RSS
Oscars 2013: Was host Seth MacFarlane a self-indulgent flop?
The Family Guy creator got everyone's attention with his "Boob Song," but there's a pretty deep split over whether that's a good thing
 
Apparently, Seth MacFarlane saw some boobs.
Apparently, Seth MacFarlane saw some boobs. Kevin Winter/Getty Images

"Seth MacFarlane is terribly talented," says Joanne Ostrow at The Denver Post. The host of the 2013 Academy Awards, and creator of Family Guy, "can sing, dance, do cartoon voices and carry off a tuxedo." But between his "racist jokes, adolescent boy humor, silliness on the topic of domestic abuse, a Kardashian reference," and excessive use of pre-taped bits, MacFarlane wasn't the "elegant showman" the Oscars demand. "By turns too 'inside,' low-rent, and goofy, MacFarlane wasn't the worst Oscar host ever" — see David Letterman, 1995 — but the 2011 "Franco-Hathaway embarrassment now has a rival." (Watch MacFarlane's most risqué jokes below, and his opening song-and-dance routines, including his "We Saw Your Boobs" song.)

The reviews of MacFarlane's hosting duties were by no means all negative — in The Week's own snap poll, 51 percent of readers found him "hilarious," versus 25 percent who thought he was "downright awful" — but viewers tended to either love or hate his mix of self-deprecating humor and off-color zingers.

MacFarlane was "totally offensive" and crass — and it was awesome, says Bonnie Fuller at Hollywood Life. Thanks to his take-no-prisoner hosting, and his "not being afraid to be offensive, but doing it multiple times, we now have our most entertaining Oscars in our memory." MacFarlane was fearless and funny, and the result "was full-on insanity that worked." His only off-joke was one about how long the show was getting, because "when an Oscar show is as good as this one, it doesn't feel long." It takes a remarkable talent to go "host-to-host with veteran Billy Crystal and not be a loser."

"Give this to MacFarlane: He threw everything he had at it," says Robert Bianco at USA Today. He played with sock puppets, dressed up as the Flying Nun, and "even got Tommy Lee Jones to laugh at a joke about getting Tommy Lee Jones to laugh." But he put so much of himself into it that it was hard to escape the thought that he was using the Oscars "to audition for his own variety show." The Boob Song was supposed to represent, then defuse, the "wild, crazy, and tasteless" stunts people were worried about from MacFarlane, but it "was, unfortunately, less wild, crazy or tasteless than it needed to be." And what followed "fell somewhere in between Billy Crystal's Oscars classics and something you might have seen on The Andy Williams Show."

It's as if he saw the Oscar assignment as his last, best chance to revive vaudeville.... To be fair, putting on the Oscars is no easy task, and hosting it has become nearly impossible. We want the show to move along while occasionally moving us. We want the host to be funny while maintaining some sense of the occasion. In neither case did we fully get our wish. Still, if MacFarlane's act was often flat and self-conscious, he did at least put obvious thought and effort into it. That's more than can be said for, say, James Franco, just in case MacFarlane really is worried that the "Worst Host Ever" joke headline he put on screen might actually come true. "Best ever" may be out of reach, too. But hey, there's always that shot at The Seth MacFarlane Show. [USA Today]

MacFarlane's raciest jokes:

The Boob Song, plus the rest of MacFarlane's monologue:

 

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week