Seth MacFarlane Offends Me.

Via on Feb 25, 2013

 

Source: Uploaded by user via Sharon Dowling on Pinterest

And I’m not alone.

But, even if I am, I have to speak up. Otherwise, the disgust eats away at me.

It was a very different Academy Awards show last night. Granted, I only watched the first third but that was enough to leave me sad, embarrassed and angry.

By the looks on the faces of the female actors in the house, I wasn’t the only one.

I’m no fan of Mr. MacFarlane’s work, in part because his influence has reached frightening proportions. What used to be fringe is now mainstream media. Meaning my 14-year-old son’s friends discuss it, share clips and probably watch full episodes at lunch on devices we prohibit, but everyone else seems to allow, and the school has given up policing. That’s the pop culture in which they are growing up.

I was especially distressed because I had this notion that there was a certain level of class rising to the surface in this year’s acclaimed films. Many (not all) seemed tilted toward inspiration and service rather than mere entertainment. That’s part of the reason I was watching with my son. I wanted to believe that Hollywood is regaining some dignity.

MacFarlane quickly made a mockery of that.

When I was younger, I would just leave the room if Family Guy came on. Well, when I was younger still, I would watch and force a smile even though my stomach was churning. Later, I walked away. Now that we have kids, it’s not part of the television repertoire.

I just don’t see why it’s necessary to be so misogynistic. Or, honestly, why it’s so funny to so many.

Still, MacFarlane and his legions of (mostly male) fans seem to get off on the sexist humor. I don’t understand it but he’s clearly striking a chord.

I would like to be able to appreciate his creative contributions. Really, I would.

But from my view as a woman and mother, the funny and clever sparks get buried beneath the layers of smut.

It’s sad but it’s also scary. Homer Simpson wasn’t much of a role model but he was pretty harmless. Peter Griffin isn’t. Still, many parents let their kids watch any cartoon show without discretion. Although much of the humor surely goes over their heads, the message doesn’t.

I hope The Academy will go for funny and classy when it chooses next year’s host.

And I hope MacFarlane will find more constructive ways to flex his enormous talent muscles.

 

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Ed: Kate Bartolotta

About Amy Taylor

Amy Taylor writes about parenting, yoga and other journeys for jconline.com, GaiamTV, elephant journal and others. Find her biweekly columns here. She completed 200-hour YTT at CITYOGA in Indianapolis in 2008 and teaches classes for all ages at  Community Yoga. When she's not writing or practicing yoga, Amy loves to read, research and have adventures with her husband and twin sons. Follow her on Twitter.

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24 Responses to “Seth MacFarlane Offends Me.”

  1. kjolson89 says:

    I'm interested to read your reaction to the Awards, because I, a strong, independent, proud female, thoroughly enjoyed his performance. I watched Family Guy when I was younger, too, and I totally agree that it isn't a TV show for kids. It's misleading since it is a cartoon, but it's obvious that today animated does not equal "kid friendly." There are many vile comic book series out there as well.
    Anyways, I believe the female actors you referred to deserve some support. During Seth's "We Saw Your Boobs" bit, I was under the impression the female actors showed on screen were in on the joke. Those actors are fully capable of choosing their own roles, nudity included. To be offended by someone calling it out would be to dishonor every female actor's freedom to choose influential, powerful, successful roles that include nudity. Why should women be ashamed of showing their bodies for a role that they selected and dedicated extensive amounts of time and energy to?

    Above all, I respect your right to be offended, and I respect my own right to disagree. Namaste!

    • Amy says:

      I should have realized the reactions were staged. Still, I have trouble believing all strong women watching thought it was nothing but a beautiful tribute to their right to be nude. It didn't sit that way with me. Agree with your right to disagree and appreciate your comments!

  2. Candace says:

    Can we ask what exactly offended you? You may not love his shows, but the man is a genius. He is an extremely well trained musician, and beyond talented with his voice over and animation work. If you stopped watching after "we saw your boobs" sketch, you may have done a disservice to the program and your opinion. The female audience reactions were prerecorded as a joke, and minus the Chris Brown reference, he kept everything pretty clean. I agree with kjolson89, we all have our right to our own opinions. I just think posting this just to tear down a man that did a great job and has accomplished an inspiring amount of achievements, without anything being handed to him, is in poor light. His humor in his adult animation shows and movies may not be your taste but as the son of New England public school teachers, he isn't the worst role model out there.

