Seth MacFarlane: What is Satire, and What is Stupid?

Many people are calling Seth MacFarlane’s take as the host of the Academy Awards satirical–they could be considered right, that perhaps MacFarlane’s take on satire falls under the Juvenalian umbrella.

1361836337_seth-macfarlane-oscars_1It makes sense–why do we have a four hour (sometimes more) televised ceremony honoring celebrities as if they cured cancer or rescued a small, impoverished village? Go ahead and make fun. Please, make fun. However, when your idea of satire includes a song called “We Saw Your Boobs” and most of the instances are taken from rape scenes and a non-film moment (Scarlett Johansson was referenced for her hacked cellphone photos in 2011–that’s a personal violation,) talking about how Zero Dark Thirty is a movie about a naggy woman (he claims that the film is evidence that “women never let anything go,”) and oversexualizing a nine-year-old for no apparent reason (he says, “to give you an idea of how young [Quvenzhané Wallis] is, in sixteen years, she’ll be too old for George Clooney.”) That’s when the kidding stops.




“Oh, he’s an equal-opportunity hater, he rags on everyone–haven’t you seen Family Guy or American Dad or The Cleveland Show?” I have, actually. I think those shows did start out as satirical, but in recent years, have become nothing more than a showcase for MacFarlane to see how much he can shock people. I remember the (very understandable) outrage from many blogs after the Family Guy episode “Quagmire’s Dad” aired. For those not familiar with the season eight “classic,” here’s a summary:




Playboy Quagmire reunites with his father Dan, a military pilot who reveals he is in town to undergo sex-reassignment surgery to become a woman named Ida. At first, Quagmire is accepting of his father’s new identity, but then finds himself uncomfortable after having dinner with Peter Griffin and family minus Brian, the family dog, who is out of town. Thus, Brian has no idea what 4599625026_fd5e048d38_ohas happened when he meets Ida at a hotel a bit later and a has a one night stand with her. The next day, he tells Peter and Lois about his exploits, sending them into hysterical laughter. Brian believes they are just jealous, until Stewie informs him that Ida used to be Dan. Brian then proceeds to vomit for thirty seconds. While Brian is feeling ill over his one night stand, Quagmire and Ida make amends, Ida announcing that she has met Brian, whom Quagmire despises. Quagmire then goes to the Griffin home, and beats the shit out of Brian, who responds with a tactful, “I fucked your dad.”



I cannot believe I just typed that whole above paragraph. That is something that actually aired on national television. Can someone explain to me how this is satire? How is this intelligent humor, again? This looks like something written by a fourteen-year-old-boy. I don’t see what the satire is–I don’t think the episode was making fun of transphobia, I think it was glorifying it given Brian’s physical reaction, and Quagmire’s attitude for most of the show.



Now here lies the issue: what is over sensitivity, and what is genuine satire? When LivLuna shared my post about Lisa Lampanelli and her take on the n-word on Facebook, one commenter was upset over the use of the word “comedienne” (they felt it implied that I was saying female comedians were lesser than their male counterparts) but had no problem accusing me of being hypersensitive because I was questioning a comedian’s choice of racial slur, that it was part of an act. But was Lampanelli really satirizing a word, or was she just being a jerk?




I know satire isn’t meant to be nice. Satire is meant to exaggerate the negative qualities of something. But when it comes to MacFarlane, he seems to cross the line from satirical to downright mean. It’s as if he’s saying, “huhuhuhuhuh, I’m a multi-millionaire overgrown teenage boy and since I’m the highest paid writer-producer in television history, I can say what I want!” I remember The Simpsons catching a lot of flack for their humor in the first few years it was on, but anything Bart and Homer did was nothing compared to the exploits of Peter and company. South Park most certainly has vile moments, but there’s at least some semblance of brains behind why characters poop out of their mouths or walk around with a ninja star in their eye for an entire episode.




