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Alexa Petersen | Jeminist: A Jumbo Feminist

Oscar 'Jokes'

Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 08:02

 

There were a lot of entertaining moments at the Academy Awards last Sunday. Jennifer Lawrence (shhh, just let me be obsessed with her) oh-so-gracefully took a little fall on her way to accept her Oscar for Best Actress and took it all in stride. When asked in post-Oscar interviews what was the process of getting ready for the event, she said, “I don’t know, I just woke up, tried on the dress and it fit ... and then I took a shower.” That’s an awesome person right there.

And then ... there were some not-so-entertaining parts. These all involved Seth MacFarlane, the event’s host, who indiscriminately offended almost every disenfranchised group of people he could think of with his “jokes.”

There are a whole lot of people who were certainly not laughing. Women were not laughing. When MacFarlane opened the show singing a song about the famous actresses in the room who had shown their breasts in movies in his oh-so-melodious “We Saw Your Boobs” montage, we weren’t laughing. According to MacFarlane, when actresses are naked it’s for viewers to ogle at, and when actors are naked it’s for “art.” We also weren’t laughing when he equated the story of a female CIA officer whohunted Osama Bin Laden for many years, as portrayed in “Zero Dark Thirty” (2012), as a sign of women’s inability to “never let anything go.” 

African-Americans were not laughing, especially when MacFarlane, referencing how Daniel Day-Lewis infamously remained in character as Abraham Lincoln off-camera, asked, “if you bumped into Don Cheadle on the studio lot, did you try to free him?” The brutal enslavement of blacks by white Americans for multiple centuries has never been and will never be funny. Never funny. 

Moving right along, Latinos were not laughing. They weren’t laughing when MacFarlane introduced Salma Hayek, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem and said, “we have no idea what they’re saying but we don’t care because they’re so attractive.” 

Jewish people were not laughing when the idiotic robot teddy bear from the MacFarlane-directed film “Ted” (2012), suggested that you can’t get anywhere in Hollywood unless you’re Jewish.

Those who have suffered from sexual violence weren’t laughing. Especially when MacFarlane referenced an orgy at Jack Nicholson’s house — which was likely a not-so-subtle allusion to when director Roman Polanski allegedly raped a 13-year-old girl at a home owned by Nicholson in 1977. They also weren’t laughing when McFarlane compared “Django Unchained” (2012) — about a man trying to get back his wife, a slave who has suffered brutal beatings — to the relationship of Chris Brown and Rihanna. Since when is sexual violence funny? I’m just confused about in what situation sexual violence is ever funny. 

LGBT people were not laughing when MacFarlane assured the audience that, don’t worry, he was not a part of the Los Angeles Gay Men’s Chorus that had just sung. Oh yes! We were so worried you were gay! And, to round out my list, those who suffer from eating disorders certainly did not think it was funny when MacFarlane’s accused the women in the room of throwing up a lot in order to fit into their dresses.

Here come the inevitable responses: “it’s all in good fun,” “we’re only joking,” “is there nothing left we can joke about anymore?” can each be used to deny that these jokes are actually offensive. But know that the only group left untouched by these jokes are Caucasian, straight, healthy, non-Jewish males, or, to be fair, the Caucasian, straight, healthy, non-Jewish males who don’t care about making fun of disenfranchised groups. So, really, the response should be: “are there no minorities left that we can still joke about?”

Because “it’s all in good fun” became “it’s all in good oppression,” and that’s just not cool. 

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Alexa Petersen is a senior majoring in political science and peace and justice studies. She can be reached at Alexa.Petersen@tufts.edu

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