Seth McFarlane & Misplaced Outrage
Last week, Seth McFarlane hosted the Oscars and we got very outraged about it. Seth McFarlane was Sexist! Insensitive! OMG! HE SANG ABOUT BOOBS! I Am Outraged. And I will Rant About This On Twitter Because That Changes Things. Ok. Hold up a sec.
Seth McFarlane is the reason Seth McFarlane was hired to host the Oscars.
Seth McFarlane is just the hired-hand. I'm pretty sure he wasn't the power broker. The Academy hired McFarlane to bring in younger viewers. And it worked. From what I read yesterday, viewership in the highly coveted 18-35 category was up 11%.
So, here's the thing: ranting about Seth McFarlane accomplishes nothing. Getting outraged about a comic is pretty much the punchline. Seth McFarlane is a comic. A comic. If I get mad at him, I become part of the joke.
McFarlane was hired because his humor is funny to dudes aged 18-35. Period. I mean, we can be offended all we want but the real problem is not Seth McFarlane.
Seth McFarlane's jokes were aimed at a generation of people who grew up in broken homes, whose idea of "family" is a cobbled-together assortment of friends: gamer buddies, Facebook "friends" and friends with benefits.
If Seth McFarlane is funny it's because the center of American life is no longer the church and family. The center of American life is pleasure and entertainment.
The real problem is not Seth McFarlane. The real problem is that we live in a culture of divorce, a culture of death, a culture that is increasingly utilitarian: if you don't serve some productive purpose, you are worthless.
So, if we're going to be outraged and offended, we need to closely examine the ways we all contribute to the problem. How do we practice sex? How do we treat marriage and family? Is sex primarily about pleasure and recreation? Are children and family optional side-effects?
How do we practice marriage? As a sacrament? As the foundational building block of stable society or as an outdated relic of bygone times?
If McFarlane was offensive, it was only because he was willing to expose to us our true, American values: that everyone does what is pleasing in their own eyes.
And that is no laughing matter.