Wednesday, March 20, 2013


I had earlier written a note to write a blog where I was going to discuss, defend and deride all the criticism that Seth MacFarlane was getting after the Oscars, (And probably use a lot more alliteration, eh, discussed defend, deride, yeesh.) but time passed, and I have moved on to other things that were tickling my fancy, but apparently it's still the subject of discussion and controversy. I saw this article on HuffPost: Comedy, just a couple days ago, where the producers of the Oscars, Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, at the GLAAD Awards discussed with The Hollywood Reporter said that they still defend Seth MacFarlane's hosting performance, in particular, the now-infamous heavily-criticized "We Saw Your Boobs" routine. Here's the link to the post:

Frankly, I agree with nearly every word that Meron and Zadan said, and after watching these past Oscars, which entertainment-wise, I consider one of the very best in recent years, I basically looked at the criticisms and was thinking, "Alright, I give up. You tell me, what do you want in an Oscar host?". I mean, where there are parts of MacFarlane's hosting gig that didn't work, yes their were. A few of the jokes in between announcing the presenters, weren't that great. During the opening monologue, the joke/routine I didn't like was the sock puppet parody of "Flight"-, well, actually that was funny enough, but the part that I really didn't laugh at was where MacFarlane joke where he confused Denzel Washington for Eddie Murphy, that joke wouldn't work, even if it was told correctly (And it wasn't, the timing was off), and the ending with Kristen Chenoweth, calling everybody losers over the closing credits, especially after Michelle Obama, that really fell flat. (In their defense of that sketch, when Neil Patrick Harris was hosting the Tonys, and he did an entire song and dance number about the losers, perfectly timed with the credits ending, that was incredible, partly because, you realize that, they were writing a song through the entire show, that he suddenly had to perform, so there's a genesis of a funny version of that bit, but it didn't work at all here, because the timing and chemistry was bad, and it totally missed why it was originally funny.)

There are some complaints that I kinda understand, that MacFarlane's humor was too sexist, I can see that perspective, but honestly, most of it was funny. The Rihanna/Chris Brown joke was funny. (I'm sorry, maybe I don't have sympathy for either of them, but it's funny.)

And you know, here's how I look at the Oscar gig. If you get the job of producing the Oscars, your first job is picking the host. Before anything else, that's the job, and whomever you pick, that's gonna be who you base the Oscars around, and including former hosts, I can write a good shortlist of about 20 or 30 people who I think we'd all consider good potential hosts, so whoever it is, your job is to use that host's abilities with the sensibilities of the Oscars. At least, that's what I think is the job, and my feeling is that most of the critics of Oscars hosts, and it's not just MacFarlane, I've noticed these criticisms with nearly every Oscar host for awhile, especially with the internet now pumping out criticisms at a higher rate and speed than ever before, that they tend to criticize, how the host, didn't shape to the Oscars, the other way around. That's one of the reasons why I ranked MacFarlane's performance so high, I think it's one of the best in recent years, 'cause it did exactly that, it combined the two-sides of MacFarlane's personality really-well, the more childlike, satirical side that we associate with his comedy, and also the more Rat Pack old-school charm that we associate with his music, his style and demeanor, which is very much, already half-in-tune to the traditions of the Oscars anyway, and not only did I think they do that, I think the way they did it, was really sharp, very smart, and at times, incredibly funny. I laughed for a week at "We Saw Your Boobs", not because it was a stupid and immature song, but the way it was presented. As a stupid and immature song, that would surely (and according to some people it has) make MacFarlane the worst Oscar host ever. That's why Shatner came down and stopped the travesty. He told us, it was offensive and don't do it, which he actually didn't do! Everyone's remembering the punchline, but they're forgetting the set-up, that it was alternate reality Oscars that almost happened but didn't at the last moment. So in reality, it didn't actually happen. Had MacFarlane, actually gone onstage, and performed the number, in earnest, thinking that him pointing out how we've seen so many stars boobs, and those, this was his way of admiring how talented the women, then it would've really been offensive, and I would've been writing a different piece right now, but no, he's making fun of the types of people who do think that way sometimes, and MacFarlane's own perception by people of the kind of host, some suspected he would be. Think "The Producers", they're not actually putting on "Springtime for Hitler" to succeed, are they? Same joke essentially, different forum, and it worked, it was funny as hell, and when Emmy time comes around, I hope smart people, nominate "We Saw Your Boobs", for Best Original Song. To some people, they're never gonna understand that, and others who do understand it, are gonna say that it doesn't matter, because it still says something about the person who's telling the joke to begin with. That's true to some extent; I was the one for instance last year, who said I was worried about Eddie Murphy hosting and possibly pissing people off with some of his anti-gay humor, (This was after last year he quit the Oscars after last year's producer, Brett Ratner resigned after saying a homophobic slur on a rado show), but it also says something about the person the way you react to that joke, and every joke for that matter. I found it funny, Jamie Lee Curtis found it offensive, Jane Fonda, thought that children might be watching, but also thought that they could've also done a "We Saw Your Penis" rebutle for the men, which I would've laughed at too. I laughed a great deal at MacFarlane's humor, I especially loved his Rex Reed joke after Adele's performance. I like the Hitler joke tied in with "Amour", 'cause as Mel Brooks tried to do his whole life, anytime you can laugh at Hitler....

