Lawmakers Furious Over Seth MacFarlane’s Oscars “Misogyny”

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.

Related Reading:

An Activist’s Guide to the Oscar Nominated Documentaries

Billy Crystal Wins Best Racist at Oscars 2012

Where Are All the Minority Directors at the Oscars?

Image credit: Thinkstock.


V. W.
V. W.4 years ago

By the way -- I'm a 64 year old woman (and author of the previous comment).

V. W.
V. W.4 years ago

I found him to be very funny and I liked the show -- it moved along and most of the musical numbers were entertaining. I didn't find his boob song offensive -- someone said before me, blame the directors of the films who decided that the actors had to strip -- we would have gotten that Jodie Foster, Hilary Swank, etc. were raped without seeing their breasts. I found the Kate Winslet part really funny because she does seem to love stripping for her roles -- the nude painting scene in Titanic was particularly ridiculous because almost NO woman of that time -- no matter how much she was trying to rebel -- would have agreed to pose nude. It was plain stupid and probably just an excuse for James Cameron to get a good look at her naked. She should never have agreed to it -- but she seems to find roles that ask for it. I don't think Seth McFarlane -- or the joke writers -- can be blamed for that.

Annmari Lundin
Annmari L4 years ago

Yes, why not make fun of women showing their breasts? They did it, so they are free to make fun of. Or rape survivors? Why don't they just hide and shut up? Or victims of domestic abuse? Or actresses all together. They have to take the jokes about their appearances and not being so sensitive. Right?
Wrong! You don't think it's funny if men were the target, would you? If the jokes were about PTSD male veterans or male rape victims or male actors showing of their manly features. But, it's business as usual in Hollywood. Women has always been treated as less worth than men and we know why. Just look at who runs Tinsel Town.

Karl Murphy
Karl Murphy4 years ago

People shouldn't be so sensitive, its just a show. Your life must be pretty sweet if this sort of thing is enough to rile you up.
I do agree that it was not tasteful at all, but they shouldn't have hired Seth if they were shooting for a more classy atmosphere.

Lynn D.
Lynn D4 years ago

and "freedom of speech" means????????????????

Sonya Armenia Redfield


Tim C.
Tim C4 years ago


Crissy R.
Crissy R.4 years ago

the Oscars this year was wonderful, bad jokes, songs and all. The only thing worse then talking about violence against women and children IS not talking about it!! If it were not for comedians, musicians and writers, there would never be open discussions about issues like this. Feels like some of these 'do gooders, activists' rather pounce on fluffy tv shows then go after the real perpertrators! Why should he not mention Rihanna, shall we all just forget what happenned to her? I would watch again if MacFarlane hosted the Oscars next year.

Paula G.
Paula G4 years ago

I did not watch most of the show as I found his humor to be so not funny. I did not catch any of the things being referred to but it does not surprise me. And saying that is just his sense of humor does not excuse it. People no longer accept jokes about minorities and other issues so such things as jokes that are referred to deserve attention.

Shell S.
Past Member 4 years ago

I guess I don't get it...... It IS Seth Macfarlene...people were "shocked " by his jokes? Do they live under a rock? This is his sense of humor. Personally, his humor is not my sense of humor, but I wouldn't sensor him. I just didn't watch the show. Okay, I admit, after seeing all the big deal about his "We saw your boobs" song, I did go online and watch that. I admit, I laughed quite a bit. Honestly, people, he didn't make those women take off their clothes, THEY did. Get angry with them. He was just pointing out the obvious. It those actresses were offended, they maybe should have thought twice about being naked for the world to see. When you do stuff like that, it's free it or not. Also it is "Art" and "Needs to be done". people are intelligent enough to figure out with a sex scene, rape scene, the titanic's nude drawing scene, etc, that a women IS naked without actually having to see it. They have ways around it for you to know she is. Again, get angry with the actresses if you want to blame someone for degrading women. Personally....I would rather not censor. I would just like what they do now, have a discription of what the movie or tv show has in it (nudity, crude humor, etc) then decide for myself if I want to watch it or not. Simple as that. Also, I am a victom of domestic violence, I've learned to laugh at that stuff as well or just simply ignore it. You know what, it's only offensive if you choose to let it be to you.