Was he flat or edgy? Ho-hum or hilarious?
Reactions to Seth MacFarlane’s Oscar hosting abilities last night are mixed, with some, including The Globe’s Dave McGinn, concluding that his jokes were “offensive and tired,” while others, such as Reuters’s Steve Gorman, describing his humour as “provocative,” “biting” and “edgy.”
Many, including The Atlantic, pounced on MacFarlane’s off-colour groaners, like his feigned racial stereotyping and his remark that Zero Dark Thirty exemplified “a woman’s innate ability to never let anything go.”
“What the jokes were, really, was stupid, boring, and empty: Humour that relied less on its own patently sexist, racist, homophobic, etc. content than on admiration for or disgust with the host’s willingness to deliver it,” The Atlantic’s Spencer Kornhaber wrote. “So much of comedy is about the shock of recognition, of seeing some previously unacknowledged truth suddenly acknowledged, but the only recognition MacFarlane offered was that some people say dumb things about other peoples’ gender/racial/sexual identities.”
Gawker has even edited them all together in a video headlined, “Here Are All of Seth MacFarlane’s Predictable Sexist, Homophobic, and Racist Oscar Jokes.”
But for those who love MacFarlane’s ribald and squirm-inducing comedy from the television show Family Guy and the movie Ted, the Oscar host was a hit.
“MacFarlane seized the camera Sunday as host of ABC’s Oscarcast and proved to its vast audience that he’s a ridiculously versatile entertainer, a guy who can be as charming as he is famously irreverent, even polarizing,” Frazier Moore of the Associated Press wrote, noting that even though he may have upset some viewers, it was unlikely anyone turned him off.
But then, the bar for Oscar hosts has been set pretty low. Billy Crystal turned heads and stomachs with his blackface routine in 2012. Anne Hathaway and James Franco were widely regarded as having bombed when they hosted the award show in 2011. And even David Letterman, who usually has no shortage of witty remarks, is still haunted by his awkward “Oprah, Uma” moment back in 1994.
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