I must admit, I did not watch the Academy Awards. Partly because I live in England and I go to bed at, like, 9:30 but also because I find it really, super boring.
However, waking up on Monday to find out Jennifer Lawrence and Daniel Day Lewis won was pretty awesome. What wasn’t awesome? The uproar about Seth MacFarlane’s sexist, racist, and homophobic jokes. I mean, shouldn’t people just lay off him? It was probably all some huge meta-joke-analysis-thing right?
In this article, posted on Vulture, Margaret Lyons lays out precisely why it matters:
It’s frustrating enough to know that 77 percent of Academy voters are male. Or to watch 30 men and 9 women collect awards last night. But MacFarlane’s boob song, the needless sexualization of a little girl, and the relentless commentary about how women look reinforced, over and over, that women somehow don’t belong. They matter only insofar as they are beautiful or naked, or preferably both. This wasn’t an awards ceremony so much as a black-tie celebration of the straight white male gaze.
Yes, Hollywood is overwhelmingly male (recent stats suggest the SAG is only 13.4 percent female while, of the top grossing movies, only 3.6 percent were women). Yes, women have fewer on-screen roles (38 percent), and they also have a smaller window of opportunity in which to make their money on screen (age is kind of a big deal for women in movies). But, this should not excuse MacFarlane from making jokes that surely everyone can agree are bigoted, no matter the intent. As Lyons says:
Jeez, the song was a joke! Can’t you take a joke?
Yes, I can take a joke. I can take a bunch! A thousand, 10,000, maybe even more! But after 30 or so years, this stuff doesn’t feel like joking. It’s dehumanizing and humiliating, and as if every single one of those jokes is an ostensibly gentler way of saying, “I don’t think you belong here.” All those little instances add up, grain of sand by grain of sand until I’m stranded in a desert of every “tits or GTFO” joke I’ve ever tried to ignore.
While maybe there was some sort of ‘meta-‘ humor involved where MacFarlane was actually trying to disassemble the sexist structures of Hollywood with his current and biting humor, many (if not a majority) of people don’t see it that way. MacFarlane has used his position to make sexist (and racist) jokes, whether or not those jokes are a critique of the current situation in Hollywood. He needs to take some responsibility for the fact that, meta- or not, those jokes were sexist.
You just don’t like Seth MacFarlane’s sense of humor. What did you expect?
Actually, I do like Seth MacFarlane’s sense of humor. (Sometimes. No one likes everything all the time!) I’ve been a loyal Family Guy viewer for almost fifteen years. I’ve been to — and adored — Family Guy: Live. If MacFarlane had sung “Shipoopi” all night, I’d be writing a really different story right now. Instead, there were jokes about how Rex Reed would probably call Adele fat — because that’s what’s important about her — and how someday Quvenzhané Wallis will be old enough to date George Clooney — because that’s what’s important about her — and how sometimes, gasp, a woman might have body hair — because that’s what’s important about them. Women are nags, and Jews run Hollywood! Thank you, Seth MacFarlane, for this cutting-edge humor.
When is it going to be OK to say that stuff like this is not OK anymore? Until then,