I think I have to turn this over to you now, LivLunatics. Is Seth MacFarlane a brilliant satirist, and people are just being over sensitive, or is he just dumb? What is the line between satire and plain stupidity?

Celebrity, Women

BREAKING: Lena Dunham’s Body Type is Not Unique!

Oh, for Pete’s sake, we’ve already told you that Lena Dunham isn’t fat.  It’s common knowledge at this point that she’s always in some state of undress on Girls, which airs on HBO, where it’s practically a requirement for shows to have a fair amount of nudity. So why, why, why, is there repeated body snarking when it comes to this woman?

It seems the reason people are offended by her body this week is because of the most recent episode of Girls, where Dunham’s character Hannah finds herself spending the weekend with a sexy, older doctor played by Patrick Wilson where they have sex and play a game of topless ping pong. I thought the comments were bad when it was announced that Wilson would be guest starring on the show, but since the episode has aired, people have gotten totally vicious. My personal favorites of the comments are both from the comments section from Gawker’s episode recap. bobthelob had this to say:

“The most indicative episode yet of Lena Dunham’s disconnect with reality: that a handsome 42 year-old doctor would look at her twice, without vomiting. Her nakedness is over-the-top and gross, and now bordering on fetishism.”

Isn’t that just so charming? Now, while ParahSalin’s comment isn’t quite as nasty, it still managed to piss me off a great deal:

“I’m happy for Lena Dunham that she’s comfortable with her body, but I’m not comfortable with her body at all. Is she contractually bound to show me her body in every single episode?”

Oh wait…I see what the problem is now, bob and Parah aren’t necessarily upset that Dunham is running around naked on TV; they’re upset because Hollywood has taught us that women are supposed to look a particular way; and Dunham does not fit the mold. Dunham actually looks like most women I encounter on the street, the same women you probably encounter on your streets as well.

As I’ve said before, it shouldn’t be so shocking to see Dunham nude on TV–her body type is fairly common. You have probably seen women like her nude in real life, but since they aren’t on national television, perhaps it hasn’t registered with you that there’s something “weird” about it. Perhaps people are also throwing their insecurities onto not just Dunham, but people like Melissa McCarthy and Adele as well. We’ve been taught that women above a certain size aren’t meant to be acknowledged–so how dare Adele be a great singer that has the nerve to perform on live television, how dare Melissa McCarthy be a bankable movie/TV star, how dare Lena Dunham be in her twenties and accomplish more in her career now than most people have in their entire working lives!

Notice I also called out their talents–it isn’t just insecurities about body size that get thrown on these women, it’s insecurities about other things as well. It’s just easier to talk shit about appearance as that’s what people see first, especially as our society has such a rigid standard of what women are “supposed to” look like. I hope this is the last time I have to say this, but body snarking doesn’t accomplish anything. If you’re frustrated about your career, don’t talk shit, aspire to do the same or better than they do! You’ll feel more accomplished and better in the long run. Body snarking only makes you feel better for a few seconds.

tumblr_lq266ueCPW1qehk1qo1_400But while we’re on the subject, let me point out that for years, we’ve had to endure television shows where thin, conventionally gorgeous women are paired up with men who are considered slobs because they’re overweight and nothing negative has really been said about it. I know what you’re thinking–it’s mostly cartoons on Fox that do this.  It’s live television as well–Mark Addy and Jami Gertz were a couple on Still Standing for six seasons, we had nine years of Kevin James and Leah Remini on The King of Queens, and lest we forget where this whole thing started–Jackie Gleason and Audrey Meadows on The Honeymooners back in the fifties (although I’m sure if the show were on today, Meadows’ body type would be under fire the same way Dunham’s is) So why can’t we have pairings where someone like Dunham gets paired with someone “hot” like Wilson? It’s–gasp–common for women over a certain dress size to find a romantic partner, not just men!

I’m tired, LivLunatics. I’m tired of hearing the shit talk about Lena Dunham’s body, are you? Her body is not unique. When will Hollywood learn?