Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Laughing at Yourself: On Criticizing the Oscars

All this criticizing of Seth MacFarlane at the Oscars is really getting to me:
I am sick to death of the idea that “it’s just comedy” somehow gives you a free pass when you’re saying things that are racist and sexist. Link to article.
And I am sick to death of people who are so offended by offensiveness. There's a reason the entertainment industry has created an entire industry around offensive humor: because (sometimes) it's funny. See Seth's Top 10 offensive Oscar jokes here.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not defending Seth MacFarlane, and I'm certainly no fan of his. I have watched the occasional Family Guy, and I roll my eyes more often than I snicker. But here is what truly irritates me about these critics of this year's Oscars:

1. You knew it was coming and you watched it anyway. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that with McFarlane hosting, the show was going to include off-color humor. You could have easily saved yourself the anxiety, taken a Benadryl, and read a list of the winners the next morning.

2. His jokes weren't that offensive. Consider the topics he didn't cover: Charlize Theron's cheating husband/Kristen Stewart, Honey Boo Boo (oh, thank god), Osama bin Laden, mental illness, Halle Berry's legal battles, Lindsay Lohan ... Also, offensiveness has to do with context. It's a lot different hearing sexist or racist jokes on television than when your boss is tossing them around the break room. Much different.

3. And most of them weren't that funny either. Anti-MacFarlane fans can revel in the facs that most of his "offensive" remarks only garnered groans anyway. There's nothing worse than making jokes on stage when nobody's laughing.

4. Celebrities have tough skin. You didn't make it to the Oscars without overcoming the critics. And you're wearing clothes I wouldn't be able to afford after a lifetime of working! A night of slights at American Royalty is just what the public needs to bring the country's superheroes back down to Earth.

5. It's funny because it's true. If you aren't comfortable with who you are -- Hollywood Jews who only hire other Jews, a domestically violent couple, or showing off your boobs on the big screen --  then change it. That's the beauty of Hollywood and America: you can change your image/self. As Ben Affleck proved with Best Film, Argo.

5. You can only be offended if you can't laugh at yourself. Come on, this is basic 4th grade playground psychology. They can't be laughing at you if they're laughing with you. And YOU are the only person who has control over your own laughter. Go home and have a good cry afterwards, if you must. But ultimately, consider: if you can't laugh at who you are, then CHANGE YOURSELF!

This last point irritates me more than anything else. People like to point the finger at someone who has offended them, when really it's a chance to look within. Why am I offended by humor that was meant to entertain? Am I really comfortable with who I am regardless of what others say about me?

A quote from Silver Linings Playbook sums it up nicely (in more ways than one -- go Jennifer Lawrence!):
There will always be a part of me that is dirty and sloppy, but I like that, just like all the other parts of myself ... Can you say the same for yourself, fucker?
Can you?