Sexism Fatigue: When Seth MacFarlane Is a Complete Ass and You Don’t Even Notice
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A strange thing happened on Sunday night when I watched Seth MacFarlane joke that Zero Dark Thirty is a movie about how bitches be naggin', and listened to him croon about how lovely Jodie Foster's naked boobs looked mid-simulated-gang-rape. I felt...nothing. Just nothing. Nothing beyond exhaustion and an extreme desire for wine, anyway. I wasn't happy about it, but compared to what I was expecting from MacFarlane, it was a yawn. Compared to the sheer volume of hate and misogyny I filter every day for my job, it was a sneeze.
So I wrote happy jokes about other stuff instead. I bowed out, essentially. And I was thrilled to read and disseminate smart takedowns of MacFarlane's primetime misogyny on Monday morning, letting other people do the heavy lifting that I was too fatigued to engage with. Because this fatigue—it's really something.
My struggle as a feminist and a critic isn't to contain my outrage—it's to remind myself to feel anything at all.
Because it's important, here's Vulture:
Seth MacFarlane made a whole bunch of sexist, reductive jokes at the Oscars last night. It's frustrating enough to know that 77 percent of Academy voters are male. Or to watch 30 men and 9 women collect awards last night. But MacFarlane's boob song, the needless sexualization of a little girl, and the relentless commentary about how women look reinforced, over and over, that women somehow don't belong. They matter only insofar as they are beautiful or naked, or preferably both. This wasn't an awards ceremony so much as a black-tie celebration of the straight white male gaze.
And the New Yorker:
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.
And the Atlantic:
What the jokes were, really, was stupid, boring, and empty: humor that relied less on its own patently sexist, racist, homophobic, etc. content than on admiration for or disgust with the host's willingness to deliver it. So much of comedy is about the shock of recognition, of seeing some previously unacknowledged truth suddenly acknowledged, but the only recognition MacFarlane offered was that some people say dumb things about other peoples' gender/racial/sexual identities. Which, of course, should not be shocking at all.
Johansson isn't even on MacFarlane's list for a film she made. Instead, she made her way into the song because of a real-life invasion of privacy, where her nude photos were stolen from her phone and leaked to the Internet. That is an actual, not fictional violation, and MacFarlane played it for laughs.
Up top, y'all. Thanks for that. I really couldn't do it. I could barely care that he's said he won't be doing it again next year.