Basically, MacFarlane and the Producers, succeeded at the Oscars. Not every joke worked, but that's okay, that happens, and frankly the "Chicago" loving was a little much for me (Mahon and Zadan produced that film, that' why all the way over-embellishing it's importance) and I didn't think the "Dreamgirls" bit was worthy of being there (Nothing against Jennifer Hudson, but "Dreamgirls", but why?), but so much of it worked. They did the In Memoriam, the correct way, it was filled with entertainment. Sure, it was long, but it's the Oscars.

You know, that's something that I think is a big criticism too. I think a lot of people, just hate the Oscars, and are gonna criticize it, no matter what. 'Cause I've heard many of these excessive criticisms for years, and frankly, I come back to my original question, what do you want at the Oscars? The Academy Awards are an event, where the best in Hollywood is honored, by the best in Hollywood. I mean, what do you want, no envelopes, no presenters, what? Seriously, that's what it is. That's like watching going to the Kentucky Derby, and going, "Well, it's a fucking horse race," well, no shit! If it was something else, it'd be something else! We do it differently every year, we pick new hosts, new producers, sometimes it's more comedy-driven, sometimes it's musically-driven, but the Oscars are the Oscars, and I don't want to see them become the Teen Choice Awards or whatever. I think too many people who do criticize, and it's not just this year, it's been every year whether it was deserved or not, really just don't like Award shows in general, and want to say shit like "they're pretentious," or "they're kissing their own ass," or whatever. They only give out 24 of these a year, it's not easy to win one, and frankly, I'll tell you a secret, most people in Hollywood, hate the Oscars. It's a job, it's part of their to show up when they're nominated and what-not. One of this year's Oscar winners was Mark Andrews, who co-directed "Brave", he was gracious enough to come and talk at my film school one time, a couple years ago, and he talked about, how didn't like the Oscars. When he's walking the red carpet, most of the fans outdoor, were heckling everybody, he had to get a suit, the Oscar luncheon was a pain in the ass, etc. I'm paraphrasing what he was talking about, it is work for these people. And they're themselves at the Oscars. They only give out 24 of these a year, not counting Lifetime Achievement and technical awards, they only give out 24 on average. There's over 3,000 members of the Academy, most of them aren't winners. Many aren't even nominees. They're people who work in the industry, honoring those who they feel is the best at their job. Honoring oneself would be, if I were to hold an Award show, honoring the best Movie Blogs of the year, and I would present myself with all the Awards. Okay, I'll admit, I do kinda want to do that now, but that's not what the Oscars are. Many organization and people have similar honors. It's a part of their work, every year they honor the best at their profession. That's why Daniel Day-Lewis keeps winning, he's the best! Now, it's subjective, but that's part of the fun too, debate afterwards. I mean, if you're not gonna like them to begin with, don't bother criticizing.

Now to some of the other critics, but have this very narrow view of what the Oscars should be, they're the ones who I really am getting upset by. You know, Bob Hope's dead. Billy Crystal isn't doing it every year anymore, and he's not always gonna be great at it either. (Last time, Crystal was good, but it wasn't his best.) There have been a few bad Oscars in recent year, not as many as everyone says, but there's been a few. The worst by a mile for me, was two years ago when Anne Hathaway and James Franco were co-hosting, and in that case, it wasn't just the hosts problems (In fact, I think Anne Hathaway was quite good), but the jokes and the writing were terrible. Bruce Vilanch hasn't done an Oscars since, probably won't for awhile, and the sad fact is that he hasn't been funny for a bit. James Franco was probably right to be stoned (Allegedly) quite frankly. The jokes weren't good, yeah, he wasn't his best either, but neither were natural stand-ups, and the material sucked, it wasn't funny. The year before with Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin wasn't good either. Both can probably be good separately, and we know when Steve Martin really cares he can be extraordinary, Again, the comedy on that one was badly-written as well, and again, it was Bruce Vilanch. I don't mean to pick on him, but c'mon, "Damn Helen Mirren," ugh! I knew that show was in trouble, when they had to open with Neil Patrick Harris, to make it interesting, and he was so good, we spent the whole show wishing he was hosting. Honestly, in recent years those, those are the only two really bad ones. A couple that Whoopi Goldberg hosted were sub-par but the first couple times, were great. Jon Stewart, great both times. Ellen DeGenerous, great, Chris Rock, great, and Sean Penn needs to get a stick out of his ass. Actually, in preparation for this, I looked up David Letterman's hosting highlights, who, I grew up, understanding that, he was the notoriously worst of all-time, unless you wanna count the '88 year with no host, but that ghastly Snow White and Rob Lowe performance that-eh,-, well, let's just not count that one, but supposedly Letterman was the worse, as I understood it growing up. I went and found his Oscar monologue on youtube, not posted by the Oscars youtube site, btw, but it was funny as hell! Yeah, Uma, Oprah, a lot of people didn't get it, but you got David Letterman, that Letterman's humor, and rest of the routine, was pretty funny. It wasn't the greatest by any means, but it was pretty damn good, and it was Letterman, mixed with the Oscars. I really do think that's all you can ask for. It's an impossible job to begin with, and frankly, looker deeper than that, seems a little too critical to me.


