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.”
He 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.