The Academy Awards are sexist to begin with...hardly any female candidates for Best Director for example...77 percent of Academy voters are male, and 94 percent of them are Caucasian. They have a median age of 62, and only 14 percent of the voters are younger than 50.
I did not know who was going to be hosting the Oscars last night, and it was Chris, my 16-year-old son, who told me who MacFarlane was. I've never seen "The Family Guy" (I knew it was not my cup of tea), but of course he has. From start to finish, I found MacFarlane to be obnoxious and offensive...starting with the boob song (which contained several references to movies with rape or distinctly unsexy scenes) and through the sexualization of nine-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis...insulting Adele and Melissa McCarthy...the racist remark about Hispanic presenters before the amazing Salma Hayek appeared onstage...the domestic violence joke and the one about women not being able to let things go...joking about orgies at Jack Nicholson's house...and the eating disorder crack about women losing weight after having the flu. Then there were the comments about Jews and gays. I was floored and also horrified, as I was watching the show with 9-year-old Kieran, who loves the movies. (Naturally, he heard what I thought about the show!)
Last night as another Facebook friend and I each posted our disgust on our wall, two males commented that they liked the boob song. MacFarlane's appearance did its trick: the ratings were higher this year. They appealed to the frat boy crowd.
But I'm not alone in being disgusted by MacFarlane's jokes. Amy Davidson writes for The New Yorker,
"Watching the Oscars last night meant sitting through a series of crudely sexist antics led by a scrubby, self-satisfied Seth MacFarlane. That would be tedious enough. But the evening’s misogyny involved a specific hostility to women in the workplace..."
In the past 83 years, only one woman (Kathryn Bigelow) has won the Academy Award for directing, and very few have ever even been nominated. Less than four percent of the acting awards have been won by African-Americans. Last night, 30 awards were given to men and only nine to women.
"I dream of someday watching women win all the non-performance categories, of women making as many films as men do, of women and men being nominated for a comparable number of awards. There are a lot of reasons why that day is far, far in the future. But I'll tell you what's not helping: the biggest night in film being dedicated to alienating, excluding, and debasing women. Actual gender equality is a ways away, but I'd settle for one four-hour ceremony where women aren't being actively degraded."
I enjoyed "The Book of Mormon," even though it was shocking and blasphemous. But I was prepared for it, and my children were not with me (except for the 16-year-old). Instead, it poked fun at misogyny and racism (cloaked in religious extremism).
One of the goals of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is to improve the movie industry's image. I fail to see how last night's shamble of a show improves the industry's image. If anything, it sets us back 40 years and insulted 55 percent of the movie-going public (women), not to mention people who are Hispanic, gay, Jewish, or overweight.
Thank God for Barbra, Adele, the cast of Les Miz, Shirley Bassey, and "Brave." Otherwise, wholly disappointing and I'll think twice about watching next year.