Oscar d00dly b00bfest best for lying down, avoiding

We had a much-needed little Front Range snowstorm yesterday.  It was so peaceful and quiet–Sundays are usually pretty quiet days in Potterville, but with the snow swallowing all outdoor sounds, it was even quieter.  I had a beef burgundy* in the oven, and we made a fire and watched a Harry Potter movie instead of the Academy Awards.

It turns out that it was a really excellent decision to shut out the rest of the world last night.  I keep thinking about the old Monty Python skit about Australian wines:  “this isn’t a wine for drinking!  It’s a wine for lying down and avoiding.”  (Don’t miss Linda Holmes’s review at NPR.)  In the end, I think Amy Davidson’s analysis was the best I’ve read today:

Watching the Oscars last night meant sitting through a series of crudely sexist antics led by a scrubby, self-satisfied Seth MacFarlane. That would be tedious enough. But the evening’s misogyny involved a specific hostility to women in the workplace, which raises broader questions than whether the Academy can possibly get Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to host next year. It was unattractive and sour, and started with a number called “We Saw Your Boobs.”

“We Saw Your Boobs” was as a song-and-dance routine in which MacFarlane and some grinning guys named actresses in the audience and the movies in which their breasts were visible. That’s about it. What made it worse was that most of the movies mentioned, if not all (“Gia”), were pretty great—“Silkwood,” “Brokeback Mountain,” “Monster’s Ball,” “Monster,” “The Accused,” “Iris”—and not exactly teen-exploitation pictures. The women were not showing their bodies to amuse Seth MacFarlane but, rather, to do their job. Or did they just think they were doing serious work? You girls think you’re making art, the Academy, through MacFarlane, seemed to say, but all we—and the “we” was resolutely male—really see is that we got you to undress. The joke’s on you. At a moment when Sheryl Sandberg, the Facebook chief operating officer, talks about how women have to “lean in” in the workplace, Seth MacFarlane pops up from behind to say, “So we can see your boobs.”

.       .       .       .       .

The main misogynistic awfulness was centered on the workplace. There might have been a slight dread that MacFarlane would make a waterboarding joke, but he didn’t—maybe he felt that Senator Richard Burr, of North Carolina, had taken care of that at the Brennan hearings. But since so much of MacFarlane’s humor was rote and derivative, it’s more likely that he just stopped at the idea that “Zero Dark Thirty” was about “every woman’s innate ability to never ever let anything go.” That’s what it means when a woman in the office believes in something, and presses for it? There was a joke, too, about Jennifer Aniston not admitting having worked as an “exotic dancer”—and at that point MacFarlane had already more or less called Meryl Streep one. It’s possible that the line about not caring that he couldn’t understand a word that Penelope Cruz or Salma Hayek said because they were good to look at was directed as much at Latinos as at women, since he also mentioned Javier Bardem—but that doesn’t make it any better. What are women in Hollywood for? To judge from a few other MacFarlane jokes, they’re for dating men in Hollywood, until the men decide that they’re too old.

How old is that? Quvenzhané Wallis, who was nominated for best actress, is nine years old. “To give you an idea how young she is, it’ll be sixteen years before she’s too old for Clooney,” MacFarlane said. (And what is too young?) But the misogynistic low point involving Wallis was a tie between MacFarlane and the Onion. After a clip of her performance in “Beasts of the Southern Wild” played—in which she acted strong and independent and ready to yell back—she pumped her arms joyously. “Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a cunt, right?” the Onion tweeted. The line was deleted an hour later. But rather than being an aberration, it was of a piece with the evening. Act assertively, and we’ll put you down. (As with the Salma Hayek thing, there may have been a racial strain to this one, which only makes it more enraging.) And anyway, when you grow up, we’ll just want you to show your boobs.

Hollywood:  where men no one wants to see naked (Seth McFarlane, for example!) make fun of women for doing one of the few things they’re permitted to do in Hollywood, which is to get naked on camera.  Bonus points for sexualizing a child and calling her a c^nt, too!  Like we say around the ranch:  awesome!!!

*New secret ingredients:  prunes and white wine!  I didn’t want to start my car yesterday and so decided to make do with what I had on hand, and it turned out pretty great.  Snow days are meant for braises and stews.

