Did you hear the one about the Golden Globes getting the best of the Oscars?
Yeah, it kinda happened last night.
No, not the awards themselves—the Golden Globes will always remain a shadowy achievement, several notches below Oscar on the prestige factor (albeit a few steps up from a People’s Choice).
But at least the Golden Globes had the good sense to hire Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as hosts.
This was such a head-slapping, no-brainer of a decision, the Oscars had to reference it themselves last night. William Shatner, playing Captain Kirk as Oscar-critic of the future, remarked to host Seth MacFarlane that the MPAA could have saved themselves a huge headache by hiring Tina and Amy instead.
“They’ll host next year,” quipped MacFarlane in response.
And somewhere, the president (prime minister? lord?) of the Hollywood Foreign Press high-fived his nearest minion.
Because, of course, Tina and Amy couldn’t have hosted the Oscars. The Globes got there first.
A shame. They would’ve been perfect—hip, smart, comically adroit—just as they were on the January 13th Globes telecast. And what’s more, they very likely wouldn’t have said things that could be construed as misogynistic or insensitive, because they don’t traffic in that kind of humor.
They’re women, which means that just yelling “boobies!” in a crowed room is not funny to them. They’re too creative to go for the knee-jerk Kardashian joke; too smart to make an anti-Semitic crack; too decent to make jokes about a troubled pop star couple. We can trust their judgment as both comedians and human beings. Plus, they’re funny as hell.
MacFarlane, on the other hand, was just mediocre. His opening routine went on way too long; his jokes, much like Ryan Seacrest’s hair on the E! red carpet, got flatter as the show went on. And some of his comic impulses were just plain wrong. (I’ve always found MacFarlane to be cognitive dissonance in human form: He looks like an old school crooner but cracks jokes that would make Andrew Dice Clay blush).
In that sense, I suppose, MacFarlane is a perfect Oscar match—as the show itself has been going through a bit of an identity crisis in recent years. One year, it tries to go super young and edgy with James Franco and Anne Hathaway as hosts. When that (inevitably) bombs, it backtracks completely and goes with Old Man Crystal. (This is reminiscent, of course, of the Super Bowl halftime show. After Janet Jackson’s Wardrobe Malfunction, it took them nearly 10 years to put anyone under the age of 60 on that stage.)
MacFarlane, they thought, would split the difference—a perfect blend of old school and new. But you can’t have it both ways.
I’m not quite as offended by MacFarlane as many critics were. I thought he insulated himself fairly well with the “We Saw Your Boobs” schtick by getting the female actresses to play along. And his meta understanding of the fact that most people were going to say he bombed no matter what—because in the age of Twitter, no award-show host emerges unscathed—was pretty clever.
But then again: Tina and Amy did emerge unscathed from their hosting duties, thank you very much. Because when it comes to comedy, those two are Golden.
Photo of Fey and Poehler: TheAtlanticWire.com
Photo of Seth MacFarlane: Salon.com