    • Amy says:

      Hey, I said he was brilliant! I just find his style offensive. Carried a sad twisted feeling in my gut that I couldn't watch the awards show with my son as my mom and I used to do when I was a teen without running into his idea of humor. I would have liked to watch more and it does help to realize the reactions were part of the joke (which I guess should have been obvious). Still, poor taste, in my opinion. I shared it to vent and stand strong in my own sense of right and wrong, certainly not in any hope of diminishing society's great regard for him.

  3. elephantjournal says:

    Hmmmm…I think we're missing some humor here. I don't care for sexism, obviously I hope, but I felt more (though admittedly I couldn't hear all well, was in a crowded bar of Oscar fans) that with the boob thing he was making fun of the patriarchal Hollywood that demands women get naked, just as much as the women for playing along–and remember he called out an exception, too.

    And then unless I'm confused I loooved his condemning, humorously, the yet-to-learn-anything, self-righteously abusive (Ocean, and tattoo) and homophobic Chris Rock and Rihanna relationship–horrible role models for society and children.

    And for what it's worth, he made gay jokes, and Mark Wahlberg and Ted made Jewish jokes. So…not sure. Thanks so much for sharing your experience, in any case–and as a non-parent and non-child I have to admit I'm also ignorant about his TV show, and its influences…it was the first time I'd ever seen him in any form.

    Yours,

    Waylon Lewis, editor

    • Lauren says:

      You've never seen Family Guy?!? It is FAR from a kid's show. If you're into childish but still clever humor, check it out :)

    • Amy says:

      Thanks for chiming in, Waylon. Really only meant to give voice to my own sensitivities here, not defend them as fact. I do suspect that he often mocks men as well as women and most every other group as well. In some ways, I wish I could access and enjoy more of the cleverness it but just find it too soulless for my taste. That's okay. Plenty of other ways to spend my time.

  4. Brian says:

    I am glad you stated that his shows are part of your repertoire, that is the first step in ensuring your kids grow up without certain influences, shame you cant control their friends. I have to admit the show did have a sexist under tone, but is that mcfarlane or the people who wrote the material? If he did write it, who approved it? I would not blame mcfarlane as much as he is only a small part of our society.
    As for his shows, brilliance in action. They are not kids cartoons, by any stretch of the imagination. But the meaning and statements behind them are enormous, tearing apart our societies stupidity, hypocrisy, lack of values, every show has meaning, if you look past how it is delivered.

  5. Amanda says:

    he is there to push your buttons. i enjoyed every minute (except Adele’s performanc~flat). even Sally fields git into it.

  6. Chad says:

    For the sake of time, I'm going to give you my mindless, untactful response. So, please forgive me. If Seth's performance bothered you deeply enough to where you chose to blog about it, and the fact that, in your own words, caused you enough disgust that it's "eating away at you…", then I would suggest you step up your yoga practice. Let's stop being SO sensitive that we are only picking apart everything we see. There's far worse on television. Perhaps, ditch your cable service? Give your child earplugs when you're in public? Cover his eyes from a bumper sticker that may be deemed offensive? Sorry to sound so offensive, but c'mon…let's get real here.

    • Amy says:

      I'm really not suffering greatly over here, only felt a call to summon the courage to speak my visceral experience despite the fact that I suspected it would not be well-received. It was my small act of bravery for the day. Yep, I'm sensitive. No, I'm not going to apologize for it. Namaste.

  7. Chloe says:

    The boob song was a joke tied into Shatner coming from the future letting him know the tabloids said he was tasteless and horrible. He said what happened? And he showed him that clip. It was meant to purposefully be immature and tasteless to support the joke. In any case every tabloid and news said the first 15 minutes were too long and not the best part of the show. To watch only that part is not getting the whole story. I found it to be a very tasteful oscars.

  8. Niki says:

    I refused to watch the show entirely just because it is for the most part a bunch of wealthy elites giving each other golden statues. Also my husband and I found his movie Ted to be disgusting and not worth watching anymore after the first half hour and we are as liberal as they come. Just choosing what to watch these days. Tired of the crap. Choose not to support it.