13 thoughts on “Oscar d00dly b00bfest best for lying down, avoiding

  1. I watched it in 1999, when Whoopi Goldberg was the host, and I thought she was funny. She came out in full whiteface as Queen Elizabeth, which was a pretty cool inversion of racial masquerade. Halle Berry’s dress that year was gorgeous. I think that’s the last time I watched the show–it’s just too self-congratulatory for my taste.

    And now that I know that it’s an unfunny d00dfest, I can feel even more morally superior in my rejection of the spectacle! Next year, Johnny Knoxville for host? I wonder what Paulie Shore is doing these days?


  2. Went to sleep at 9pm. Oscar is not about quality, it’s about popularity. That’s the worst measure for art. Selection of announcers is beyond me. Why not a woman? There is no lack of funny and smooth women. (Not Degeneres please!) Why not Billy Crystal he never insults anybody.

    As I answered the dean about my absence from school wide faculty meeting: “will not attend the next 10 years either.”


  3. Trapped by a blizzard — or what passes for a blizzard to these California-boy eyes — as I was in a hotel room somewhat near Potterville, I tried to watch a few minutes of it. After the BIG NUMBER, which turned out to be nothing more than an excuse to revel in staring at women’s breasts (with a quick detour for some casual homophobia), I found myself really sad. So I bundled up and talk a walk in the storm. Even a sprawling metropolis like the one near Potterville gets very quiet when blanketed with fresh snow. The landscape didn’t quite swallow the echoes of gleeful misogyny, but it was still lovely and, as you say, peaceful.


  4. On the other end of the spectrum, last night I youtubed to a clip of Will Ferrell accepting the Mark Twain award and was really impressed when he noted that out of the 14 times they’ve given the award, he was the 11th white male to receive it (an historic event, he noted). I thought, “Go Will Ferrell.”


  5. AND – most of the women whose boobs he’s so delighted about were playing *rape victims* in those movies. E.g. Swank in Boys Don’t Cry, Foster in The Accused. Language fails me, Historiann – can you write one of your amazing rants about this?


  6. I never watch these things, but what’s “undress,” much less “get naked” about showing nothing more than these guys would be fully privileged to do if they had the bellies for it (which they don’t, except when celebrity rags airbrush them into gym-ready shape). This sounds more puerile than my eighth-grade overnight camp.

    That sounds like a good dinner, on the positive side…


  7. O.M.G., loumac: please tell me you’re pranking me.

    Then again, Katy Waldman at Slate says that we’re being too touchy and not strategic about picking our battles. Don’t we get it that in a show that honored several talented women, the jokes were “punching up?,” and not at all unfair putdowns. Because it’s not like men actually run Hollywood according to any narrow sexist standards, or anything. The ladies are in charge! Feminists have no sense of humor. And that’s the problem with feminists instead of Seth McFarlane and the writers of this cock-up of a show.

    Of all of the commentaries about that show, NONE has found it funny or entertaining. Most people have called it a total disaster, one that makes David Letterman and even Rob Lowe dancing with Snow White look good. (Or at least more entertaining!)


  8. Well, this makes it clear that I made a good choice to keep working on my taxes last night! I enjoy the red carpet, but the one time I’ve watched seriously was when Ellen DeGeneres hosted… so the stupid boy humor was not on offer.

    Some days it is just amazing that nothing has really changed.


  9. Self-congratulatory is the perfect adjective for that show, which I had the misfortune to catch part of–rotten luck, I missed the best bits (Adele, Shirley Bassey, Streisand). Katy Waldman is pathetic. Yes, do let’s pick our battles. Don’t you know there’s a scarcity of bandwidth. If you selfishly complain about misogyny in Hollywood, a victim in India or Sudan will have to do without.

    But credit where credit is due: Which other industry in the U.S. has stayed just as strong and globally competitive as it was 100, 75, or 50 years ago? The ghastly exercise in self-congratulation earns a fortune in ad revenue every year, no matter who hosts. And Hollywood product, dubious though it surely is, continues to sell.


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  11. Wonderful rant from a “fatigued feminist” over at Jezebel (as well as a good round-up of media reactions):


    Choice citation: ” I am tired of trying to have an intellectual discussion about dog-whistle sexism in a culture where prominent politicians are still trying to grasp what rape is … I am tired of being called a shrieking harridan for pointing out inequalities so tangible and blatant that they are regularly codified into law. I am tired of being told to provide documentation of inequality in the comments sections of a website where a staff of smart women documents inequality as fast as our fingers can move. Like, you might as well write me a note on a banana peel demanding that I prove to you that bananas exist.”


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