Marlon Wallace said...

Hey David,

I saw your link on the Facebook Movie Reviewer Support Group page. I had a few comments. I love the Oscars, so I criticize out of love, but here are my thoughts.

Personally, I liked the sock puppet bit, but that opening was overall way too long. I disagree with you about Seth just launching into "We Saw Your Boobs." He should have just done it without Shatner telling him not to.

If he wanted to do something, have the courage to just do it. He shouldn't have had Shatner, but if it was going to do 'Star Trek', at least have someone from the current movies like Zachary Quinto. By having Shatner, it only further proves how old this show is. Instead of that ballroom dance number with Channing Tatum, for example, he should have been braver and did a number from 'Magic Mike'.

I also thought there were too many references to the Golden Globes, which was a far better show. When you constantly have to refer to a show that was better than yours than you know you're in trouble.

What also bothered some people was that long opening cutting into time that should have gone to the winners. The Oscar winner for Best Visual Effects for example was cut-off by 'Jaws' music, all so that the show could do some lame number from 'Les Miserables' and 'Dreamgirls'.

If the show is about honoring these workers in technical categories then what happened was totally disrespectful. If you're going to cut people off like that, you might as well not even have that award.

Anyway, those are some of my thoughts. I look forward to reading more of your work. Keep it up.

David Baruffi said...

Marlon, thanks for commenting first of all, I so rarely get them outside of spam, that I'm always happy to see them, even when I disagree.

First off, I actually wasn't as crazy about the sock-puppet bit, although I did appreciate it more after I saw the movie, but I don't think it's a lack of courage. First of all, it was Shatner stopping him, not telling him to do it (BTW, you'll totally wrong about Shatner being old. "Star Trek", the original series, is still wildly relevant, way more than then the new movies, and Shatner is as big as ever now.) Seth MacFarlane, is a guy who has two sides to his personality, one of them, is the crass, "Family Guy", and then there's the side that is classic and old-school Hollywood, Rat Pack personality. So, it wasn't a lack of courage, (And actually, if he did go into "We Saw Your Boobs", without a setup, I would agree with the criticisms, it would be incredibly offensive) it was an inventive way to combine both sides of his persona. Besides, just going into a punchline without a joke would just be bad writing. Jokes need a context. I liked both the crass, and the classic, like the Theron/Tatum number, and I actually loved the other two better, and a striptease wouldn't have helped hit.

I disagree with you about the Golden Globes also. I love them this year too, and I love Amy and Tina, but actually, overall I preferred the Oscars. It has been better in the past, as a show (As an Award, nobody takes the Golden Globes seriously), but I thought they were quite good, but the Oscars was better. Although I agree with you about the "Dreamgirls" number, although that mainly because I think that was a bad movie, more than the performance, but yeah, if you're going to do a Musical tribute, even to the best musicals of the last decade, which seems stupid to begin with 'cause there's only been like ten, but how about tributes to "Once" or "Moulin Rouge!", or "Rent" or some of the other wonderful musicals? That was my real problem with that.

The Jaws music over the visual effects wasn't for the musical number either, that actually has a backstory that's far more complicated, involving a current disagreement with the Visual Effects workers in Hollywood. You might want to look into that, but I didn't mind the Jaws theme, as a change of pace from their normal playing off the music. I agree, there was too much "Chicago" love and a few other minor issues with the show, but a lot of good musical numbers, and mostly it was funny. It was the most fun I've had watching the Oscars in a while, so, the overcriticism upsets me, but they've been overcritical of every host lately, whether they deserve it or not.

Lights Camera Reaction said...

I love Seth MacFarlane, so I was excited to see him host. He may not have been perfect, but he did a pretty good job.

His opening monologue was hilarious!

David Baruffi said...

Couldn't agree more.