The early reviews are in on Seth MacFarlane's popularity as Oscar host this year, and they're -- the envelope, please. Ah, let's see. The winner is … oh ho HO! What a surprise, folks! It's 'WE HATE SETH MACFARLANE'! Congratulations, 'PLEASE, ANYONE BUT SETH MACFARLANE!' Who would have predicted that 'GOD, WE JUST WANT TO SLAP THAT CHEESY OVER-WHITENED GRIN RIGHT OFF SETH MACFARLANE'S MADDENINGLY SMUG FACE!' would win this category??? *thundering applause*
Okay, I'm paraphrasing just a tiny, tiny bit, but the critical response to MacFarlane's Thursday performance at the Academy Awards nominations has been nothing short of scathing. It seems like critics are sick and tired of hosts snarking on the creative community during a ceremony meant to honor that same community -- and who can blame them?
I mean, I totally get the negative reaction to a host that announces the nominees for best adapted screenplay by saying,
These are adapted screenplays, so that means that the writers basically copied stuff from Microsoft Word and pasted it into Final Draft.
It's one thing to poke fun at the celebrity culture in general and even to push the boundaries of what's considered acceptable -- for instance, I loved Ricky Gervais making fun of the seemingly untouchable Angelina Jolie during his Globes hosting gig. He was right! The Tourist DID bomb, but you'd think by the collective audience gasp that he'd made a racist joke about amputees.
But I feel like it's something else entirely to make fun of the awards you're handing out, and the recipients. Apparently when he presented the the women nominated for supporting actress and a joke about Hitler, he said,
I read Amour was co-produced in Austria and Germany, right? The last time Austria got together and co-produced something it was Hitler, but this is much better.
As for the best director candidates,
These are five people who are the very best at sitting in a chair and watching other people make a movie.
I'm sure the Academy has this huge struggle ever year where they try to maximize the entertainment provided by the host and pomp and circumstance of the event itself. If the Oscars are boring to watch, no one's going to tune in, right? Choosing a controversial host, therefore, is a good thing -- because everyone wants to see what's he's going to say. But going for an insulting, condescending MC belittles the very people the Oscars are supposedly intended to honor.
You could see MacFarlane struggling to figure out how to seem like the guy whose show had a baby putting horse semen on his cereal, but not actually offend the more conservative Oscar audience. (…) Diminishing an entire Hollywood profession doesn't work with the award show's earnestness, and it's also a pretty big boulder to throw at an event that exists to extol the genius of these very professions. It's one thing for Steve Martin to make digs at Hollywood egos (Ha, ha, the crowd laughs, So true, even if not in my case). It's another to basically say, ‘You people are being rewarded for something that is not technically a skill.’
Yeah, I agree. People spend their entire careers trying to score an Oscar, right? Receiving a nomination or award is, for some, probably one of the most momentous occasions in their entire lives. In the unlikely event I were to receive such an honor, I can imagine that I'd greatly prefer for the person announcing my name to refrain -- just for that one, brief instant in time! -- from publicly tearing me down.
Here's a look at MacFarlane in action during the nominations:
What do you think about Seth MacFarlane as Oscar host? Are you looking forward to seeing him onstage?
Image via Gage Skidmore/Flickr