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A One Line Review of the Oscar Host Who Will Leave You Begging For James Franco

[ 142 ] February 24, 2013 |

On Seth McMarflane, I once again quote one of my all-time favorite critical lines, from Robert Christgau: “Irony–an excuse for anything and a reason for nothing.”

…so they did just fire all the writers and have McFarlane and an intern copy and tweak some punchlines from The Lockhorns, right? The alternative is too horrifying to contemplate.

…a depressing compendium of Oscar sexism. More here.

…djw in comments gets it exactly right:

“Occasionally, when done just right, offensive material can be very funny.”

“Being offensive is funny.”

Great comics understand the former, hacks like Mcfarlane don’t understand the difference between the two.


Comments (142)

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  1. Davis X. Machina says:

    Hell, I’m begging for Julio Franco.

  2. SEK says:

    Please please please, let them retroactively re-cancel Family Guy. (Because I’d rather ride a manatee than read something written by one.)

  3. charles pierce says:

    I’m at MSG watching the Knicks and, apparently, I’m ahead of the game here.

  4. sharculese says:

    For a second during the opening I thought it looked like things were going to get out of hand, with the audience getting increasingly annoyed and MacFarlane prickly and defensive, but then they did that weird gag with William Shatner and it’s settled into a comfy groove of stale and awkward.

  5. Eric W. says:

    Regardless of the Oscars, that’s a pretty dunderheaded, illiterate quote about irony you’ve posted there. What Christgau seems to mean is more like insincerity. Irony is a powerful device with lots of different powers and uses. You might think McFarlane is insincere and cooler-than-thou, but don’t trash irony because of it.

  6. rea says:

    Irony is an excuse for everything? Really? Will irony excuse a black fly in your chardonnay, or rain on your wedding day?

  7. Marek says:

    This is making me miss David Letterman.

  8. DocAmazing says:

    im in yr awards ceremony killin yr brain cellz

  9. Erik Loomis says:

    What is Louis C.K. doing tonight?

  10. Leeds man says:

    Do you folks always watch shows you don’t like?

    • Richard says:

      It’s an Oscar tradition to watch the show and complain about whoever is hosting it and the fact that there is a glitzy award show at all

      • Leeds man says:

        Don’t mind me. I’m not aware of any sort of traditions.

      • Halloween Jack says:

        I pretty much gave up on both James Wolcott and Cintra Wilson when they both wrote posts about how disappointed they were that the Oscars that year didn’t contain any particularly embarrassing moments. Depending on awards ceremonies for grist for a column is sad enough, but when life doesn’t give you lemons, find something better than handing out glasses of sugar water and shrugging, “Eh, what can you do?”

    • wengler says:

      I watched Waiting for Superman instead. All of you came out ahead of me. No matter what the fuck you were watching.

    • Anonymous says:

      Going to go out on the limb and say most people are watching for the awards themselves, and many people like to watch for the outfits. I’ve never heard of anyone who watched just for the host. So when the host ruins a show you’re watching for other reasons, it’s perfectly valid to talk about it.

    • Mrs Tilton says:


      it’s the American equivalent to the Grand Prix d’Eurovision. (Or whatever it’s called these days. It just hasn’t been the same for me since “My Lovely Horse” got nul points.)

    • Barry Freed says:

      If by “you folks” you mean “Americans” I have a two word reply for you, Leeds man: Question Time.

      As for me, I was watching the BBC America broadcast of “The Tomb of the Cybermen” which is great fun and the Walking Dead was on too.

  11. Fighting Words says:

    I’m surprised Seth McFarlane decided to host the Academy Awards. Trey Parker and Matt Stone haven’t done it first.

  12. Breadbaker says:

    The Ted thing was simply offensive.

  13. Anonymous says:

    When it’s bad, it is just bad…really not much else to say.

  14. thebewilderness says:

    I have seen a lot of bad Oscar ceremonies, who can forget Snow White, and I have seen some piss poor hosts but this guy is perhaps the worst I have ever seen.

  15. jeer9 says:

    Jimmy Fallon might be a good host. And how they give best picture to a film whose director isn’t even nominated is beyond me. At least ZDT was shut out.

