Well, I guess I have to write about the Oscars now. THANKS, SETH MACFARLANE.
Lots of ink — virtual and otherwise — has been spilled about the Family Guy/Ted creator’s headline-grabbing performance hosting this year’s awards, and lots of super smart responses to the now-infamous musical opener “We Saw Your Boobs” — YUP! YOU’RE STILL JUST A PAIR OF CANS, LADIES! — can be found all over the Internet. (Here. You’re welcome.)
As many critics have pointed out, MacFarlane’s run-down of movie nude scenes wasn’t just juvenile, it was also deeply problematic due to the fact that many took place during or right after a violent sexual assault. Kinda undercuts the whole HEH HEH HEH BEWBS! angle he was ostensibly going for, doesn’t it?
“But!” protests the Internet, “he was being SATIRICAL. Don’t you humourless feminists understand SATIRE?” (My other favourite recurring comment: “But Jennifer Lawrence totally laughed!” OH, OK THEN. Let me guess: some of your best friends are women and they totally laughed, too.)
“You just don’t get it.”
UM, I TOTALLY get it. YOU don’t get it. Those who think this song was somehow a subversive comment on Hollywood’s treatment of women are giving MacFarlane entirely too much credit — mainly because ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about his act was subversive. Not only did he come across as a sexist ass, he didn’t do his job as a comedian (save for one good winking line about Ben Affleck’s best director snub). Good comedians are supposed to provoke. Good comedy is supposed to be about, as The Atlantic’s Spencer Kornhaber wrote, “the shock of recognition, of seeing some previously unacknowledged truth suddenly acknowledged.” MacFarlane’s Oscar jokes — the boob song, the Jennifer Aniston stripper comment, the sexualization of a nine-year-old girl, take your pick — were banal and expected. So expected, even, I barely even reacted to the boob song as it was playing live on my TV. I wasn’t outraged. I was exhausted.
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I’m not the only one. Jezebel’s Lindy West wrote this excellent piece on sexism fatigue, and I can’t agree with it more. Because some days it’s hard to scream in all caps. As West herself screams in all caps, “I AM TIRED OF TRYING TO EXPLAIN THIS SHIT TO PEOPLE WHO DON’T WANT TO HEAR IT.” Like the MacFarlane apologists who claim he’s not a misogynist because he was likeable in an interview once. Or those who trot out the old “relax, it’s just a joke, stop taking everything so seriously” chestnut. (Gee, thanks for your unsolicited and original opinion! I’ve totally NEVER been called a shrill harridan before!)
Here’s the thing: we DON’T need to calm down. We need to be outraged. We need to stand up and say, “This isn’t OK and I will not accept this.” Because these jokes SHOULDN’T be expected. We need to demand better. And, as exhausting as it is, we need to be united on that front — which is why I ultimately decided to add my flame to the fire by writing this column and simultaneously send a virtual sing-it-sister-gram to Lindy West.
Because the fact that misogyny hit 40 million primetime viewers in the face on Sunday night and people STILL DON’T RECOGNIZE IT is, frankly, disturbing.
Jen Zoratti is a Spectator Tribune columnist and freelance music scribe. Follow her on Twitter @JenZoratti.