)

ack! Changed!

Thanks for catching this egregious error! It has been changed.

I loved this article.

Somebody posted this link on Facebook and I absolutely loved this article. I can't wait to read more from Georgia. Please keep sharing.

Also not funny: Jewish jokes

Just to add to the list of things that weren't funny: The whole Ted bit where the bear talks about how Jews run Hollywood. Then, a few minutes later, a bizarre 'Sound of Music' bit where McFarlane tries to introduce the Van Trapp family and then a person in a Nazi uniform runs out and says, "They're gone!" Seriously? Was that really necessary?

And don't even get me started on the "Quvenzhane Wallis is 10 more years away from being too young for Clooney" "joke."

Didn't the Oscars cancel a would-be host last year for making homophobic comments? Does anyone remember? If so, whose idea was it to pick this guy?

Do you not remember that

Do you not remember that scene from "The Sound of Music"? It had nothing to do with them being dead at all, it was a joke about the movie. If you've seen the movie you would get the joke.

I got the reference--I was in

I got the reference--I was in 2 different theatre productions of The Sound of Music and still have the whole movie version etched in my brain. Yes, they were supposed to go on stage and then escaped and "climbed every mountain." But of all of the great ways to introduce Christopher Plummer, why would you pick that scene? Why would there be a random person dressed as a Nazi for that bit right after a joke about how Jews run Hollywood? Poor taste.


The goddamn Sound Of Music, are you so unaware and humorless. Learn to laugh. It was a famous scene in a classic movie.

He was trying to introduce

He was trying to introduce Christopher Plummer and he acknowledged that the joke fell flat because it didn't end up working.

And, it wasn't a host who was fired, it was Oscar producer Brett Ratner stepped down voluntarily after he said "rehearsing is for f*gs" and people got upset over it.

Nobody should be surprised

Nobody should be surprised that McFarlane is making these kind of sexist, racist, homophobic, classist, ignorant jokes at the Oscars. Just look at the supposed "humor" on Family Guy, The Cleveland Brown Show, and American Dad. He's a one-trick, shock-jock pony. The producers and directors of this year's Oscars knew what they were getting when they hired McFarlane to be host. What does that tell America about THEM? Does Hollywood truly think so little of their audiences?

They're just jokes

So what's allowed to be funny? You can't take everything seriously. There is a lot of humor in differences. If we don't laugh at our problems as a society we'll go insane.

I don't have to laugh at

I don't have to laugh at something if I don't think it's funny. Plenty of comedians don't rely on outdated sexist and racist jokes to be funny. Seth McFarlane is not one of those people.
I read your other comments on this blog post. You told someone to "shut up" and you said feminists "make it so orthodox" that they "look like nutcases." You also wrote that feminists "want to destroy the left's credibility" and "attempt to destroy any chance we have at true equality."
You wrote something in one of your comments about "our cause," but what exactly does "our cause" mean to you?

Our cause it equality

You know what. Our cause is equality, not suppressing speech, I am a feminist, but I'm also a comedian, my question is what jokes are okay, Humor is meant to dispel, make the impact weaker, make these regressive ideas out to be jokes. You can't take everything so seriously. By Orthodoxy I mean the inability to just allow humor to be humor. It's this orthodoxy that ruined the climate at my college. It's this orthodoxy

Also as a white man I'm offended by all the white man bashing. You are not allowed to make any jokes except white man jokes? That hurts me personally, I have done nothing to anyone in my life. I was just born the wrong race and gender.

I remember a source of my mental breakdown. Was the orthodoxy of people. I mentioned that I was living with an old mexican woman (She was old, from mexico and a woman) the girl I mentioned it too told me I was being racist ageist and sexist. I was being none of those things. Also when a guy chastised me for simply hanging out with my friends. One of whom worked on a paper that wasn't politically correct enough for his tastes.

I had a manic breakdown. I've been struggling ever since. One of the reasons is closed minded people, unwilling to see any other sides. You painted me as a sexist and racist and all these horrible things, which hurts a lot. You get so upset with jokes that you actually, humorlessly attack me and make me feel horrible.

And it wasn't even funny.

I did not call you racist or

I did not call you racist or sexist. My comment was about how Seth McFarlane relies on sexist and racist jokes to be supposedly "funny," and how I don't need to laugh at McFarlane if I think his type of humor isn't funny.
What "white man bashing" are you talking about?
Are you trolling?

As a mental health

As a mental health professional,
I'd like to add that manic breakdowns are not caused by being criticized.

Stress may contribute,
but unless you were using drugs (illegal, or if you are bipolar, prescription anti-depress. meds)
at the time of your breakdown,
the roots of your mania are *physical* Rob.

Having disagreements did not cause this. Actually, it's the other way around-- getting into many arguments can be a warning sign that mania is coming on.

This is something your body did.
It was no one's fault.
Do not assign blame to yourself,
do not try to make anyone feel guilty for it.

You have the right to your opinions. Others have the right to disagree.
If it upsets you, don't spend time on the site-- that's the wisest way to take care of yourself.

best of luck, Rob

I think it's interesting how

I think it's interesting how many commentators on various media outlets start off their comments with, "I didn't watch the Oscars, but.." and "I don't watch his shows/movies, but...". Do yourselves a favor, watch the telecast, give yourself the benefit of some context. Save some of your outrage until after you've seen it for yourself. Yes, a lot of his jokes were offensive (this shouldn't be news to anyone), but some were very funny and badly needed in an otherwise bland and boring awards show. The sock puppet parody of Flight was hilarious, but I'm sure somebody here doesn't like the joke he made about "black hand". It was funny because it was ridiculous not because it was racist.