    • Colin Day says:

      Not entirely, it tied with Skyfall for best sound editing.

    • Ed says:

      And how they give best picture to a film whose director isn’t even nominated is beyond me.

      That is unusual, although the Academy Awards often split the difference between Best Picture and Best Director. Difficult practice to justify in light of the control over all aspects of production most directors exert in contemporary filmmaking, but the Oscars are as much about Hollywood politics as anything else. Ben Affleck can now doff the martyr’s crown he’s been wearing after not being nominated in the category.

      • John says:

        Even splitting best picture/best director doesn’t happen all that frequently anymore.

        But giving best picture to a movie not even nominated for best director had only happened four times – in 1929 (Wings), 1933 (Grand Hotel), 1989 (Driving Miss Daisy) and this year. So this is only the second time this has happened since 1933. It is highly, highly unusual.

    • Jordan says:

      Why should the director’s guild should have veto power over best picture winners?

      • Jordan says:

        err, obviously, strike the second “should”.

      • Ed says:

        Obviously, the guild has no such veto. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense for the director not to be nominated when his picture is up for the top award. In the past such an omission was pretty much a guarantee that the movie wouldn’t win the top prize, but such an anomaly is more likely when nine movies are up for Best Picture, an experiment which ends after this year, I think.

      • John says:

        Argo is a director’s movie, though. The Directors Guild, in fact, gave Affleck Best Director. The strangest thing about the sequence of events is that Affleck wasn’t nominated.

        • actor212 says:

          I was kinda surprised by that. Watching Argo, I got the distinct sense that Affleck could have clipped an awful lot of extraneous scenes without losing the dramatic thread and maybe even increasing the ever-present tension of the backdrop by picking up the pace where it slacked.

          In other words, he indulged himself a bit much. Don’t get me wrong, a really good film by any measure.

    • Because they massively screwed up the Best Director category this year, which boosted the chance that a Best Picture wasn’t going to have a Best Director associated with it.

      • John says:

        But how did that happen? Specifically, how on earth did Affleck (who, again, won the Directors Guild Award) not get nominated?

        • Richard says:

          I think the reason is that Argo was released earlier in the year without a lot of fanfare. It was something of a surprise hit and, unlike a lot of movies today, picked up attendance after the first weekend through word of mouth. Attention to it was still building when the Academy members started sending in their ballet nominations.

        • Ed says:

          Such things do happen with the Oscars. It ended up helping Affleck in the end, politically. He was not the only surprise omission from the director nominees – Tarantino and Bigelow did not make the cut, either, and both of them made popular pictures. I was pleasantly surprised for Ang Lee and Benh Zeitlin, particularly the latter – nice to see him get some recognition over the big action flicks directors.

          And possibly not everyone thought Argo was such a masterpiece……

  16. penpen says:

    man, you guys have made me feel really awkward about enjoying this Oscars

    • Jordan says:

      whatever. There were cringe-worthy moments, but there were also genuine laughs, and genuine surprises. And other fun stuff. Opportunity cost-wise: definitely good enough for me!

      • Richard says:

        I agree. Some good stuff, some bad stuff. Given that the theme of the show was Music in the Movies and that McFarlane is a pretty good pop singer in a Rat Pack way (and I mean that as a compliment), he was a good choice although his jokes were hit and miss. The song about Losers to end the show was pretty funny.

    • Timb says:

      Occasionally, weary ennui and know-it-all-ism is not as clever as our LGM commenters think. And, the idea that a guy who produces like 50 prime time comedies has no ability to be funny is ludicrous.

      • SEK says:

        Not when that guy is a manatee collective, it isn’t.

      • ajay says:

        Occasionally, weary ennui and know-it-all-ism is not as clever as our LGM commenters think.

        There will come a day when weary ennui and know it all ism will no longer be funny. BUT THIS IS NOT THAT DAY!
        There will come a day when subjects and verbs does no longer has to agree. BUT THIS IS NOT THAT DAY!

      • spencer says:

        He may well have that ability, I grant you. It just seems like he prefers not to exercise it.

