When Seth McFarlane, creator of Fox’s over-the-top animated comedy “Family Guy,” was announced as the host of the 2013 Oscars, everyone knew that there was a high chance the animator and voice actor would offend a lot of people. But it seems he may have went further than some expected on Sunday night.
Out of all of McFarlane’s antics at the Oscars on Sunday, the most poorly received was a joke about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, right after praising Daniel Day Lewis’ performance “Lincoln.”
“I’d argue that the actor who really got inside Lincoln's head was John Wilkes-Booth,” McFarlane said to a chorus of shocked responses.
“Really? 150 years and it’s still too soon?” He asked the audience. For a lot of people, it was. So many Twitter users took offense to the joke that “John Wilkes-Booth” became a trending topic.
“That John Wilkes Booth joke appalling. Don't think any jokes around Lincoln's death unfathomable, but that one was ugly,” tweeted NPR host Scott Simon.
Interestingly enough, McFarlane started the night out knowing that he would be offending more than a few Oscar viewers, and his introductory speech seemed designed to address those concerns. Before he could begin, McFarlane had William Shatner appear as his “Star Trek” character Captain James T. Kirk to warn McFarlane that he was about to become “the worst Oscar host ever.”
Sadly, not only was Kirk’s in-character joke correct, it proved to be the funniest bit of the night. At least when Shatner was talking. For years, Shatner has been the master of self-depreciating comedy, and his bit as Kirk oozed self-awareness. Unfortunately, McFarlane opted to feign Shatner’s brand of self-depreciation to promote his vanity talents.
Instead of making the opening scene an attempt to legitimately poke fun at himself, McFarlane used the opportunity to launch into not one, but three self-indulgent song and dance numbers. One of which simply recounted the actresses who’ve bared their breasts on camera. It's the perfect example of "Family Guy's" sense of humor that loves attacking anyone who isn't a straight white male. And no, Seth, simply acknowledging that you know it’s offensive doesn’t make it okay.
All in all, only one of McFarlane’s jokes landed the way it was intended. In a surprisingly inspired move, McFarlane announced that the Von Trapp family would be singing a number from “The Sound of Music.” He motioned towards the door twice, but the family never appeared. Finally, a man in a Nazi uniform bolted through the door yelling, “They’re gone!” It was a clever, smart joke that didn’t rely on bashing anyone. McFarlane was a bit too light on those Sunday night.
Ultimately, McFarlane may not have been the worst Oscars host ever, but he was certainly close. But hey, at least he had the good sense to know that “Ted” was a trainwreck.
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