Ah, there’s always a controversy of some sort.

Hosts, awards programs, and jokes: the triple threat combo of television viewing, as many a veteran host has discovered while being roasted slowly over the coals of public criticism.

Think Jon Stewart. David Letterman. Chris Rock. It’s really not even fair to mention James Franco.

But today’s controversy is about Seth MacFarlane’s turn as host of the most-watched awards program in the world, and the jokes he made about domestic violence and small girl actors and when they might be able to date George Clooney.


Some feminists are saying: not funny. Some fellow comedians are saying: it’s fine. Some television critics are saying MacFarlane brought an edginess the Oscars needed.

Award ceremonies live or die by the jokes – it’s the toughest gig in town – and MacFarlane, he made some clangers.

Here are five of the best (or worst):

When introducing the nominee for Best Picture, Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, he said: “This is the story of a 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.”

MacFarlane also joked about George Clooney’s predilection for younger women, but brought 9-year-old Oscar-nominee Quvenzhané Wallis into it: “To give you an idea of how young she is, it’ll be 16 years until she’s too old for Clooney.”

jennifer-aniston-channing-tatumHe also called Jennifer Aniston – America’s sweetheart no less – a stripper: “Our next two presenters, as least one is honest about being a former exotic dancer. Please welcome Channing Tatum and Jennifer Aniston.”

A joke about Jessica Chastain: “And how great was Jessica Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty”? Yeah. Playing a woman who spends almost 12 years tracking Osama Bin Laden. Twelve years. The film was a triumph and also a celebration of every woman’s innate ability to never ever let anything go.”

History buffs are allegedly upset about a Lincoln joke: “The actor who really got inside Lincoln’s head was John Wilkes Booth,” quipped MacFarlane to a few jeers from the audience.

“Is 150 years too soon?” he responded. “If you don’t like that, I’ve got some Napoleon jokes to tell you.”

There was also the “I saw a boob” song and dance routine, about all the women who have appeared topless in films, but you know, Seth MacFarlane is the creator of Family Guy and the co-writer of the movie Ted. He has a reputation for frat-boy humour.

“He was soooo great!” said comedienne Sarah Silverman, according to The New York Times. “He’s a song-and-dance man and he had so many hard jokes.”

Comedian and actor Seth Rogen said: “It’s hard for me to judge something I would never be able to do. Good humour is subversive.”

Feminist publication Bitch Media tweeted: domestic violence is an awful punchline.


What do you think? Funny, subversive humour, or a big fail?

What do we think? Next year: Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Please.




Our own Wendy Harmer hosted The Logies in 2001 – an event she still regards as her “career iceberg.” You can read about that here.

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  • Reply February 26, 2013


    I did not watch all of the Awards but what I did watch was really flat. Not funny from Seth or any of the prize winners.
    I did like the Michelle Obama presentation that was clever but am I being biased?

    • Reply February 27, 2013


      The best comedy comes from the UK. Billy Connelly always cracks me up. Americans are too uptight.

  • Reply February 26, 2013


    The joke wasn’t about domestic violence, it was about Rihanna and Chris’s relationship.
    The Clooney joke was about Clooney liking young women, not that he’s a pedo. Jeez lighten up folks.
    And I didn’t know that JA was a stripper. OMG America’s sweetheart? Big woop. I know a scientist who got through uni by working in a topless bar, topless. Who cares. Whatever it takes.
    The Jessica Chastain joke was apt: I still remember stuff from YEARS ago, and I bet you all do too, ladies.
    And so on….
    And the man sang and danced.
    Seth’s a bit (a lot) uncouth, but we all knew that when we turned on.

  • Reply February 26, 2013


    the man was the usual loudmouth american comedian with absolutely no sense of self preservation or his working future (or lack there off)

  • Reply February 26, 2013


    Seth was so flat, so dull and if that’s where humour is at – I don’t get the joke. The bit that made me gasp (and not in a good way) was when he introduced Salma Hayek by saying something like “this is the part where we have Javier Bardem or Salma Hayek or Penelope Cruz and we cant understand half what they say but we don’t care because they’re so good looking”.
    Try substituting 3 black actors and saying “we can’t see them in the dark but never mind because they’re so good looking…”
    It was wrong and crass in so many ways, not least because in a country where even George W Bush speaks Spanish and the language is now the 2nd most spoken in the USA and … well, gobsmacked doesn’t describe it.
    Poehler and Fey – for sure.

  • Reply February 26, 2013

    Wendy Harmer

    I don’t like Seth’s show The Family Guy ( unlike the rest of the family)… but I liked his hosting and laughed at the gags! And for the record, I loved Letterman!!

  • Reply February 26, 2013


    Most jokes are in poor humour, I guess that is what makes people laugh. Because its what they might be thinking but too scared to say it.

