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Seth MacFarlane and the Oscars

I found the class discussion regarding Seth MacFarlane hosting the Oscars to be one of the most interesting discussions thus far in the class. After class ended I continued doing further research about reactions regarding the Oscars and about Seth MacFarlane himself; to the latter end I watched several episodes of MacFarlane’s television series Family Guy and American Dad, along with Ted the movie he directed and arguably starred in. I have watched Family Guy for about ten years and I remember watching it before it before it was canceled in 2002; eventually the show was revived and more episodes were created starting in 2007. When comparing the episodes from before the cancelation to those after the revival, there are several noticeable differences in plot; after the revival the show featured more crude humor and it lacked some of the endearing moments of the earlier episodes. The newer episodes have also been marked by a decreasing creative involvement from Seth MacFarlane; he is still involved in voicing many of the characters, but his writing duties have been passed to several other people. This seems to confirm a point that was raised in class that many of MacFarlane and Family Guy’s audience do not look deeply into the jokes and do not understand some of the satire. On one early episode of Family Guy one of the main characters, Peter Griffin, quotes a phrase often attributed to the French philosopher and writer Voltaire “I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”.  I appreciate the context of this joke and find it funny due to its historic prominence, something MacFarlane intended to show; my brother on the other hand finds the joke funny and has no knowledge of any history behind it because it is a funny thing to hear Peter say. It seems that this cruder level of humor triumphed over the years as MacFarlane decreased his involvement on the show; it is this higher level of humor that I think was to be conveyed in his Oscar song “We Saw Your Boobs”. On one level it is funny because of its subject matter and the absurdity and ridiculousness of the song; on another it is a commentary on the lengths that many actresses have to go to to be recognized or noticed in Hollywood. Likewise MacFarlane is cognizant of the controversy of what he says as during the Oscar broadcast he once remarked that he had thought several more controversial jokes had been cut out; similarly a recent episode of Family Guy began with a title card saying “Further Evidence of Family Guy’s Decline”, showing that MacFarlane or at least the writers of the show are aware that the show has been slipping in quality.

In short, believe that many of MacFarlane’s critics do not look past the surface of his humor and the satire is lost on them. When reading “Seth MacFarlane and the Oscars’ Hostile, Ugly, Sexist Night” by Amy Davidson from class it was hard for me to take her comments seriously; I had to stifle my laughter several times as Davidson’s comments seemed to be a satire in and of themselves. It reminded me of Jonathan Swift’s famous satire, A Modest Proposal, as it was hard to see it in a serious light at all; something I found ironic as much of Macfarlane’s satire seemed to be lost on Davidson.

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