Two California lawmakers have written to organizers of the Oscars to complain about what they termed the “misogyny” of host Seth MacFarlane’s comedy during Sunday night’s awards ceremony.
The lawmakers in question, Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) and Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), both leading members of the state legislature’s Women’s Caucus, have written to Hawk Koch, president of the Academy, to complain about host Seth MacFarlane’s jokes, in particular those that appeared to make light of rape and domestic violence.
Said the lawmakers: ”There was a disturbing theme about violence against women being acceptable and funny. From topical jabs about domestic violence to singing about ‘boobs’ during a film’s rape scene, Seth MacFarlane crossed the line from humor to misogyny.”
“On Oscar night, when Hollywood seeks to honor its best, Seth MacFarlane’s monologue reduced our finest female actresses to caricatures and stereotypes, degrading women as a whole and the filmmaking industry itself. This should be a celebration of artists in the filmmaking industry, not an offensive display of disrespect toward women that sets the fight for gender equality, dignity, and respect back decades.”
They go on to urge the Academy to use better discretion when picking next year’s host.
Macfarlane’s now infamous “We Saw Your Boobs” opening number, wherein he reeled off a list of names of topless actresses and the films in which they appeared sans shirt, featured a number of those in the audience whom he was making fun of, Naomi Watts for instance, having pre-recorded their reactions for comedic effect. It seems some effort was made to invite the audience to laugh along with the joke. The mass media and many on the Internet seem to have refused.
In particular, MacFarlane’s joke has rankled because that montage included Hilary Swank in “Boys Don’t Cry,” Jodie Foster in “The Accused,” Jessica Chastain in “Lawless,” and Charlize Theron in “Monster.” Those particular scenes involved sexual assault or rape.
MacFarlane also made a joke about popstar Rihanna and her revived relationship with Chris Brown who infamously violently assaulted the songstress a few years ago, saying while discussing Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, “This is a story about man fighting to get back his woman who has been subjected to unthinkable violence, or as Chris Brown and Rihanna call it — a date movie.”
“That’s as bad as it gets,” he added, “if it makes you feel better.” For many, however, this was not the end.
MacFarlane’s description of Jessica Chastain’s character in the film “Zero Dark Thirty,” a film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, has drawn particular ire. He described the film as a “celebration of every woman’s innate ability to never let things go.”
Similarly, his jokes about Jewish Zionists controlling Hollywood have drawn protestations of antisemitism.
It should be noted that MacFarlane has, however, seen strong support from some quarters.
The Academy, for one, is backing MacFarlane’s stint as a host — though after the event MacFarlane was quick to note he wouldn’t be hosting next year — and high profiled stars such as Russell Crowe and Steve Martin have also made known their support.
A number of commentators have also highlighted that, given MacFarlane didn’t actually write the jokes, MacFarlane is the least of the issue in this discussion with the fault actually resting with the Oscars as a whole, which continues to be a heavily male dominated environment in which, they have pointed out, actresses are more often asked what they are wearing than how they felt about the film for which they are receiving an award.
Did you watch the Oscars? Did you think that MacFarlane stepped over the line, or did you find his stint as host funny? Let us know in the comments.
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