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MacFarlane Succeeds With

Controversy, Ratings

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Seth MacFarlane. Images by Michael Yada.
The Brouhaha Surrounding Seth MacFarlane’s Selection And Performance As Host Of The 2013 Academy Awards Show Was Nothing More Than A Calculated Public Relations Gambit


By Wayne Schutsky
Special for Modern Times Magazine

Feb. 26, 2013 — Another awards show, another uproar. In what seems to be the natural follow up to Ricky Gervais' controversial turn as host of the Golden Globes last year, Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane ruffled some feathers when he held no punches as the host of this year's Academy Awards.

But, in light of the recent controversy, I find myself asking one thing: what is all the fuss about?

Sure, MacFarlane's monologue was rather tawdry and the comments he made throughout the night were racy, to say the least. He made light of Chris Brown and Rihanna's domestic violence issues, asked Daniel Day Lewis if he tried to "free" Don Cheadle while method acting in preparation for Lincoln, and performed a dance number dedicated to all the actresses in the audience who had shown their breasts on screen.

But this behavior is not out of the ordinary for MacFarlane, the man who made his name by bringing poop jokes to the Sunday night comedy crowd via Family Guy.

The producers of the event knew exactly what they were getting themselves into when they hired the host. They didn't bring back Billy Crystal or some other straight-laced mass appeal icon. Heck, they didn't even bring in Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, the sharp-witted comediennes who host the Golden Globes and bring a little more tact to their brand of sardonic humor.

Instead, they chose to hire the guy who just made a movie about a living teddy bear that likes to smoke pot and hump stuff.

They brought in a host they knew would draw ratings and headlines.

So, I have to ask again, what is all of the fuss about?

Were any of us really surprised when MacFarlane took the stage and immediately began doling out hits on the Hollywood aristocracy? ABC and the show's producers sure weren't shocked, given that most of the sketches and jokes that drew the most ire were scripted ahead of time.

While some of MacFarlane's jokes were most likely improvised, the comedy team charged with creating content for the host wrote a good portion of the material. Most of these professional comedy writers have been working events like the Oscars for years and know exactly how to read the pulse of a room and strike the right nerve.

And what about those sketches? You know, the Boob Musical and the video of MacFarlane getting down with Sally Field. They filmed both skits in advance of the awards show, putting to rest any notion of improvisation on MacFarlane's part.

If the Academy was looking for a wholesome show, they would have brought in a vanilla, Jay Leno-esque host, with the requisite catalog of unfunny and inoffensive jokes to front the event. The night would have gone off without a hitch, and, the next day, no one would be talking about it.

But they wanted ratings, headlines and controversy. And, when you look at it that way, MacFarlane did not disappoint.

Wayne Schutsky is a senior contributor to Modern Times Magazine.
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