The Oscars Boob

I sort of feel a bit sorry for Seth MacFarlane. The poor love’s probably not had the nice week he was expecting after his little Academy Awards sing-song. Hosting the Oscars is a tough job, fraught with pressure and demanding skill. The temptation to reduce the whole lauded affair to a cheap joke is probably quite potent. Falling back on bathos in his clearly well-rehearsed Busby Berkeley style nod to breasts was possibly even a way of dealing with any latent feelings of inadequacy in the massively prestigious thing he’d been asked to do. Compound with the fact he has been propelled by his Family Guy success into a sort of alternative commentator on society, with probably more reach to the American public than the politicians themselves, a satirical guru who has earned his licence for irreverence and can say what he darn well likes. BUT BOOBS? REALLY??

Charlize Theron’s face summed it all up perfectly as her name was mentioned in the ditty; a disbelieving grimace directed to her date. I wonder if she felt her months of gruelling work creating the role of rape victim and murderer Eileen Wuornos would be so eminently dignified – years after her deserving Oscar win for Monster (for which her willingness to cast off her natural beauty to get fat and ‘ugly’ was more commented on than her spine-chilling performance) – by a cartoon-colouring chump in a suit.

In looking at the coverage on the official Oscars website, I noticed that the main feature was the red carpet pictorial. Who was the most glamorous? I also noticed (by noticed I mean dedicatedly checked by going through each one) that out of the 70 pictures in the red carpet gallery, 19 were of men, and 9 of those men had a woman standing next to them for good measure.

This may have been because all men were wearing exactly the same thing. Black tux, white shirt, black dickie, black shoes. DULLSVILLE. The Gentleman’s Club uniform may be barely worth snapping, but the gals weren’t afforded the same visual anonymity. One of the ‘main stories’ of the Oscars was Sally Field and Hilary Swank wearing the same dress. To my horror I saw it being debated: ‘who wore it better?’ Celebrity websites giggled about it; said that the women probably spent all night avoiding each other. What? I HOPE THEY STOOD TOGETHER AND HAD A RUDDY GOOD LAUGH ABOUT IT. I HOPE THEY HAD A COSMO AND GIGGLED WHILE SWANK DID IMPRESSIONS OF FORREST GUMP’S MUM. Why should they stand apart, while all the men mingled in the subtlest variations of the same suit?

It seems so ludicrous that the awards go to the female actors who play the hardest parts – the junkies, the victims, the sufferers of violence and madness – but that the Academy itself still encourages the vacuity of the surrounding pomp. They would suffer as a brand if they were to award vacuity in art, but would suffer equally if they were to phase out the glamour of the red carpet outside.

It makes you wonder: how can people like Seth MacFarlane blur the lines effectively, or even metaphorically pee over them, if the lines themselves aren’t even clear?

I have just one wish: that one year, just once, all the ladies of Hollywood get together in secret and decide to wear the same dress. The same simple black dress. Maybe ten years of doing that would make the difference.



  1. rteefufkin · March 4, 2013

    I watched the ‘Boobs’ song aghast, at first thinking it was deservedly going down like a lead balloon. In truth, the ‘reaction’ shots from Theron etc were pre-recorded, so they were in on the ‘joke’.

    This raises more questions for me than making me comfortable. The song was so crass and reductive that i suppose it was intended to be taken ironically: being part of a ‘flash forward’ to McFarlane’s biggest Oscar gaffe, it meant that it was one of those cop-out moments where an entertainer gets to have his ignorant cake and eat it.

    However, it just wasn’t funny. It didn’t serve to make enough of a satirical point to warrant the childish, arguably sexist, listing of the number of times actresses have had their breasts commited to celluloid. It failed to point out the coercion to show some flesh that many actresses have been subject to over the years; often an implicit ‘Well, if you won’t do it then we’ll get someone else who will’

    Maybe that wasn’t the point. Maybe it was just intended to be taken as what it so nakedly (har har!) was: a terrible, crass, stupid song. But one of the worst parts of it for me was the inclusion, for LAUGHS, of Scarlett Johansen’s hacked and leaked phone pictures. Using what must have been an upsetting and embarrassing personal incident to get a cheap giggle? Smooth.

    I’d like to know if any actresses raised any concerns. If anyone who was approached to do a pre-recorded ‘reaction’ actually said “This is sexist. And not funny. Even ironically. No thanks.” Because if not, then either I’m being a namby-pamby liberal, or the pressure for a woman in Hollywood to ‘do it. Or we’ll just get someone else who will’ is obviously still strong.

    • sadiehasler · March 4, 2013

      Interesting points! Yes, the pressure to just ‘stop moaning and join in’ must be so strong. Sigh.

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