First, let me get something straight. I do not care for the Academy Awards or, for that matter, the entire Hollywood movie industry in general. Probably the best I can say about movie entertainment is that it is damn good for the economy while keeping a lot of people employed…and living in LA, well, that is nice.
I do go to the movies every now and then, though I am fairly certain my life would not be any different qualitatively if the industry disappeared tomorrow. I have nothing particularly against Hollywood yet nothing for it either; as they say, I have no dog in this fight. So much so I did not even know the academy award show was taking place this past Sunday. It is only because I went to the gym Sunday evening and found myself on my familiar elliptical and, son of a vondruke, there they were on the 8 inch pain-in-the-ass in-your-face screen in front of me. Noticing that Seth Macfarlane was hosting, I could not help but unplug my Ipod and listen to the opening monologue.
I watched as Macfarlane broke out into a song entitled, “We Saw Your Boobs.” For those living under a cultural rock, which is my preferred locale much of the time, he sang a song about actresses who have bared their breasts in movies -in a very 40’s esque bow tie and top hat kind of way. It was very funny and, of course as one would expect with Macfarlane hosting, very edgy. Mixing classy standards with contemporary raunch. Typical Seth.
I watched this bit, then a few jokes about Daniel Day Lewis’ method acting, George Clooney’s young girlfriends, then off I went. I had some weights that really needed to be lifted and some love handles that really needed some sculpting. The important stuff.
That was my entire affiliation with the Academy Awards in 2013. I do not even know who won what. Now….
Something has been on my mind ever since viewing these few minutes. I read this particular facebook status update yesterday and was reminded of my angst:
“Seth MacFarlane was funny. Admit it ya self righteous phonies.”
Of course her “friends” then chimed in with full agreement bemoaning the conservative and serious folk who found such humor either unfunny or inappropriate. I have had a couple of similar such conversations with some who, again, either believe you find the material funny, or else you’re a big fat stuffed shirt who takes life too seriously; a self-righteous phony. Yet, I myself, I am in tension over this. Even though it was funny as hell, was it appropriate for this particular context?
Could it be, that it I, Jimmy, am a big fat self righteous phony? (And why I am I ok with the self-righteous phony part, yet not the big and fat part?)
I love Seth Macfarlane. I love raunchy adult humor. I think Family Guy does not go far enough. For me it is never “too soon” for a good joke. YET, as we discuss in all my courses, it is all about the context. One could argue the context of the academy awards is fine place for such humor, however, one could equally argue, although funny, it is not the right context nor does it uphold the purpose and objectives of the event or the art it represents.
Have we as an American society conceded that it is always humor “game on,” of all varieties, all the time, in any place, in any context? Can we now yell “shit” in church or “fuck” in the Vatican? Is their no longer protocol for the place? The context?
I am not suggesting the Academy Awards is a bastion of high-brow dignity and an institution that is above making fun of itself or enjoying good humor because I really do not know what it is supposed to be. I am an outsider.
It just seems to me like it is a classy affair and, insofar as cultural powerbroking goes, a celebration of an important industry. If Hollywood wants to celebrate itself by singing a song about certain actresses who have shown their boobs on camera, so be it–at least they know how they want to celebrate and self-identify their awards show; even if it’s with a bit less class and dignity than some have come to expect.
Of course the awards have always been only deceptively dignified. When the infamous “streaker” ran across stage naked in 1974, it was the very classy David Niven who, in very gentlemanly fashion, commented on the streaker’s “shortcomings.” It was the classy and the dignified poking fun at the, probably planned, profane.
It seems now the classy has morphed into the profane and must profanely poke fun at itself. The host is now the streaker and we are all a bit less discerning in the contexts we find ourselves in. It’s “humor without boundaries” game on, always, all the time.
I guess I might just be a big fat self-righteous phony cause I kinda liked it when context meant something, when you couldn’t yell shit in church and had to relegate bad language to classrooms, bars and blogs–when a lighthearted song about actresses showing some titty on screen was either locker room talk, fair for an adult animated sitcom, or a purely comedic context.
But I can be weird that way….after all, I am Jimmy 5-0.