I had some time to kill yesterday afternoon and after reading the headlines/ skimming some articles about how much of a misogynistic ass Seth MacFarlane is, I thought, “Gee I should spend three hours watching this to see what all the hullabaloo is about, rather than anything truly productive!”
And watch I did. Let me begin by saying that it wasn’t as bad as I was anticipating. And by “bad”, I mean over-the-top sexist throughout the whole show. However, that does not negate the sexist shit that definitely went on. And let’s be honest here, regardless of who the host is, you’re gonna have some good ol’ sexism, racism, classism, etc. It’s kind of the Oscars’ thing.
While over-the-top sexism wasn’t as blatant as the show went on, it definitely started mind-blowingly sexist. Macfarlane began with a song called, “We Saw Your Boobs”, which listed several actresses and the films they were in, in which they are topless and indeed, boobs were seen. The song itself is fucked up, but just to add that MacFarlane pizzazz to it, he was sure to name several films in which boobs were shown specifically during a rape scene. But who the fuck cares about the context, cuz B0OBIeS1!!!!11!!!
I was disappointed to see a couple actresses had agreed to be a part of his shtick (clearly filmed earlier). When he would name the actress, the camera would zoom in on her looking ashamed/ embarrassed. To drive home the shame these actresses should feel, he names one actress as having never shown her breasts, and the camera pans to her and we see her congratulating herself.
The problems with this segment are obvious. The tone of the Oscars started appropriately; the female personality is simply a projection of her body and how it is portrayed or how much of it is shown. And from there on out, the qualities of the women, particularly the actresses, had everything to do with their physical appearance or their sexual relation to men.
While the internet went into a shitstorm regarding the Onion’s distasteful tweet regarding Quvenzhane Wallis (Roxane Gay and MaryAnn Johanson both aptly and differently deal with that), MacFarlane was sure to point out that she will be sexually unattractive to the likes of George Clooney in 16 years. HA! While Clooney’s proclivity for younger women was the obvious butt of that joke, identifying Wallis in these terms, perhaps unintentionally, inducts her into the realm of sexualization and objectification that comes with being a woman.
Moreover, every woman MacFarlane introduced was given the adjectives “beautiful”, “stunning”, “gorgeous”, etc, to describe them, and that was it. Whereas the male presenters he introduced were described as “talented” or given more of a proper introduction that did not rely on their physical attractiveness.
I am really just scratching the surface here as he was also blatantly anti-Jewish, homophobic, racist, and sexist some more (others are doing a better job of criticizing MacFarlane). But, some may wonder, why does all of this really matter? Well, the fact that the Oscars focus on women’s physical attractiveness rather than their actual presence lends to a larger cultural issue where a woman’s value is stored in how she looks or presents herself. (Just think about the mania around what the women wear, and god have mercy on them if they wear something ugly). Based on the fact that the Oscars are completely dominated by white males, this isn’t surprising. But women comprise more than half of the film industry’s consumers and would thus be more invested in watching the Oscars; and while watching, they would see men gawk at and judge the female attendees’ bodies.
Is it bad to compliment a woman’s attractiveness? No, not necessarily. But when that is all you compliment her on, whilst being sure to acknowledge and compliment the legitimate characteristics of men, then we have a serious problem. Where women are empty vessels and men are allowed much more depth, character, and ability.
To those who would argue that I’m being oversensitive, I encourage you to rewatch the Oscars, or watch just about anything. Think of how the woman is described; is her physical attractiveness (or lack thereof) mentioned at all? Is it the focal point of her description? And what about men? Surely, they too are described by their physicality, but is that truly all that they are depicted as offering? Is there more emphasis on the male’s personality traits? Just some food for thought.
Perhaps the most obvious sexism of the Oscars, or the industry itself, is the lack of women, in general. There were 39 winners Sunday night; 9 of whom were women. If that isn’t indicative of a larger problem to you, then shit, I don’t know what would be.