“Sorry, not watching red carpet. I have a kid and “Dog with a Blog” is on.” That was my first Oscar-related tweet of the night last night, and in hindsight, keeping the TV on the Disney Channel might have been a better choice. When I tuned into ABC’s red carpet coverage at 7, Kristin Chenoweth’s terrifying attempt at “nice” became grating immediately and I had to turn it off. My daughter and I tuned back in about 15 minutes before the ceremony was about to start, just in time to catch Chenoweth “relating” to Adele talking about dressing in a way that flatters her figure. (Paraphrasing Chenoweth: “No, I get it, it’s hard for me to find the right gowns, too, because I’m so skinny and short it’s like I’m a doll. RIGHT??? Say it, Atkins! I’m pretty! SAY IT!!!”)
My daughter has seen three of the films that were up for awards last night: Brave, Les Miserables and Beasts of the Southern Wild. I planned to take her to see Lincoln after seeing it myself, but I never got around to it. My daughter loved Les Miz and is now obsessed with the music, so I was bummed to hear Anne Hathaway talking on the red carpet for the umpteenth time about how hard it was for her to lose weight and cut her hair for her role. Glorifying weight loss for a role is a bad idea, actresses of the world, and though you may think talking about how hungry you were would send a message to girls that not eating is a bad thing, really all you’re doing is making yourself a martyr in the name of skinnidom. Fortunately my daughter has a brilliant sense of humor and a knack for seeing through b.s., so when she noticed the countdown clock on the bottom of the screen she said, “13 minutes and 22 seconds of this blubber!,” and I laughed the way Seth MacFarlane’s mother might have laughed at his jokes if he told any that weren’t awful.
When MacFarlane took the stage, I had high hopes for his performance. His “make Tommy Lee Jones laugh” bit started the show strong, but then everything fell apart a few jokes in. It’s not to say that I think MacFarlane isn’t talented; even if you don’t like Family Guy, it’s clear that the dude is a manic genius. It’s just that whoever books the Oscars hosting gig has to start booking people who aren’t totally filled with contempt for Hollywood, who can find a way – yes, like Tina and Amy did at the Globes – to get their jabs in at the ugly parts of the business with a sense of wonder and gratitude for the incredible parts. Jeff Daniels said it best in this tweet, “Yes, put a lid on self indulgence, but go back to honoring high achievement with class. You can’t celebrate excellence at a roast.” Right on.
It’s hard to say which of MacFarlane’s bad moments was the worst. Some people really hated the “boobs song,” though it didn’t bother me that much. I think the Lincoln joke was honestly the hackiest and most tasteless part of his whole show, especially because he followed the audience’s groan with the way-overused “too soon?” save. No, it’s not too soon, Seth, your joke was just dumb. Shatner should have warned you about that.
But the most offensive joke of the entire night according to the Internet came not from the Oscars telecast itself, but from The Onion’s reaction to it on Twitter. Whoever was in charge of the Onion account last night tweeted something ridiculously offensive about Quvenzhané Wallis, the 9-year-old star of the breathtaking film Beasts of the Southern Wild. It’s hard to say if The Onion calling the mega-watt child star the c-word is worse than MacFarlane making a joke about her being old enough to have sex with George Clooney, since both are pithy, disgusting, lazy, unacceptable comments. Since when is it okay to use a 9-year-old girl as the butt of a joke? The assumption on the part of these joke-writers is that she’s too young to understand what’s being said about her, I suppose, but that’s super insulting, too. This girl is clearly a gifted and intelligent young child – and she is a child. I mean, she wore a puppy purse with her gown, for Christ’s sake. To strip her of her innocence like that for the sake of a sympathy chuckle: ew. Just ew.
I put my daughter to bed after Adele sang Skyfall, which was really the highlight of the show (tho mad props go to Shirley Bassey, Jennifer Hudson and Barbara Streisand as well). If you’re wondering why there were so many out-of-place and awkwardly forced references to Chicago throughout the night last night (including Catherine Zeta-Jones lip-syncing), it’s because Craig Zadan, who produced the Oscars also produced Chicago. (Thank you, Doree Shafrir.)
By the end of the show, I felt like my PTSD was starting to get triggered from all the insanity, so I had to disassociate a lil bit, but I did appreciate Jennifer Lawrence falling up the stairs and then being awesome about it, Daniel Day-Lewis doing Meryl Streep humor and Ben Affleck’s speech for Best Movie (Argo). While acknowledging his wife Jennifer Garner, Affleck admitted that their marriage has taken work, but that it is “the best kind of work.” He then closed with one of the only true takeaway thoughts of the night: “It doesn’t matter how you get knocked down in life, cuz that’s gonna happen, all that matters is that you gotta get back up.” Great advice, Ben, whether you’re 7 or 70.