Opinion: It’s Funny Because It’s True

Seth Mac

By Sandra Neri

This morning, as I got onto the MSN.com page to check email like every day, I was met by jaw dropping headlines. This morning at 9:07am, the headlines were as follows:

’12-year-old boy who was victim of bullying attack dies after weeks in hospital’

‘Dogs find newborn girl abandoned in plastic bag in Texas’

‘Hoping for a ‘fresh start’ mother abandons child in woods’

‘Cops: 11-year –old escapes kidnapper’s car, rescues other girl’

‘NYC woman: Husband wanted to kill me, eat others’

While I am aware that most news sites are trying to shock us, and drive our attention to their sites, but I cannot ignore what goes on in the world. So, I often do read these stories, and most do not have a happy ending. I could go on at great lengths about the deplorable murder rate happening right next to us in the city of Chicago. This problem has gotten global coverage, and I do not see a solution in the near future. This daily media storm of impending doom on top of the everyday problems we all have to cope with (bills, school, kids, parents, etc.), can leave us all overwhelmed and even a little blue. My conclusion…we need comedy.

Enter Seth MacFarlane (creator of ‘Family Guy’), 2013’s unassuming Academy Awards host. The evening seemed to start out innocently enough with the illustrious red carpet walk, the opening monologue, and a surprise guest. Enter William Shatner, dressed as Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, he tells MacFarlane that he is from the future and warns him of a disastrous Oscar show. Enter the crap hitting the fan. MacFarlane proceeds to do what he has done successfully for the last 14 years on his hit television show ‘Family Guy’, make us laugh with a style of comedy that usually makes people explode with raucous laughter…or upsets them enough to write letters of complaint to the Academy’s president Hawk Koch. Enter the ‘Boob’ song. For those of you who may have missed it, MacFarlane basically sang a song about all the female stars that exposed their breasts in movies. Juvenile?…yes. Funny? in my opinion…yes!  The backlash has been from females who found that because many of the roles these actresses were in while exposing their breasts, were of a sensitive nature; MacFarlane’s song was a “celebration of rape on film” as one online article stated.  Those that have spoken out about the Oscar broadcast are California State Legislative Women’s Caucus—Assembly member Bonnie Lowenthal and State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, who wrote a letter to Academy president Hawk Koch and asked the Academy to “disavow such behavior and commit to using better judgment in their future choices of content and hosts.” Those jumping on this media band wagon are celebrities Geena Davis, Jane Fonda, and Jamie Lee Curtis. Yeah…I’m not even going to comment on this group, some jokes write themselves. By the way, did any of these women come to fellow actress Melissa McCarthy’s defense when her size was harshly criticized by veteran film critic Rex Reed? That would be a no.

Academy Defends MacFarlane

With 40.3 million people watching, the Oscar viewership went up 20 percent from last year. Whether it was the terrific ratings that prompted the Academy to defend MacFarlane or not, I am happy they did release a statement defending him and the shows producers. This excerpt borrowed from The Atlantic Wire states: In a statement to The Wrap an Academy spokeswoman said today: “If the Oscars are about anything, they’re about creative freedom.” Adding: “We think the show’s producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, and host Seth MacFarlane did a great job and we hope our worldwide audience found the show entertaining.”

The Man Behind the Mayhem

Born October 26,1973 in Kent,Connecticut, Seth MacFarlane studied animation, and graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design. MacFarlane is also a skilled pianist, a composer and was named the ‘Smartest Man on Television’ by Entertainment Magazine. MacFarlane has won an Oscar for Best Voice Acting in an Animated Television Production, and was nominated at this years broadcast for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song(for the movie ‘Ted’). MacFarlane has won two Emmy’s, and has been nominated eight more times. Charities MacFarlane has given to are: Alliance For Children’s Rights, Los Angeles Police Memorial, A Place Called Home, Stand Up To Cancer, Chrysalis (assists the homeless).

IMDb Quote by MacFarlane:

“The only way it [criticism] gets to me is that it demonstrates a deterioration of the power of restrained, critical, rational thought that was once more ubiquitous in our society. In the sixties and seventies there was such a high regard in this country for the achievements of human beings in science, in technology, in space exploration. And in some ways we’ve turned into this wimpy, astrology-loving, angel-loving, pseudo-scientific culture that no longer has that ability. We’ve gotten lazy in our willingness to use our brains”

Wrap Up

Anyone who has ever seen an episode of ‘Family Guy’ knows that MacFarlane will pretty much make fun of any demographic imaginable on earth, which I think evens things out nicely. Why is it so funny? It’s funny because it’s true. I am sorry to be the one to tell you that stereotypes exist for a reason…because some characteristics are true about certain groups of people. MacFarlane has aimed jokes at heavy people, Catholics, and women (among others), all groups I just happen to belong to. I have found his humor to be clever and sharp, but mostly, he just tells it like it is. Yes there is the occasional over exaggeration added for comedic effect, but we as viewers are aware of that, and don’t lambast him for it. Give us more credit than that. In most of these online articles, the word ‘misogynistic’ has been used to define MacFarlanes comedy. I doubt if the young teenage boys who laugh at his humor will want to go out and hurt women. This is not why men become violent toward women, because they saw it satirized on a cartoon that stars a talking dog, or heard the ‘Boob Song’.

It is sad that those who choose to channel all of their negative energy on what they felt MacFarlane did not do appropriately, at the same time ignored what he did do right. MacFarlane has a beautiful voice, we hear it when he is just talking normally, doing cartoon voices, but it is very apparent when he sings. The further truth is, I would rather listen to the ‘Boob Song’ than most stuff produced today by up and coming recording artists. While outrage over this silly song at the Oscars builds, those who contribute are only ignoring all of those chosen as Oscar candidates. Because of their personal outrage, people who had no interest in the Oscar broadcast are now looking at it for the wrong reasons. Their need to put MacFarlane’s antics under an enormous media microscope has overshadowed those who were supposed to get the real spot lights. All they have done is robbed those who excelled at their creative talents of what should have been weeks of Oscar afterglow. To those who have contributed to this barrage of attacks on MacFarlane I say, shame on you…

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