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What to expect from Seth MacFarlane's debut outing as Oscar host

A year after Billy Crystal helmed the Oscars for approximately the 40 millionth time, hosting duties fall to “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane, who’s directed a grand total of one movie and had a minor role alongside Dwayne Johnson (and Crystal) in “Tooth Fairy.”

Of course, Crystal’s shtick was shockingly stale at the 2012 Academy Awards, and the sometimes-hilarious MacFarlane’s one movie happens to be “Ted,” the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all time. Considering MacFarlane’s limited movie history and longer record of controversy—recently, the guy made a Hitler joke while helping Emma Stone announce the Oscar nominees in January—it’s worth wondering what this talented showman and frequent button-pusher will bring to Hollywood’s Super Bowl. Read on for some informed speculation.

Condescension
During the nominations special, MacFarlane mocked nominees in the adapted screenplay category, saying they copied and pasted from Microsoft Word to script-writing program Final Draft. He said of the directorial nominees, “These are the five people who are the very best at sitting in a chair and watching other people make a movie,” a weird joke for a new director to make. His smug attitude could lead the reported atheist to bash supporters of the religious-themed “Life of Pi.” Another possibility: Noting that the duck named James Franco in “Ted” could do a better job of hosting the Oscars than the real James Franco.

Randomness
MacFarlane’s built his comic style/TV empire on non sequiturs, which could result in a monologue that jumps all over the place, from Quvenzhane Wallis of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” to an impression of William Wallace in the 1996 Best Picture winner, “Braveheart.” Though in the floundering randomness department, it always will be hard to top 1995 host David Letterman’s Uma/Oprah debacle.

Vocal tricks
There’s no denying MacFarlane’s got a gift for voices and impressions (he was good on “Saturday Night Live,” particularly as Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte), and you don’t get on the largest stage of your career just to leave your biggest trick up your sleeve. Jack Black commented that MacFarlane’s voices could grow tiresome at the Oscars, so it's safe to say MacFarlane will do a bunch of voices and then make a crack about Jack Black’s weight or something. MacFarlane, nominated for an Oscar this year for his theme song to “Ted,” also has an impressive singing voice (he was nominated for a 2012 Grammy in the Traditional Pop Vocal Album category) and will almost certainly sing during the Oscars ceremony—a practice Crystal pretty much drove into the ground.

Controversy
Though he’s spoken in favor of humanitarian causes including gay rights, MacFarlane also favors homophobic jokes—in addition to humor that seems to find fun in racism and anti-Semitism. Considering the multiple nominations for Quentin Tarantino’s look at slavery, “Django Unchained,” and the cliché stereotype about powerful Jewish people in Hollywood, this could get awkward/offensive.

Misogyny?
MacFarlane’s writing doesn’t exactly make great use of female characters, and we can only imagine what he’ll have to say about the significant female roles in movies such as “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and “Amour.” Hopefully whatever he says doesn’t intersect with his fondness for fart jokes.

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U

mpais@tribune.com

 

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