Meanwhile, back at the raunch

Academy aims low in selection of crass Oscars host

Hollywood struck crude years ago. Now, it’s going for a real gusher.

 

Seth MacFarlane, the King of Crude Cartoons, has been tapped as the next Oscars host – despite a rather thin résumé when it comes to either hosting or performing.

What’s the logic or goal here? To be as edgy as possible? To push the envelope and see how far it travels?

Be careful what you wish for. As condescendingly as movie elites look down their noses at ordinary Americans, particularly those with a traditional or conservative bent, the industry still depends on their ticket-buying.

It’s hard to imagine MacFarlane will go over well with Oscars viewers. His animated television series, Family Guy chief among them, and his jaw-droppingly lewd movie Ted have set new lows for raunchiness.

Is that what the Oscars are looking for? In a similar vein to the Golden Globes’ disastrous choice of ultra-offensive Ricky Gervais?

It’s the Academy’s business, of course. But the movies are an American icon, and they do set a tone for the culture, as does the Oscars telecast itself.

MacFarlane is a decidedly poor choice for that task. His productions have been rightly criticized for such things as mocking the insidiously painful Lou Gehrig’s disease and Sarah Palin’s child with Down syndrome. One episode of Family Guy took note of Florida’s epic struggle over the life of brain-damaged Terry Schiavo with “Terri Schiavo: The Musical,” in which the show’s characters sang lightheartedly about Ms. Schiavo’s “mashed potato brains.”

The Parents Television Council has repeatedly warned parents about the profanity, violence and nudity on Family Guy, an adult-themed cartoon inexplicably broadcast by Fox during prime time hours when children would be lured into the animation. The PTC has more than once classified the show as one of the “worst prime-time shows for family viewing,” and has filed complaints with the Federal Communications Commission.

The government in a free society, happily enough, is ill-equipped to arbitrate such matters. That chore is up to us. But it’s disconcerting, to say the least, that MacFarlane’s crass fare is not only a staple on television, but has now catapulted him to the same pedestal once populated by the likes of Bob Hope, Laurence Olivier, Jack Lemmon, Will Rogers and Douglas Fairbanks.

That right there tells you everything you need to know about the state of American culture.

 

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