Where to begin with Seth MacFarlane’s Oscars performance last night? Do I start by condemning the part where he made a joke sexualizing 9-year-old actress Quvenzhane Harris to her face in front of her family? Maybe the part where he applauded women for getting the flu to lose weight? “Looking good,” he said, with thorough creepiness. There’s always his joke about how the Jews run Hollywood — long-standing anti-Semitic slurs are good for a laugh, after all.
I could start with his dumbest part: “I’ve Seen Your Boobs.” If dehumanizing an audience of women on one of the most important nights of their careers wasn’t enough for you, MacFarlane also didn’t care about the context. Jodie Foster’s topless scene in The Accused was a rape scene, after all. Objectification of women’s nothing new in society, so he also brought in a gay choir group to spice things up. Did you know gay men aren’t sexually aroused by a woman’s breasts? That’s comedic, right?
Of course, if you didn’t find this funny, you don’t “get” comedy. Look at Rob Delaney’s feed, after all! He offends people all the time! Surely his well-thought-out, socially-conscious tweets are the same thing as MacFarlane’s juvenile dehumanizations, right? Why can’t you take a joke? Why can’t you laugh when the humor isn’t inherent, but rather derived from forcing you to be uncomfortable and upset? What’s wrong with you?
Most obnoxiously, there are those who will undoubtedly defend MacFarlane as free speech, which it was. Misogynists, homophobes, and racists often seek refuge beneath our most sacred right when condemned, mistakenly equating freedom of speech with freedom from criticism. MacFarlane is of course free to say whatever he likes and offend whomever he wants, and I am free to not watch him do it. The Academy, for its part, is also free: to hire someone else next time.