    The Oscars are so cringy how they get the world’s best actors standing together to read off a cue and its NEVER timed well. EVER. They should be able to read lines, but they can’t do it live and as themselves.

  • Reply February 26, 2013

    Maureen P.

    Didn’t watch the awards, just read the article. Agree with you, MadonnafromCoogee, the gag was about their relationship…they can run, but they can’t hide. Hope they felt uber-uncomfortable!

  • Reply February 26, 2013


    So bad taste, so much money probably paid to him. The best writers in the world available… and that’s it!
    Shoulda gone to spicks and specks saver – Adam Hill!

  • Reply February 26, 2013


    I laughed at all – they are JOKES – i.e. making FUN OF the serious. Down with humorless righteousness

  • Reply February 26, 2013


    I thought the attempt at humour to be juvenile and turned the channel over…Channel 9 did their dough on this one I think. I expected more from the industry professionals. I would prefer they didn’t have ‘jokes’ about their peers, just keep it straight and glamourous.

  • Reply February 26, 2013


    George shoulda smacked that wimp …

  • Reply February 26, 2013


    I heard the “Boobs Song” on ABC local radio today~ and I thought it was funny/absurd..

  • Reply February 26, 2013


    Fail. I’m glad I recorded it and managed to FF through most of it. Seth just wasn’t funny, he was cringeworthy. Why no dick jokes, or a little self deprecation? Yes Tina and Amy next year.

  • Reply February 26, 2013


    Well, I am usually very vocal about sexist jokes but I LOVE Seth MacFarlane. I have teenage kids who have introduced me to Family Guy and it is so irreverent, so anti the great American Dream that I find it brilliant. Yes it’s edgy, yes it can be cringe worthy but it is also very clever.
    He is a great performer and character actor. The “boobs” song was prerecorded and the reactions of the actors who were mentioned in the song were pre-recorded too- so they were all in on the joke.
    So, yes, I liked it. Perhaps I have been “de-Seth-itised”?
    I also think sometimes we should all lighten up a bit and not feel we always have to be strict arm chair critics 🙂

  • Reply February 26, 2013


    I thought Seth was funny. Loved the joke acknowledging Ben Affleck’s directorial omission and thought overall Seth was a lot more entertaining than watching the A listers at the mike giving out awards. I just don’t get that with all their supposed A list power they can’t say “no, I will sound like an idiot if I read that”

    Was Renee Zellweger drunk ? I think so ….

  • Reply February 26, 2013


    Seth is funny. No doubt about it. It took me a long while to warm up to Family Guy, but once I understood the humour, it is a great show. His jokes were funny and I think people thought they were funny too, but were in a room with all their peers and it’s possible laughing would have been frowned upon.
    Why is it we give the host of the Oscars such a hard time? They have an incredibly hard job. Seems no one can live up to the job. Seth did in my opinion.

  • Reply February 26, 2013


    I think lame humour is overrated. I like awards ceremonies for the awards… The suspense and the speeches. These days with the net, theres no need to sit through the lame jokes.

  • Reply February 26, 2013

    Jenny Esots

    He handled himself really well, sang, danced and was tuned into the audience. The ‘I saw your boobs’ musical number was very school boy humour though.
    I adore watching the Oscars.

  • Reply February 27, 2013

    sue Bell

    I laughed at every one of those jokes, we are far to precious about everything. I also love family guy, so I guess I’m going straight to hell. I love dark, gallows humour and made a joke about twin towers within ten minutes of it happening. It’s a great survival technique, if you can laugh at all the terrible things that happen in our lives, you have resilience to come back again and again.

  • Reply February 27, 2013


    I agree Sue Bell, that was tame, but I want Ricky Gervais to host every award show ever from now on!

  • Reply February 27, 2013


    I don’t like American humour and I don’t like tacky humour. Flat & crap, so I switched off.

  • Reply February 27, 2013


    I just read Wendy’s Logies iceberg – that was funny.

  • […] 5 Oscar Jokes: Funny or Fail? […]

  • Reply March 4, 2013


    loathed seth macfarlane. talented and good looking undoubtedly but his jokes and comments were lower than a snake’s belly.

  • Reply March 9, 2013


    No one enjoys when the jokes are aimed directly at themselves. Or their faux sense of political correctness.

    It’s called IRONY folks.

    I got it

  • Reply March 9, 2013


    Oh and Tracy .. Seth’s humour is very British. That’s why the American feminists are slapping their mouths in horror. Americans don’t understand irony.

    I think Seth was spot on at a gig like that to raise awareness of issues via humour. These actors get paid heaps of money to appear in racist, violent, and sexist movies and then get applauded by the masses, and treated like gods. In the end they are actors .

    Brilliant ironic humour

  • Reply March 24, 2013


    It isn’t subversive to make jokes that mimic popular stereotypes. The jokes were offensive because they were sexist and racist – they didn’t mock or subvert sexism or racism.

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