A few random thoughts from today I wanted to add to the Oscar post from below:
1. Most of the articles I've seen (or podcasts/interviews I've heard) about Seth MacFarlane's performance at the Oscars have led with professions of open-mindedness - something along the lines of "I'm not too familiar with MacFarlane's work, so I was fully willing to be impressed." Then they transition into shock and horror at what came next.
I think that if you open any piece defending your open-mindedness with a "it wasn't me - I was willing to give him a fair shake, you know," there's a very good chance that you didn't start from a very open-minded position at all. Alex Pappademas gave offhanded reference today that Seth MacFarlane "hates women," as if this was an inarguable fact, based on hundreds of firsthand accounts, and not based on a dislike for the no-holds-barred style of his television show.
When you expect someone to come out and be racist and misogynist - and he gives winking reference to the fact that this was what you expected of him - it's awfully easily to have reality play into your preconceptions.
2. MacFarlane tweeted today "The Oscars is basically the Kobayashi Maru test" - a reference to the Star Trek challenge involving a no-win situation, where the only thing being rated is how you hold up under pressure, or redefine the situation. It's an apt metaphor, but I think a better one is War Games - "the only way to win, is not to play."
3. There's a real tone to these MacFarlane commentaries that have been bothering me, and I finally put my finger on today.
It's the fact that "Family Guy" is watched by "the wrong sort of people." You know, bros. Unintellectual types. Poor people. Not our tribe. And that makes MacFarlane an outsider - and the wrong sort of outsider. Not an outsider like Letterman or Jon Stewart, who showed up to skewer the puffed-up celebrities. The sort of outsider who'll track mud through the ballroom. That type.
4. I've defended MacFarlane's performance on the Oscars, which might have given the impression that I thought the Oscars were well produced. They were not.
The producers this year, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, decided to do a tribute to movie musicals. Which is... fine, I guess. There was one musical that came out this year, Les Misérables, so there's some connection. The big discussion leading up to the awards was actually "truth and history," but that's kind of a bummer, so... musicals! You've even got a host who loves musicals, so it works out.
But we didn't do a tribute to movie musicals. There was nary a mention of The Music Man, Greast, A Star is Born, Singin' In The Rain, Meet Me In St. Louis, Cabaret, West Side Story, or The Wizard of Oz. The closest they came was MacFarlane doing a gag about The Sound Of Music, where he announced the Von Trapp family but they failed to appear. We did a tribute to movie musicals from the last 10 years - Les Mis, Dreamgirls, Hairspray, and Chicago. In fact, we did Chicago a number of times - Catherine Zeta-Jones sang a song, the cast reappeared to announce a winner, MacFarlane talked about it being the ten-year anniversary of its Best Picture win... why this emphasis on Chicago? Because the producers of Chicago were Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.
So, so classy, guys.
5. And finally, I'd just like to remind everyone again that last year, Bill Crystal did blackface during the Oscars. Unironic blackface. Completely out of context blackface As in, he just had a blackface Sammy Davis, Jr. bit he wanted to shoehorn in, and he did.
I just thought we've all forgotten about that too quickly.