I love award shows. The glamour, the glitz, the incessant “Who are you wearing??” to the “…and the Golden Globe/Grammy/Oscar goes to…” moments, clear to the follow up issue of People a few days later which rehashes the whole event. It’s a fun, mindless, guilty pleasure for me. Now that my daughter is old enough to have an interest, she watches with me for a bit (although she gets bored and begins designing her own dresses, as she is quite certain she can do a better job than most of the designs she sees on the red carpet). It’s fun. It’s drama-free for me, because I’m not in any way involved, nor do the outcomes have any impact on my reality.
This year, though, it’s a little different.
Several months ago, a friend of mine posted on my Facebook page that Seth MacFarlane would be hosting this year’s Oscars. My mind immediately started working (ok, I did pause for a HUGE eye roll…seriously, one of these days they’re just gonna get stuck back in my head…); first of all, what a seemingly odd choice for a host (compared to past hosts, anyway), and secondly, UGH!! This guy is relentless when it comes to abusing other people for laughs. Having a child with Down syndrome, I am acutely aware of those who poke fun at individuals like my son to generate obnoxious humor. This guy is a pro at it.
His weekly animated show has taken several hits at people with Down syndrome. It’s not even the use of the word “retarded”, it’s a blatant attack on those with Ds. What kind of mind do you have to have to come up with “humor” like that? I don’t get it. I never will.
After one of my frequent proclamations from my virtual soapbox (Facebook, in this case), a friend commented that although Mr MacFarlane does indeed make fun of people with Ds, he also makes fun of everyone else. He went on to say that at least he makes fun of everybody.
I wanted to bang my head on the table after reading that.
Sure, I understand (and appreciate!) my friend’s point. I shouldn’t take this type of thing so personally, because nobody is safe when it comes to the realms of this guy’s “humor”. But, what gets me is WHY we allow this guy to continue to make a living making fun of anyone, regardless of the reason why he chooses to make them his next victim?
We are all aware of the bullying epidemic among our youth; we have seminars to teach us how to handle a bully, we assign a particular color to wear to symbolize our stance against bullying, we try to teach our kids to be kind to one another. We cry at the violence and abuse that occurs when someone is bullied. We pray that it doesn’t happen to our own children, family, friends. But then, apparently, some of us sit down to watch some TV, and flip on one of Mr MacFarlane’s television shows or movies, and laugh as he shamelessly makes fun of the portrayals of innocent people. Does that make sense to anyone? Anyone??
What kind of message are we sending here, Mr MacFarlane? Are you so perfect that you can make millions by treating others so poorly? Wow, it must be nice to have that kind of perfection; however, if that’s the attitude that comes from it, I will gladly revel in my imperfections.
So, here I am, up on my soapbox yet again, feeling pretty lonely because so many people are gearing up to watch the Oscars. I refuse to do it. I won’t watch him. Until we can all agree that this type of insensitive humor is not funny, but so very hurtful, then people like Mr MacFarlane will continue to do it.
Think about a misbehaving toddler. Sure, it might be funny to see them tackle their older brother, but if we laugh at them, it only encourages that negative behavior, and somebody gets hurt. This is the exact same thing. This overgrown toddler has a bunch of people sitting around, watching and laughing at him, so he continues to do it, but at the expense of so many people.
And we reward him by putting him in the spotlight at the Oscars. Fantastic.
“Who cares?”, you might ask after reading this. “One person isn’t watching, but so many other people are.” Hopefully, some will read this and stop to think before watching the rest of the ceremony (you’ll find out who wins tomorrow in the news, and by now, we’ve all seen the gowns and diamonds). Maybe some will quit watching Mr MacFarlane’s lame attempt at humor every week. Maybe even some will join me on my soapbox and help shed some light on issues like this.
We can not expect bullying to go away, or awareness to rise, if we continue to reward “entertainers” like Seth MacFarlane. Shame on you, ABC, for choosing this host. Shame on all the advertisers that moved forward with their campaigns for the show. My kid will never stop being a target for cheap entertainment when we can’t be strong enough to take a stand.
Hey, it’s gotta start somewhere…