Also, Tina Fey and Amy Phoeler made a similar joke about women's weight and dieting (to paraphrase "The Hunger Games is what I called the six weeks it took for me to fit in this dress" "Life of Pi is what I'll call the six weeks after I take this dress off!") and why did nobody call them out for being sexist? Because the joke wasn't sexist and neither was the one MacFarlene said about the flu. I'm a feminist who laughs at politically incorrect humor, but I'm not laughing at women suffering with body image and I don't think that was the intended punchline of the jokes. I'm laughing at ridiculous mainstream beauty standards perpetuated by Hollywood and the fact MacFarlene delivered that joke during a Hollywood A-list awards show, I appreciate.

If you want to educate people about sexism and misogyny, articulate what specifically is sexist and misogynistic about what they say and WHY it hurts women. To blanket EVERYTHING a comedian says as sexist A) is dishonest and lazy, B) creates hyper-reactionary discourse that doesn't promote free expression.

Maybe other commentators

Maybe other commentators weren't watching, but this one clearly was, so I'm not sure why chose to start with that particular issue. Anyway, to respond to your other points, there are distinct differences between the jokes A&T made and the one SM made regarding dieting: A&T didn't joke about eating disorder symptoms, A&T are women and made the jokes about themselves, and A&T were topical (referencing the movies) and actually funny (matter of opinion, I know, but it seems to be one I'm not alone in).

Joking about dieting is different than joking about eating disorders, which is what SM was effectively doing. One is a common, if unfortunate, part of life for many women; the other is a serious medical condition that is sometimes deadly.

For me it also always feels icky when men joke about the things women do for "beauty," as many comedians do, because they're the ones who've defined beauty and attractiveness, and they're the ones most women are trying to attract. When men complain or mock women for being shallow or vain because they spend a lot of time/money on their appearance I always want to scream, well maybe if you didn't objectify us and judge our worth based solely on that appearance we could be a bit more laissez-faire about it! They've got us in a no-win scenario with that one.

So when two women make a joke about dieting and how much it sucks, they're speaking from their own experience and expressing solidarity with all the other women who've done it, whereas when a man makes that kind of quip (and SP's is the epitome of this) it comes off as "look at the silly women and the ridiculous things they do!" It's the difference between laughing with and laughing at.

Sisters, brothers, comrades.

At some point we are becoming a parody of ourselves. It was funny, yes it was offensive in places, but all comedy can be offensive.

We all have our differences, and that's okay.

If we can't make fun of ourselves we'll drive ourselves mad. If you can make a joke about something it diffuses its power. If you get mad at a joke you're aiming your anger at the wrong place.

It was a joke, don't take offense. If you take offense you are working against art and artists. You are fighting against free speech. And most importantly you're fighting against a city that is incredible for women's equality. Women have equality in all levels of the industry. LGBT Family benefits are guaranteed in their union contracts and the glass ceiling is virtually non existent.

We're fighting other leftists. We are devouring ourselves while fascists, and religious bigots destroy the world. We are only harming our cause.

Don't fight Hollywood, Hollywood is your ally. Fight our real enemies.

Except WE weren't making fun

Except WE weren't making fun of ourselves. A straight white guy was and that doesn't diffuse anything. Where to even begin? No, not all comedy is offensive. It is actually possible to be funny without playing on tired, worn-out stereotypes and laughing at others' misfortune. Seth McFarlene =/= Hollywood. If you really think there's no glass ceiling in movies, check out the research: Not being as evil as the next guy does warrant a free pass. As the saying goes, with friends like these...

A rebuttal

This is why the mainstream is so hesitant to feminism. You make it so orthodox that you look like nutcases. My dad worked on Argo, his bosses were women, Below the line jobs are equal except for grips. The above the line work too is getting better, it's not a repressive thing, it's just a thing. Plus there were women writers for the Academy awards. So shut up you just want to destroy the left's credibility, attack the most unionized industry in the country and attempt to destroy any chance we have at true equality.

Seth McFarlene is about as liberal as they come, but he's a comedian, he makes fun of these things because they're a joke to him, they're meaningless antiquated humors that are so absurdly and commonly wrong that they're funny. Flipping out about it only makes our causes look bad to the general public.

Now Don't "Flip Out", Men!! Remember It's FUNNY!!!

Ned Beatty, we've seen your junk! Sqeeeeel with laughter, or you're difficult and don't have a sense of humor!

Also, Steven Spielberg won't admit his past as an exotic dancer, and it doesn't matter that we can't understand Ang Lee because he's so attractive.

It's funny!!! Because comedy is never political or expressing a skewed world view, or reinforcing power dynamics that Those In Power are afraid of losing. Suck it up, minorities! Your white male mastah is making fun of you!!

All of this year's Oscar male actor nominees (Supporting and Lead) have shown their butts onscreen. All of them. And I made memes ("We Saw Your Butt") here:

Coming from a guy Honestly

Coming from a guy Honestly everything you just said sounded hilarious. i really think you have to loosen up

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