      • Rarely Posts says:

        I didn’t watch the Oscars, but in general, offensive material that’s funny but not perfect works a lot better with cartoons than real people. It’s easier to laugh along with an offensive jerk without hating the offender when he (and it’s almost always a he) is not a real person. Partially that because it’s less hurtful because the victim of the offense is also not a real person. Hence, South Park, Family Guy, American Dad, Drawn Together, etc. can all get away with offensive material that isn’t really that funny, when a live-person needs to have better material to pull it off. Though I have to admit that I really don’t like South Park or Family Guy, and American Dad is very touch-and-go.

  17. Major Kong says:

    I actually thought the skit featuring the sock-puppet version of Flight was pretty damn funny.

    • Royko says:

      The tumbling socks in the dryer made me laugh out loud.

      I think I’m the only person alive who enjoyed the Von Trapp gag. Yeah, it was stupid, but it was stupid in a way that made me smile.

      For me, the lowest low (if I understood the joke) was his roundabout way to use Rex Reed to call Adele fat. It was a bewildering joke that had me googling to figure out the reference, only to eventually work out that it was more insulting toward Adele (and Melissa McCarthy) than to Reed and that it just seemed outright mean-spirited. I mean, say what you want about the boob song, at least it’s an ethos.

      • Richard says:

        I think it was more insulting to Reed but it just wasnt that funny. How many people in the tv audience got the reference? This was way too much of a inside joke to be told at a show like this.

        By the way, Adele is an amazing talent but Skyfall is a stupid song and not deserving of her talents

        • Just Dropping By says:

          I’m glad to hear someone else finally say that. I love Adele, but “Skyfall” is a pretty weak song. There are other Bond themes that are stronger than it and which didn’t even get nominated, let alone win. (Garbage’s “The World is Not Enough” is my off-the-top example.)

        • Royko says:

          Agreed on Skyfall. I felt it tried so hard to be a Bond theme that it forgot to be a good song.

          On a related tangent, I’m not absolutely convinced that the Shirley Bassey performance wasn’t a Maya Rudolph sketch.

        • actor212 says:

          It’s an inside joke to the ultimate inside crowd.

          One thing I learned a long time ago about the Oscars telecast, the emcee has to play to both the TV and live audiences and the live audience hasn’t gotten drunk yet. It’s only 5 o’clock.

          It could be the hardest gig in Hollywood after being Michael Bay’s location manager (“No, I promise. No explosions.”)

  18. Seth MacFarlane is a sort of riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in poo. I honestly cannot get a clear read on the guy. I’ve watched a lot of FG and found it really funny at times and hackneyed and sophomoric at others. I’ve even–this is embarrassing–watched the director’s commentary of some FG episodes. SM seems to genuinely appreciate the women he works with, including the woman with an unimaginably long Thai name who writes (?) produces (?) for the show, and the very talented Alex Borstein (Lois).

    Sometimes FG pushes the envelope and it’s edgy and funny. Sometimes FG pushes the envelope and it just seems like it’s nastiness and ugliness for nastiness and ugliness’ sake. I’ll be sitting there going “WTF was the point of THAT?” They seem determined to shit on any goodwill the show might engender in folks like me. It’s baffling.

  19. I’d like to see a woman host. Pretty much anyone from the cast of “Bridesmaids” will suffice. Kthankxbai.

  20. witless chum says:

    Why is Neil Patrick Harris not just hosting everything?

    • Moleman says:

      Or his butcher, Australian, equivalent Hugh Jackman. Seriously- why they haven’t had him host again is bizarre. Christ, they’ve had Billy Crystal back again since then- was Jackman spending a year dead for tax purposes? Was everybody? (Except Letterman, I guess).

      McFarlane sometimes goes for that same sort of old school smarm, but with extra dickishness (when faced with anyone who idolizes Sinatra and the Rat Pack, remember, those guys were assholes).

    • Barry Freed says:

      Yes, with Stephen Colbert to fill in on occasion.

  21. Nigel Tufnel says:

    What’s wrong with being sexy?

  22. Shane says:

    Would you like him to get off your lawn, grandpa?

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