More About Last Night

Joan Walsh writes about the reaction to Seth MacFarlane's Oscar hosting. One good point she makes is that MacFarlane probably did pretty much what the Academy expected of him…and with material that was approved and rehearsed and put on the official Academy TelePrompters. There's a tendency to think of the host of one of those things as the sole perpetrator of whatever he or she perpetrates. Not so…ever.

Ms. Walsh notes that there once was a time when we had a continuity of Oscar hosts; when you could expect that next year would be the same guy as this year. The change to what we have now has probably led most of them to go into it there with the sense that it's their one and only chance to host the Academy Awards so they'd better promote themselves all they can while they can. My notion of an ideal host is a guy who'd keep things moving and would keep the focus on the awards and their winners…but everyone would probably then view him as not making much of a contribution. That's why a lot of potential hosts wouldn't use Bob Hope or Johnny Carson as their role model. They'd use Ricky Gervais. I doubt Mr. MacFarlane is too troubled by the suggestion that he was too outrageous and offensive for Establishment Hollywood.

The premise behind picking him was apparently to attract young male viewers and I wonder how much impact the host can ever have about something like that. The star of the show last night, for instance, was never going to be its host. It was always going to be Argo and Lincoln and Anne Hathaway and the salute to James Bond and such. If you tune in for the host, you're going to be disappointed because most of the show is about the award for Outstanding Production Design and the host becomes largely irrelevant. Maybe what the Academy needs to do is to just get someone who can do a sharp, not-about-themselves monologue and then get out of the way. It also wouldn't hurt to have someone whose presence would lend an air of importance to the proceedings but I'm not sure who that might be in today's Hollywood. Maybe the Geico Lizard.