Sexism at the Oscars: Something Worth Protesting

There are many things that can be said about Seth Macfarlane’s performance as host of the 2013 Oscars: sophomoric, childish, corny, at times classy (really only when he was singing), and above all, sexist. We all know that a little over 3/4 of Academy voters are male each year, and only 9 women accepted awards on Sunday night as opposed to the 30 men who won. It’s hard enough for women to break into the film industry with some legitimacy to their name without men putting their female counterparts down at every turn. It’s this type of regressive behavior that seems to be so favored in the comedic humor of television shows and movies of the United States that is constantly making it harder and harder for women to be taken seriously in their chosen professions. And Seth Macfarlane is one of those backwards thinking comedian/writers that seems to enhance this stereotype with his television shows (such as Family Guy and American Dad) and now his Oscar hosting performance.

One example of this sexist attitude towards comedy is Seth Macfarlane’s first bit     of the night: his opening monologue and the “We Saw Your Boobs” song. If you haven’t seen it yet, you must have heard of it. Macfarlane embarrassed a number of actresses who have shown their bodies in films (all except Jennifer Lawrence, who has yet to bare all in a movie). These women show their bodies because the script called for that character to be exposed for that seen, not by choice. If they want the part, sometimes they have to show a little skin in order to get it (a sad fact, but a lot of male directors tends to portray women as objects in certain films. Or thinks having a woman naked adds to a sex scene). Directors work it into actress’s contracts that they have to be nude for a particular scene, and if it gets them exposure with a famous director or a good script, whose to argue? But reminding the millions of people watching the Oscars that certain women have shown their breasts in a film and embarrassing them in front of their fan base is just sadistic and cruel. The Oscars are not an episode of Family Guy, where you can get away with toilet humor and sexist jokes. The Academy Awards are meant to be an upstanding affair for the actors, actresses, directors, and producers in the mainstream and independent film industry. Subjecting the film elite to the rantings of a college humor comedian is nothing short of a travesty.

The Atlantic’s Spencer Kornhaber explains:

“Humor, after all, can be an incredible weapon for social progress, but it can also be regressive: The more we pass off old stereotypes, rooted in hate, as normal — as MacFarlane did again and again (Sunday) night — the longer those stereotypes, and their ability to harm people, will be in place.”

These stereotypes that have become reinforced through Macfarlane’s comedic wit do nothing but harm the progress that women have made in every industry, not just those in film and television. Women have to work twice as hard as their male counterparts to get noticed in any career, and popular television shows and films that enforce negative stereotypes against women, people of different races, the LGBT community, and others just push the public perspective of these people back years. Children watch these shows and films thinking its ok to make jokes against these people, and it forces them into a regressive form of thinking. They begin to believe its ok to poke fun at certain groups of people, and do it because they think it is cool. Comedians are meant to make us laugh at the simple things, and those that poke fun at groups that struggle should not be rewarded and revered for their candor.

-Caroline Boyd

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Filed under Winter 2013

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