Dear Academy Awards Producers–
Did you think the name, “Academy Awards” sounded too generic or uninteresting, so you should “update” it to “The Oscars?” Are you now concerned that your rebranding campaign has only one major cultural reference point, that of the disastrous emceeing job by Seth MacFarlane? Did the new name of “Oscar” make you think that audiences wanted the ceremony to channel the sloppy mind of a chauvinist? Perhaps you forgot that Oscar from the show The Odd Couple wasn’t actually a complete asshole?
Did you really think that the “We Saw Your Boobs” musical number was funny or in any way original? Did a feeling resembling shame even darken your hearts when you asked actresses in the audience to pretend to be embarrassed or humiliated? Were those shots ahead of time any indication at all that maybe this was too offensive for an awards show meant to highlight the best moments of Hollywood in the previous year? Was there even one moment in rehearsal or the planning meetings in which you wondered if this would cross a line for viewers or the people who have given their lives to your industry? Or were you just so taken with the idea that rambunctious young men may tune into your show over Sunday night reruns? Did anyone dare to mention, if only at a whisper, while writing the lyrics to this number, that maybe including four rape scenes in the “boobs” lineup might not be in the best taste? Maybe only for the films that were based on real life rapes?
Was it William Shatner who phoned in to tell you that the public would be incensed by MacFarlane’s misogyny, anti-Semitism, anti-Hispanic racism, or pedophile-baiting jokes, or did he get the short straw to include him in the telecast as from the future, revealing the near-certain anger from the national audience? Was he the only actor in town who could pull off this cameo without vomiting? Did you think presenting the probable reaction would somehow get you off the hook? Were you surprised when people ran the fake headlines as real headlines on Monday morning, or was that part of your plan?
Did you vet the Quvenzhané Wallis joke with George Clooney beforehand, or was this comment by Seth some kind of revenge for never having appeared in an “Ocean’s” film? Was it solely Seth’s idea to toss a bottle of whiskey to Clooney during the ceremony, or did you think that alcohol would be an even better context for suggesting that Wallis was just about Clooney’s allowable age for dating partners? Speaking of young girls and old Hollywood power brokers, did you design the joke about Jack Nicholson’s house to refer to Roman Polanski’s rape of a 13-year-old, which happened at the same house, or was that just coinkidink? Did you feed the nasty C-word Tweet to staff at The Onion or was that just another happy dovetail of bad humor? Do you think we all wish you would have come out with your own apology for the nasty awards show that you produced?
When you all wrote the joke about Hispanic accents and attractive Latin bodies, were there only white non-Hispanic men in the room? Did you actively fantasize about Selma Hayek slapping the crap out of Seth, and would you have been ecstatic if that had occurred on live television? Did the line about Rihanna and Chris Brown come up after one of you remembered to include African Americans in the comedy set, since only two of them were nominated this year by your body of 94% white members? Did turning a problematic movie about slavery into a laugh about domestic violence make you feel giddy at your power to control images, narratives, and popular culture?
When Jennifer Lawrence tripped up the stairs to receive the highest honor in her profession for acting, did you hope to see her boobs? Were you angry that her after-the-ceremony interview was 1,000 times more interesting, down-to-earth, accessible, and hilarious than anything you staged during the 3.5 hours you had to captivate the country? Did it pique your curiosity in the slightest that the biggest rounds of applause during the event were for Shirley Bassey, Adele, Barbara Streisand, and Meryl Streep, four women you couldn’t include in Seth’s song and who have in their own right generated decades of interest and and fan followings not predicated on sloppy frat-boy antics?
Did you ever admit, even to yourselves when you’re all alone with nobody to guffaw at stupid off-color jokes, that you’re actually afraid to try hard enough to provide a quality show that doesn’t feel the need to offend entire classes of people in order to entertain a small segment of viewers?
Because that seems pretty clear to me.