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March 1, 2013

Benji Tunnell: Performance-filled Oscars night only so-so

JOPLIN, Mo. — The Academy Awards have finally wrapped up, just in time for next year's ceremony. Last year was pretty solid in terms of truly good movies, and with Sunday's annual self-congratulations finished, it is time to take a look at the good and bad moments from the show.

Host with the Most?

After averting a near-disaster last year when Eddie Murphy bailed and Billy Crystal stepped in, the Oscars decided to go risky again, tapping "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane to host. The question going in was, "How offensive will he be?"

The answer? Pretty darned. People were expecting a lot from a guy who has built a career off of pushing boundaries, but most probably weren't ready for him to go as far as he did.

After a joke about 9-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis' future as a love interest for George Clooney (Ha! Sexualizing children is funny!), he went on to make jokes about relationship abuse, Latino women only being there for looks and Jennifer Aniston being a stripper.

Arguments have been levied against MacFarlane for being sexist and misogynistic. I'm not prude by any means, but I certainly could see the point, especially after an opening number entitled "We Saw Your Boobs," in which MacFarlane and the Los Angeles Gay Men's Chorus sang about all of the actresses who have done nude scenes.

Especially unfortunate were some of the examples cited in which the nudity occurred in rape scenes. It seemed to be something that would have been perfectly appropriate for his day job, but felt horribly out of place on what is supposed to be Hollywood's grand night.

Trying something new

I traditionally avoid the pre-show red-carpet walk because it usually consists of the same question about who is wearing what. Likewise, I was wary of trying out the Oscars' iPad app because I find the encroachment of new media in such events to be annoying, but this year I gave both a shot.

The only thing I can tell about the red-carpet coverage, at least in the short time that I watched it, is that Kristen Chenoweth is short. I got this because she kept taking her shoes off and standing next to the stars and commenting on her petiteness. Multiple times.

As for the app, I turned it off initially when, while Anne Hathaway was being interviewed, it ran a scroll on the top that said "Anne Hathaway is being interviewed!"

I turned it back on during the actual ceremony just to see what it did. Mostly it was camera shots of the crowd and the backstage interview area. At one point a disembodied voice commented to someone about Samuel L. Jackson's red coat and pimp hat, so I suppose that was worth it.

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