We had a much-needed little Front Range snowstorm yesterday. It was so peaceful and quiet–Sundays are usually pretty quiet days in Potterville, but with the snow swallowing all outdoor sounds, it was even quieter. I had a beef burgundy* in the oven, and we made a fire and watched a Harry Potter movie instead of the Academy Awards.
It turns out that it was a really excellent decision to shut out the rest of the world last night. I keep thinking about the old Monty Python skit about Australian wines: “this isn’t a wine for drinking! It’s a wine for lying down and avoiding.” (Don’t miss Linda Holmes’s review at NPR.) In the end, I think Amy Davidson’s analysis was the best I’ve read today:
Watching the Oscars last night meant sitting through a series of crudely sexist antics led by a scrubby, self-satisfied Seth MacFarlane. That would be tedious enough. But the evening’s misogyny involved a specific hostility to women in the workplace, which raises broader questions than whether the Academy can possibly get Tina Fey and Amy Poehler to host next year. It was unattractive and sour, and started with a number called “We Saw Your Boobs.”
“We Saw Your Boobs” was as a song-and-dance routine in which MacFarlane and some grinning guys named actresses in the audience and the movies in which their breasts were visible. That’s about it. What made it worse was that most of the movies mentioned, if not all (“Gia”), were pretty great—“Silkwood,” “Brokeback Mountain,” “Monster’s Ball,” “Monster,” “The Accused,” “Iris”—and not exactly teen-exploitation pictures. The women were not showing their bodies to amuse Seth MacFarlane but, rather, to do their job. Or did they just think they were doing serious work? You girls think you’re making art, the Academy, through MacFarlane, seemed to say, but all we—and the “we” was resolutely male—really see is that we got you to undress. The joke’s on you. At a moment when Sheryl Sandberg, the Facebook chief operating officer, talks about how women have to “lean in” in the workplace, Seth MacFarlane pops up from behind to say, “So we can see your boobs.”
. . . . .
The main misogynistic awfulness was centered on the workplace. There might have been a slight dread that MacFarlane would make a waterboarding joke, but he didn’t—maybe he felt that Senator Richard Burr, of North Carolina, had taken care of that at the Brennan hearings. But since so much of MacFarlane’s humor was rote and derivative, it’s more likely that he just stopped at the idea that “Zero Dark Thirty” was about “every woman’s innate ability to never ever let anything go.” That’s what it means when a woman in the office believes in something, and presses for it? There was a joke, too, about Jennifer Aniston not admitting having worked as an “exotic dancer”—and at that point MacFarlane had already more or less called Meryl Streep one. It’s possible that the line about not caring that he couldn’t understand a word that Penelope Cruz or Salma Hayek said because they were good to look at was directed as much at Latinos as at women, since he also mentioned Javier Bardem—but that doesn’t make it any better. What are women in Hollywood for? To judge from a few other MacFarlane jokes, they’re for dating men in Hollywood, until the men decide that they’re too old.
How old is that? Quvenzhané Wallis, who was nominated for best actress, is nine years old. “To give you an idea how young she is, it’ll be sixteen years before she’s too old for Clooney,” MacFarlane said. (And what is too young?) But the misogynistic low point involving Wallis was a tie between MacFarlane and the Onion. After a clip of her performance in “Beasts of the Southern Wild” played—in which she acted strong and independent and ready to yell back—she pumped her arms joyously. “Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a cunt, right?” the Onion tweeted. The line was deleted an hour later. But rather than being an aberration, it was of a piece with the evening. Act assertively, and we’ll put you down. (As with the Salma Hayek thing, there may have been a racial strain to this one, which only makes it more enraging.) And anyway, when you grow up, we’ll just want you to show your boobs.
Hollywood: where men no one wants to see naked (Seth McFarlane, for example!) make fun of women for doing one of the few things they’re permitted to do in Hollywood, which is to get naked on camera. Bonus points for sexualizing a child and calling her a c^nt, too! Like we say around the ranch: awesome!!!
*New secret ingredients: prunes and white wine! I didn’t want to start my car yesterday and so decided to make do with what I had on hand, and it turned out pretty great. Snow days are meant for braises and stews.