Most of the criticism leveled at Seth MacFarlane, the Oscars host from left field, was focused on his negative comments on women, and deservedly so.
He cracked jokes that were sexist, juvenile and racist, including a strange bit based on the premise that Jews controlled Hollywood and that you had to be Jewish to find work in the entertainment industry.
What offended me about the “Jewish” routine – a brief conversation between MacFarlane, as the voice of Ted, his teddy bear character from the movie of the same name, and actor Mark Wahlberg — was that it had the subtlety of a blunt instrument. It just wasn’t funny.
In it, Ted noted at the outset that Alan Arkin, Joaquin Phoenix and Daniel Day-Lewis, seated in the audience, were all “part Jewish.”
“What about you?” he said to Wahlberg, “you’ve got a ‘berg,’ are you Jewish?
No, Wahlberg said, he was Catholic.
“Wrong answer, try again,” Ted stage whispered, then to the audience in full voice: “I am Jewish. I was born Theodore Shapiro. And I would like to donate money to Israel and to work in Hollywood forever. Thank you. I am Jewish.”
To which Wahlberg replied, “You’re an idiot.”
“We’ll see who’s an idiot when they give me a private plane at the next secret synagogue meeting,” Ted said.
End of routine.
It’s estimated that some two billion people witnessed this witless exchange, prompting the ADL to criticize the show sketch as “offensive and not remotely funny.” The good news is that the show was so long and, until the last few minutes, so dull, that most of those tuned in probably were either snoozing or taking a restroom break during the 50-second exchange.
Here’s hoping Tina Fey and Amy Poehler host next year.