Rookie Oscar host Seth MacFarlane lives up to provocative image

Oscars host Seth MacFarlane speaks on stage at the start of the 85th Academy Awards in Hollywood. Credit: Reuters
Oscars host Seth MacFarlane speaks on stage at the start of the 85th Academy Awards in Hollywood.
Credit: Reuters

Rookie Oscar host Seth MacFarlane casually slung a string of zingers at some of Hollywood’s biggest names, including a musical tribute to female frontal nudity in the movies, as he launched the Academy Awards show on Sunday on a decisively provocative note.

In an opening monologue and package of song-and-dance numbers obviously calculated to live up to, and even lampoon, his own reputation for pushing the boundaries of taste, MacFarlane put his biting, edgy brand of humor front and center.

He started off joking that best-picture front-runner “Argo,” about a real-life clandestine CIA operation to rescue American hostages from Iran, was “so top secret that the film’s director is unknown to the Academy.”

The barb was a not-so-subtle jab at members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for failing to nominate Ben Affleck as best director for the critically acclaimed film.

“They know they screwed up,” MacFarlane added, as the camera panned to a shot of Affleck, looking somewhat uncomfortable in his seat. “Ben, it’s not your fault.”

The edgy quotient quickly escalated as MacFarlane described another best-film candidate, “Django Unchained,” as the slavery-era “story of a man fighting to get back his woman who has been subjected to unthinkable violence – or as Chris Brown and Rihanna call it, a date movie.”

The punch line reference to the physical abuse involved in the relationship between the two R&B singers – Brown pleaded guilty to assaulting Rihanna in 2009 – drew an audible groan from the star-studded Dolby Theatre audience.

“Oh, no, that’s what we were afraid he would do,” MacFarlane dead-panned.

More groans followed as MacFarlane went on to joke that the profanity-laced screenplay from “Django” was “loosely based on Mel Gibson’s voice mails,” an allusion to the public disclosure several years ago of ranting telephone messages the actor-director had left for his then-girlfriend.

SELF-LAMPOONING

MacFarlane’s performance should not have come as too great a surprise. The comedian, actor and singer made his mark as creator of the animated television series “Family Guy,” a show known for its ribald satire, much of it aimed at Hollywood conventions.

And MacFarlane, 39, wasted no time in sending up his own risqué persona, in a comedy bit with actor William Shatner, who joined the host on stage via a video screen in the character of Captain Kirk from the sci-fi TV and film series “Star Trek.”

In his fictional drop-in visit from the future, Shatner warns MacFarlane he is “destroying the Academy Awards” with jokes that are “tasteless and inappropriate.”

But the interlude segued into a song-and-dance number by MacFarlane showcasing his vocal chops to a tune called “We Saw Your Boobs,” in which he rhapsodically ticked off the names of various A-list Hollywood actresses who have bared their breasts in films over the years.

Admonished by Shatner to sing songs that celebrate the movies rather than mock them, MacFarlane proceeded to deliver a more respectful rendering of the showbiz standard, “The Way You Look Tonight,” joined on stage in elegant dance by actress Charlize Theron (“Snow White and the Huntsman”) and actor Channing Tatum (“Magic Mike”).

MacFarlane showed off his own dancing talents in a three-way soft-shoe number with actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“Lincoln”) and “Harry Potter” star Daniel Radcliffe.

In the way that many cartoons, including MacFarlane’s own “Family Guy” series, operate on different levels for kids and their parents, this year’s Oscar telecast seemed especially designed to play to more than one TV audience.

MacFarlane’s more provocative turns were offset by some of the more traditional pomp typical of Hollywood’s biggest night, including a 50th-anniversary montage salute to James Bond films, capped by veteran singer Shirley Bassey, now 76, reprising her title song from the 1964 film “Goldfinger.”

Early reaction to MacFarlane’s performance was mixed.

In a Twitter message posted during the show, actor-comedian and former Oscar host Steve Martin commented, facetiously: “Congratulations to Seth Rogan (another comically risqué actor with the same first name as the host) on a great monologue. Old-fashioned is back! I’m in!”

CNN host Piers Morgan tweeted, “I doubt there will have ever been a more divisive #Oscars host than @SethMacFarlane – I’m loving him, others are hating it.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

Boston Strong: One year on from Boston Marathon…

  For more than a century the Boston Marathon has been an even centred around sportsmanship, endurance and athleticism, but there's no denying the face…

Local

Best nature spots for kids in New York…

When it comes to kids and nature, most U.S. parents agree: children should be spending more time outdoors. According to a recent survey by The…

Local

Easter 2014: The year's best bonnets

It's Easter, and that means it's time for Fifth Avenue to turn into a veritable catwalk of bonnet-wearers. The annual march, which kicks off at…

Local

Woman arrested for attempted kidnapping of baby in…

Authorities said that a Queens woman behind an attempted kidnapping of an 8-month-old baby boy was arrested on Saturday.

Television

‘Mad Men’ recap: Season 7, Episode 2, ‘A…

Peggy and Lou are horrible, Bert's racist, Don is honest(ish) and Roger and Pete are frustrated. "A Day's Work" not quite worthy of "This Will Be Our Year."

Television

'Game of Thrones' recap: Season 4, Episode 3,…

The problem with the devil you know is that ignoring them doesn’t mean they simply lie in wait. It allows them time to do things…

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

NHL

Rangers let chance at victory slip away in…

All the Rangers had to do was hold serve in a raucous Madison Square Garden — roaring in anticipation of putting a hated rival in a 2-0 series hole.

MLB

Yankees place Ivan Nova on DL with partially…

Yankees starter Ivan Nova was diagnosed with a partially torn UCL in his throwing elbow Sunday.

NHL

Rangers never thought opening round would be 'an…

You might have thought the Metropolitan Division semifinal series was going to be a rout after watching Game 1 Thursday night. The Rangers did not.

NHL

Rangers blow two-goal lead in Game 2 loss…

The Rangers got out to an early 2-0 lead in Game 2 and the Garden was rocking. But it went downhill quickly from there.

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.