So I get why some women were angry with MacFarlane, even though he wasn’t the author of most of the jokes. (Bruce Vilanch, a gay man, has been the head writer for the Oscars since 1989 and has won several Emmys for his writing.) MacFarlane was the messenger and the message from Hollywood isn’t always a good one for women.
Yet as Vilanch said in an interview with Salon, the show is scripted, every presenter has to sign off on whatever it is they say on-stage in advance of the ceremony so it can go up on the teleprompter. Women as well as men. The only impromptu moments are the speeches of the winners.
But in real life, outside of his Oscar hosting activities, MacFarlane has been a staunch supporter of women’s and LGBT rights and donated more than a quarter of a million dollars to the Democratic Party in support of liberal causes. In 2011, he was awarded the Humanist of the Year Award by Harvard University for “his extensive body of work, his active, passionate commitment to Humanist values, and his fearless support of equal marriage rights and other social justice issues.”
MacFarlane isn’t a Mel Gibson–Holocaust denier, racist, wife-beater. He’s one of the good guys. Were some of the jokes tasteless? Yes. Did MacFarlane repeat them anyway, even though he occasionally said throughout the telecast, “I thought we decided not to do that one.” Sure. But most of these jokes have been done on late night TV and nearly every day Huffington Post has another “actress reveals side-boob” video. This morning, after the Oscars, one of the lead pieces on Huffington Post was about Anne Hathaway’s nipples showing in her gown (which were actually just sewn-in darts, for the record) and Jennifer Lawrence showing “side boob.”
Maybe MacFarlane was just a messenger. And the message actually is coming from us. No wonder we’re upset.