Seth MacFarlane, the comic funny man with the boyish face behind “Family Guy” and the recent box office smash starring Mark Wahlberg, “Ted,” spun up a storm of controversy last night in his debut … and perhaps swan song … as host of the 85th annual Oscars.
Some jokes were laugh-out-loud worthy while others — maybe most — fell flat. Remember the quip about how Chris Brown and Rihanna would find the violent slave film and Best Picture nominee a great date movie? Awkward. How about the joke that John Wilkes Boothe was the actor that “best got into Lincoln’s head?” Even MacFarlane joked that for some viewers, it’s still too soon to laugh about a tragedy that occurred nearly 150 years ago.
Critics pointed to this brand of humor as polarizing and of poor taste. But considering the Franco-Hathaway trainwreck of 2011 and Billy Crystal’s old-school snoozefest last year Macfarlane’s efforts tried to bridge the gap between lowbrow and safe, dated humor. He did many things in the nearly four-hour telecast. They weren’t always good things. But they were of a younger, more provocative humor. MacFarlane brought to life the often-tired Oscars ceremonies of the past.
It didn’t hurt that his “Family Guy”following helped ratings rocket past previous years’ telecasts. According to early national ratings, the Oscars on ABC pulled 12.1 rating in the 18-49 demographic. That’s a double-digit boost from 2012. Here are some tweets about MacFarlane’s performance:
Piers Morgan: “Love @SethMacFarlane – crowd groaning, gasping, roaring… perfect host. #Oscars”
Steve Martin: “Seth MacFarlane was wonderful and who knew? I did. But then, I wrote “Cruel Shoes.”
Russell Crowe: “Congratulations @SethMacFarlane, you did great mate, handled it all with grace, #topjob”
Michael Ian Black: “Well, WE thought you were great.” – Seth MacFarlane’s family in about four hours.”
Page Six: “Drinking Game? Every time Seth MacFarlane makes an awkward joke. #Oscars”
Okkervil River: “Seth MacFarlane is cynical & horrible & his success is one of those things that actually depresses me about being alive.”
Many critics weren’t keen to MacFarlane’s brand of humor. Some called it “sexist” and “racist” while others blasted it as downright vulgar. He pushed the boundaries. But are we to expect anything less from the notoriously irreverent creator of “Family Guy” and frat boy humorist?
And despite mixed reviews, the Oscars did generate more debate this year than it had in a long while.
Washington Post writer Alexandra Petri admitted, “Look, I laughed. I probably shouldn’t admit that. But was it really that bad? Would we have noticed if we weren’t all trying so hard not to enjoy it?” in her post published Monday afternoon.