Bob Hope was before our time. In fact, he was before the satellite-TV-live coverage days. He was even before the Doordarshan days! So not having seen him in action, I’ll settle for Billy Crystal as the best Oscar show host ever. In 2011, despite having the delectable Anne Hathway as his co-host, James Franco’s deadpan act had set the bar so low that I was convinced it couldn’t be lowered. Last night, Seth MacFarlane proved me horribly wrong. Apparently, there are depths and pits that are still unexplored!
“We saw your boobs!” MacFarlane sang to the ladies, naming them one by one as he pranced on the stage. Seriously, is this the depths we have sunk to in our humour quotient? Did none of the aforementioned ladies see fit to slap him across his smug face? Did the producers, the director, the audience see this as actually funny? Were they in splits? And most worrisome of all, is this the way we are headed?
Blaming it on the demographics of today’s movie going audience (over 30% teenagers or in their pre teens) only makes one lose what little hope there is. Seth MacFarlane is the highest paid comedy writer in the US today, and young Bilal, who has just entered his teens, thinks the man can do no wrong!
Have we lost it completely, I wonder? Is gutter humour the way of things to come? I have given up tying to get my kids to read Wodehouse – that they devour the likes of Chetan Bhagat only adds insult to injury!
The other day, another of my childhood icons `Reader’s Digest’ went under. There are no takers for that sort of thing anymore. Another chapter closed. No more Quotable Quotes, no more Laughter the Best Medicine, no more Humour in Uniform. No more Peter and Wilfred Funk to increase my Word Power (how thrilled I would be whenever I scored an `Excellent’ score – over 16 out of 20 correct!).
And where on earth has the uproariously funny MAD `What me worry?’ magazine disappeared? Its spoofs on Hollywood blockbusters were side splitting. Sample this. In the movie `Patton’, the general rips out a curvaceous blonde pin up from a soldier’s locker, and screams at him “Soldier – what would your mother think if she saw this?? Your old mother, who’s knitting socks for our soldiers, your old mother who’s praying for all of us – WHAT WOULD SHE THINK??” In the spoof, the soldier mumbles in response “But sir – this IS my mother!!”
Of course, the nature of humour is bound to change with time. The generation before us loved `Punch’. We grew up on Wodehouse, Art Buchwald (remember him?) and Alfred E Neuman of MAD.
Today, you have MacFarlane describing a 9 year old actress as being `16 years before she’s too old for George Clooney!’. The only actor, he goes on to say, to really get into Abraham Lincoln’s head was John Wilkes Booth! Not only bad humour, but in such pathetic taste that it makes you cringe rather than smile.
In the mid nineteenth century, the abolitionist John Brown was immortalised in the anthem “John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave, his soul's marching on." The anthem became a rallying point for the yankees during the Civil War.
Am posting a clip of the Opening Monologue of the 1955 Oscar show hosted by Bob Hope. Check it out for its zaniness and its sheer class. The complete show (5 parts in all) is available on Youtube, and makes for delightful viewing! This is what true legends are made of!
Watching Macfarlane last night, Bob Hope’s body must be `a-mouldering’ in his grave. Let’s make this OUR anthem and rallying point against the banality, gross bad taste and boorishness of the likes of Seth MacFarlane!