Seth MacFarlane: Right choice for the Oscars

sethmacfarlaneBY TROY PHILLIPS

Admittedly, I wasn’t aware that Seth MacFarlane was going to host this Sunday’s Oscars until recently. Thursday morning, to be exact, when Scott asked me if I, the avid fan of Family Guy, had any thoughts on MacFarlane being the emcee for the most prestigious event in cinema.

So no, I don’t follow award shows very closely, but yes, I am very familiar with MacFarlane’s work and the standards that are expected at a formal, star-laden event such as the Oscars.

It doesn’t take an expert on both topics to know that MacFarlane was born to demolish moral precedents like Kim Kardashian does relationships (or a more poignant movie quip), and that alone will make the 2013 Oscars the most amusing award show in recent memory. Except, of course, if you happen to be a traditional order movie aficionado, in which case you have probably been angered frequently with the current state of the film world. For everyone else, MacFarlane should create enough intrigue to captivate a tiring viewership with plenty to spare. I’m just hoping that he’s able to get through the entire performance unscathed by a room full of ego driven celebrities.

One of the biggest knocks by critics on MacFarlane’s brainchild Family Guy has been his repeated pandering to an uncultured comedic audience with blatant uses of slapstick comedy and a multitude of scatterbrained cutaways that can appear to mask a lack of depth in the plot during episodes. South Park alone took two consecutive episodes to shine a light on Family Guy’s shortcomings, poking fun at MacFarlane’s use of random cutaways by showing manatees randomly selecting balls with names or places written on them that were then used as topics. Matt Parker and Trey Stone will always be the kings of raunchy satire, but MacFarlane’s comedy reaches above the common denominator with unappreciated frequency and isn’t as far behind the curve as the South Park guys may think. Just because it utilizes basic modes of humor doesn’t mean that there isn’t a deeper, more subtle level intrigue in most episodes of Family Guy. Just watch the side stories between Stewie and Brian play themselves out — there are plenty of satirical shots taken. The entire episode doesn’t have to be drawn out into a 20-minute allegory to be dignified and MacFarlane understands perfectly.

Look for Sunday night’s performance to combine both cornerstone elements of MacFarlane’s comedic style and, hopefully, a few new twists to keep the crowd on their toes. MacFarlane has already said that he isn’t well suited to host such an elegant event. Even if the statement was made in jest, MacFarlane was probably right.  I’ll be looking for the best of Brian Griffin, Ted, and Quagmire all rolled into one four-hour marathon. Oscar ratings have been in decline during recent years; we’ll see if the choice to include Seth MacFarlane this time around was an act of last resort desperation or brilliant foresight.

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