SHOCKING DEVELOPMENTS

As difficult as this may be to believe, I actually felt bad for Rush Limbaugh once. Once. A little less than ten years ago, he was hired by ESPN as an NFL commentator. If you don't remember this, don't feel bad. He had the job for all of about six weeks before the network fired him for comments he made about Eagles QB Donovan McNabb:

"Sorry to say this, I don't think he's been that good from the get-go," Limbaugh said. "I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."

Good to know Limbaugh knows as much about football as he does about anything else. (For the unaware, McNabb was great, especially when he was young. No, he never won a Super Bowl. Neither did Jim Kelly, Fran Tarkenton, Dan Marino, Dan Fouts, or any number of other "greats".)

ESPN initially backed Limbaugh.

Earlier, ESPN executive vice president Mark Shapiro came to the conservative Limbaugh's defense.

"This is not a politically motivated comment. This is a sports and media argument…We brought Rush in for no-holds-barred opinion. Early on, he has delivered."

In other words, they brought in Rush Limbaugh to do exactly what Rush Limbaugh is known for doing. He did it, and then they fired him. The ratings for their NFL show were flagging and they wanted someone to generate some interest in it again. They hired someone for the shock factor and told him to be shocking. My point is not that what he said is defensible; the point is, the network can't act surprised that they hired Rush Limbaugh and he proceeded to act like Rush Limbaugh. The guy is not an unknown quantity. So the issue is not really what he said per se, but why ESPN would hire him in the first place.

OK.

Hypothetically, if the Oscars hired a black bear to host the ceremony, who is to blame when it turns into a trainwreck? Is it the bear's fault, or would it be more logical to ask, "What kind of moron would hire a bear to host the Oscars?"

The world was deluged with "Seth McFarlane offended everyone on Earth and is a raging asshat" pieces today. He was highly offensive, crude, and not even particularly funny (note: if you're going to be incredibly offensive you have to at least be funny). I'm reading all of this and thinking, "What exactly did they expect when they hired Seth McFarlane?" His humor is offensive, crude, sexist, homophobic, and ever since the first Family Guy cancellation, not particularly funny. He proceeded to deliver a performance that was offensive, crude, sexist, homophobic, and not particularly funny. Shocking.

The many criticisms of McFarlane read like they could have been written two weeks ago, with the specific jokes added at the last minute. That makes perfect sense, since anyone with a functioning brain stem saw this coming a mile away: the gay jokes, the awful songs, the attempts to embarrass celebrities in the crudest possible way, the bathroom humor, all of it. So the issue is not McFarlane, as he merely did exactly what could have been expected of him in that situation. I mean, the guy is not going to go out there and do PG-rated Billy Crystal humor. If he tried that, it would probably be excruciating to see. It's not what he does. No, the issue is with the Academy. They hired him. What made them think that was a good idea?

It's so much easier to blame individuals than a faceless organization. The idea that they would hire McFarlane and he would somehow censor himself or deliver a highbrow or family-friendly performance – something he has never done in the history of ever – is an effort to deflect blame from where it belongs. The Academy and the TV networks paid for shock value, they got it, and it worked (look at the coverage the "controversy" generated). So while everyone's beating the dead horse and taking a whack at the asshole who was paid to be his asshole self and proceeded to be an asshole, the bigger issue – the judgment of people who have actual decision-making power – is ignored. Again.

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61 Responses to “SHOCKING DEVELOPMENTS”

  1. Major Kong Says:

    @sluggo

    Well, I always thought the Monty Python "Spanish Inquisition" sketch was pretty hilarious, so why is it OK to laugh at that but not at a Lincoln assassination joke?

    I mean, the Spanish Inquisition was pretty darn horrible, but it's OK to laugh because it happened further back in history?

  2. Brian Says:

    To complain about the tastelessness of jokes at the Oscars is akin to complaining about Beyonce too risque for the Superbowl.

    Just shut up and watch the unapologetically self-indulgent wealthy pat each other on the back in an extremely tasteful way.

    I will just sit here and be outraged by Beyonce's clothing while these cheerleaders dance me into the Go-Daddy commercial break.

  3. David Says:

    @ Dave Dell: THIS

    I would rather see the Oscars be more oriented toward film commentary— with the comedy and musical bits themselves being smart first and funny second. Maybe that would drive away other viewers though. I didn't catch the Oscars, but saw quite a few clips.

    Seth McFarlane is pretty hit and miss for me, and his material in this instance seemed a bit shrill/flat (at least from what I saw). Still, on a meta-humor (perhaps unintended?) level, seeing Seth poke holes the uptight, pretentious veneer of the Academy and its Big Important Event was kind of fun.

  4. sluggo Says:

    @ Kong

    1. Yes, time matters.
    2. If you say something offensive, it damn well better really funny. The Pythons get a lack more slack on those grounds.
    3. Offensive or not, the man just does not have a funny bone in his body.

  5. Arslan Says:

    Of all the things one can say about Seth MacFarlane, I can't say I have ever found him offensive, but I am aware that this is because I'm a white male and MacFarlane caters toward that demographic. It's really hard not to offend with humor, but the best humor attacks the powerful, the self-proclaimed "social betters."

    As for this song everyone is talking about if, for any reason, someone disagrees with the Salon piece, there still is the issue of it being 1.not funny, and 2. Ridiculously immature.

    If you want to see a show which has, at times, done banality very well, see Aqua Teen Hunger Force, particularly the so-called "Dickesode."

  6. unclemike Says:

    Sluggo: can we make a McKinley assassination joke? An Archduke Ferdinand assassination joke?

    I get that humor is subjective, and can be tasteless and offensive to some, while being hilarious to others. I thought MacFarlane did fine, more hits than misses (no, that is NOT a Lincoln assassination joke) others didn't like him, fine.

    But to say that some topics are forbidden humor-wise is just mind-numbingly short-sighted.

    Or, as Lenny Bruce said right after JFK was assassinated: "Vaughn Meader is fucked."

  7. jon Says:

    I think MacFarlane's stuff is hit-or-miss, but his competition at 3am is infomercials and SciFi Channel movies about cockroach/Rottweiler hybrids that endanger scantily-clad women. Sleep usually wins, but the half-awake me enjoys things until some better absurdity appears: Mighty Boosh, Venture Brothers, Morning Joe, you know, CRAZY SHIT.

  8. Pat Says:

    @Sluggo… you know what? No. I was going to be snarky about the difference between something 150 years ago and something 500 years ago and how "time matters," but I'm pretty sure you wouldn't get it.

    And I didn't mean to imply you have bad taste! You clearly have no taste at all.

  9. Pat Says:

    @unclemike: Ohhh, I see what you did there. And after I had pulled myself away from a line about MacFarlane's "killer material"! I feel cheated.

  10. Robert Says:

    I read this a while ago: "the second worst thing to happen to Seth McFarlane was family guy being cancelled. The worst thing was it being brought back."

  11. bb in GA Says:

    @Ed

    You can dislike el Rushbo for a lot of reasons, but your football assessment of him is off the mark a little.

    McNabb in his first four years (1999 – 2002) which is what Limbaugh was working with, McNabb had a points defense that was 22nd, 4th, 2nd, and 2nd in the league.

    Of the QBs you mentioned McNabb was comparable to Tarkenton while the other two, especially Marino exceeded him. significantly

    Tarkenton played for an expansion team that only broke 0.500 (8-5) in his fourth year ( I couldn't find team stats from that far back) and I'm sure had a great offensive line as well.

    //bb