Tuesday, February 26, 2013

In Defense of Seth MacFarlane

Did I Do That?
Really America? This is what preoccupies us? Our country certainly can be disappointing at times. We are poisoning our children, the food we eat, the very air we breathe. Our civil rights are systematically eroding all around us. State-of-the-art, flying robots are being used to execute innocent women and children across the globe. Meanwhile, the companies responsible for all of this death and destruction are reaping benefits never before seen in the history of modern civilization. In light of all this, how do we react? By hurtling endless vitriol at the dude who hosted the Oscars. Obviously.

In order to manufacture outrage in this country, apparently what you have to do is something really obscene. Like sing a lighthearted ditty about female anatomy, wherein many of the subjects of the humor are in on the joke. Then people will be furious. They'll take to the message boards, they'll gather around the proverbial water coolers of their lives and bitch like petulant children.

Somebody Call the Waaambulance.
God forbid you make any sort of self-aware racist barb, anti-semitic quip or homophobic wisecrack. After all, a meta-joke is no defense for a tasteless slur! Except that, it is. Because instead of making fun of blacks, or Jews, or Gays, you're making fun of the people that make fun of blacks and Jews and Gays. That's a substantiative, fundamental difference and if you don't understand it then the joke is on you, as well.

I'm hardly a Seth MacFarlane loyalist. Sure, I'll watch an episode of Family Guy once in a while if it's late, I can't sleep and I've been hanging out in, say, post-2012 Colorado or Washington state. But I'm not in love with the guy (not that there's anything wrong with that). Actually, I wish I wasn't in a position where I'm forced to defend him. But Sweet Jesus, the internet will just not leave this man alone. 

There are so many things to despise about the Oscars. It's a bloated, drawn-out, self-important pageantry of pomp that could easily be condensed into 30 minutes of significance, commercials included. Yet none of these perennially aggravating flaws have anything to do with Seth MacFarlane nor his particular brand of irreverent humor. 

After Glimpsing Into The Future of His Career
Truth be told, if there was any problem with the host this past Sunday it was that he was far too tame. Anybody that has at least a modicum of familiarity with truly offensive humor--from talentless pigs the likes of George Carlin, Lenny Bruce, Louis CK, and early 80s Eddie Murphy--would understand the subdued nature of MacFarlane's supposedly vulgar outbursts. 

Worse still are the people that complain that he was predictable and boring in his tastelessness. YOU ARE PRECISELY THE PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE LACK OF EDGINESS. He tamped it down and made it boring to appease you, the self-important, squeamish masses! If you complain this much about him--sans his prickliest barbs--imagine how frothily you'd be foaming at the mouth if you got the full-on Family Guy version of the dude! 

Oh heavens to bitsy! Did he just allude to Jodie Foster's on-screen nudity?! That was from during a (gasp) rape scene! Have you no decency?

How Dare You Objectify Me!
Guess what? The idea of someone pausing the screen during a rape scene to admire Jodie Foster's female form is patently absurd--nobody admires Jodie Foster's female form! If you can't find humor in that, it's you that has the problem. At it's very core comedy is pure magic in its ability to somehow extract laughter from the depths of despair. It's a uniquely human trait--and a miraculous one at that. Don't diminish or cheapen it with your stubborn attempts to prove that someone has hurt your feelings--or worse yet--somebody else's feelings! 

Louis CK once wondered aloud when the soonest appropriate time would be to jerk-off in the wake of 9/11 (for him, it was between the first and second tower falling). Masturbation as related to the greatest single tragedy in our nation's history. This is the same guy whose material includes punchlines about his own daughters being sexually assaulted.  That is offensive stuff. That makes MacFarlane at the Oscars seem like Mother Theresa on Jay Leno. But you know what? People still find it funny. A lot of people, in fact. Louis CK is practically the biggest name in comedy today. Just because you don't find it funny doesn't mean there is no traceable comedic value. To assume so is egotistical and ignorant. Above all, it's insensitive to the tastes of others--which is what you're bitching about to begin with. That makes you a hypocrite at best and a self-righteous prick at worst.

All this phony sanctimony is positively maddening and painfully transparent: people will, without mercy, seek out THE. EASIEST. WAY. to feel better about themselves. We could go march down on Washington, right now, demanding legislators bring our troops home from pointless battles in faraway lands, insist on corporate accountability for our increasingly toxic, cancer-inducing environment--just to randomly name but a couple of serious issues plaguing us on the reg. But that would involve action. You know, like big-time, logging-off-of-Facebook kind of action. It's so much easier to just tweet your displeasure at someone who voices cartoons for a living, feign big ol' crocodile tears and show everybody how socially conscious you are. As if it's not bad enough that we have to live in a world where cataclysmic injustice goes furiously unchecked, now you wanna strip me of my only coping mechanism for dealing with that fact: unapologetically ruthless comedy. As they say, you can either laugh or you can cry.

But you know what makes me legitimately wanna cry? Aside from the fact that we live in a country where the dude who made a joke about Chris Brown beating up Rihanna catches more flack than the guy who actually beat up Rihanna (last I checked, Chris Brown has sold more records after physically abusing a seven time Grammy award-winning woman than he did before). What saddens me the most is that all this misspent outrage mutates society into one big self-satisfied delusion. As if railing against irreverent humor is a respectable stand-in for retaliating against global atrocities with rampant apathy and consistent inaction. Ultimately we end up with precisely what we deserve: Billy Crystal hosting the Oscars again. And that, my friends, is no laughing matter.

This Is Funny, Right?