While Seth MacFarlane owes much of his success to off-color humor that willfully ignores political correctness, that kind of comedy didn't play quite as well at the Oscars.

On MacFarlane’s Family Guy, he routinely makes jokes concerning race, gender, religion, political affiliation, sexuality, sex in general and violence among other sensitive topics. It was anticipated that MacFarlane would indeed toe the line on appropriateness on Sunday night, but the Ted creator may have gone just a bit too far for the venue.

His jokes that concerned race were mostly centered on best picture nominated films Django Unchained and Lincoln. The former, said MacFarlane, “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." Directed at Daniel Day Lewis, he asked, “If you bumped into Don Cheadle on the studio lot, did you try to free him? How deep did your method go?” Then he made a crack on Hispanic accents saying, “We’ve reached that point where Javier Bardem, Salma Hayek or Penelope Cruz takes the stage and we have no idea what they’re saying but we don’t care because they’re so attractive."

MacFarlane’s song “We Saw You Boobs” has been getting quite a lot of backlash for being explicitly sexist, highlighting films in which Hollywood’s leading actresses bared their chests. He didn’t stop there though. Of Jessica Chastain’s character in Zero Dark Thirty, he characterized her as one of those women who are never “able to let anything go.” Furthermore, MacFarlane at one point said, “For all those women who had the ‘flu,’ it paid off… lookin’ good.”


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Other jokes MacFarlane made on Sunday considered to have been tasteless ran the gamut of offense. One of the quietest audience reactions was when he offered, “Daniel Day-Lewis is not the first actor to be nominated for playing Lincoln. Raymond Massey portrayed him in 1940′s Abe Lincoln in Illinois. I would argue, though, the actor who really got inside Lincoln’s head was John Wilkes Booth.” Another was when he, as the voice of Ted, had a conversation with Mark Wahlberg that resulted in a Jack Nicholson sex party joke. The tastelessness here has to do with the fact that Roman Polanski’s assault of a thirteen-year-old girl took place at Nicholson’s pad.

Regular viewers of MacFarlane-created material most likely found little that was out of his comedic wheelhouse on Oscar night. He’s usually able to skate by on the idea that if he makes fun of everyone, no one really has a need to be offended, and that his jokes are meant to highlight the ridiculousness of all the things their based on – racism, sexism, etc. While that’s all well and good for Family Guy, American Dad and Ted, the Oscar host may have benefitted from reading the room a little bit better Sunday evening.

—Chelsea Regan

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  • Ignacio
    Ignacio on

    False Friends
    “As we describe, so do we believe and make manifest.” – M. Richard Kirstel

    This year’s Oscar Awards host, Seth MacFarlane, a representative of the American film industry, a prolific writer, animator, a singer, composer, director, an actor, an activist and avid supporter of the Democratic Party (etc,etc,etc) made mention of the “incomprehensible” Spanish accent of three leading actors who have been recognized with the highest honors internationally for their English speaking roles, as well as, their roles in Spanish – Oscar Awards, Academy Awards, BAFTA, Golden Globe, Goya Awards, San Sebastian and Cannes Film Festival Awards. While the intention was to be funny/cute going on to mention that their merit was being attractive so that it didn’t matter what they had to say, I cannot help but feel ofended.

    Is it irrelevant that these actors with accents (vs. actors without) have achieved these distinctions in their second, third language or fourth language, a language obviously not their own? Why didn’t he make jokes about how hard they have had to work to learn how to act in a different language and that it wasn’t enough for them to speak the language of Cervantes, Gongora or Borges?

    It is disheartening to see a public figure practice “harmless” jokes – the fat free kind of comedy that focuses on obvious and easy differences instead of what Comedy is supposed to do – give us insight to life, make us laugh about what hurts the most; moreover, it is tiresome to see the Spanish accent singled out in the midst of the dozen or more accents present at the Oscar’s which is ironically celebrated, where there had once been a Spanish misión – Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles de Porciuncula. Could Seth pronounce this without a thick American accent?

    Ignacio Rodríguez Bermejo

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