  9. oz_ says:

    Jerry Mander nailed it over 30 years ago:
    http://www.amazon.com/Arguments-Elimination-Telev

    And Neil Postman made an even more compelling case 10 years later:
    http://www.amazon.com/Amusing-Ourselves-Death-Dis

    Few have even bothered to even try to understand the massively destructive effects of what is effectively the largest uncontrolled social experiment ever conducted.

    • Amy says:

      Thank you for that article, one of many that articulated the issues much better than I did here. My reaction was knee-jerk and not as reflective as it might have been. I rushed to be timely and that's no one's fault or responsibility but my own.

  10. ann says:

    i realize everyone on this comment thread seems to think you're unentitled to be offended, but i really think it's worth seeing the reaction over at the Guardian ( http://www.guardian.co.uk ) …a LOT of people are with you on this one, and frankly, i'm once again saddened that the elephant community seems strangely out of touch with that sentiment. he joked about quvenzhané wallis, a nine-year old girl IN THE AUDIENCE hooking up with george clooney. he joked about the domestic violence between rhianna and chris brown. he joked, yes, about boobs…SUPER funny and of course so very cutting edge. but a lot of the movies and actors he mentioned were portraying rape victims. i'm so tired of the same old excuses for this bigotry. so. flipping. depressing. thank you for writing this, amy. here's hoping you're right about next year, but i won't be tuning in.

  11. Mark says:

    First off, I’m not a parent and I’m not here to provide any parental advice. However, your son is a teenager. He knows what boobs are. It’s up to parents to make it clear what is inappropriate. I know for myself as a teenager my parents had a difficult time talking about sexuality. That’s fine, I still love them to death. The problem is that in my early 20s I was so uncomfortable around women that I was attracted to. I had to teach myself to not be scared of boobs. Of course my parents meant their best and taught me very well to respect women (and I do. I love the girl I’m with and I dream of making her smile everyday). If you are uncomfortable talking about this stuff with your son then I’m sure he will miss out on great opportunities with girls that he likes. I was extremely nervous. I knew nothing about sexuality as a teenager besides using protection an had to teach myself everything as a young adult and it led to stupid mistakes. I lost my virginity in a dorm room to a girl I can’t even remember the name of because I wanted to break the nervousness. That sucks alot. if i hadnt been nervous of how to be with women then i wouldve made smarter choices. By turning off te television at the word boob will make it so your son is nervous of boobs. He needs to see this, hear what Seth is saying and understand why it wasn’t appropriate. Teenagers need to accept their sexuality, not hide from it.

    • Amy says:

      My son and I actually had a great talk about all of it. He said, 'Mom, it's Seth MacFarlane!" and I realized he was already considering the source and taking that under consideration. The kid's much smarter than I give him credit for being.

      I'm okay talking about boobs but MacFarlane/Peter Griffin's drooling attitude towards women is just insulting and gross, in my opinion. I try to avoid it and was bummed that, before I figured out who the host was, he'd already launched into his act.

      And I guess, although I appreciate that I mentioned my son in the article and also that you are willing to share your own experience, I believe that how my husband and I talk to my son about his sexuality is our business and not something I'm willing to discuss in this forum.

    • Amy says:

      That said, thank you for sharing your story. I will keep your thoughts in mind. I had great intentions to be honest and open with my children before I was a parent but old learned behaviors do tend to kick in.

  12. ali says:

    I agree with you – I was not at all entertained by Mr. McFarlane. I just don’t think it’s funny. It’s dumb funny – haha he said boobs! – not clever or intelligent.

    I also find Family Guy disturbing, though I know many of my 13 and 14 year old students love it (and sadly many of my younger students watch it too). What kind of message are they getting about women and healthy relationships?

    Maybe I’m naive but I don’t think the actors were all in on the joke. I felt that is was mocking the artists’ decisions to bare their breasts. Would they do a number called ‘We saw your elbows!’? (or, ‘We saw your dick’? Ack, that sounds so crude!)

    I am we’ll aware that many people will think I am taking this too seriously. But when the entertainment we consume has such a profound subconscious effects, we really should think twice about what we choose to give our attention to.

    Thanks for bravely sharing your opinion!

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