Pop Machine: “Junk” won’t cut it


Video response fails to balance MacFarlane’s sexist anthem “We Saw Your Boobs”

Feb 27, 2013

[Trigger warning: contains discussion of images of sexual violence.]

A face-palm prompting pop culture moment as infamous as Seth MacFarlane’s Oscars song “We Saw Your Boobs” is bound to spark parodies, and on Feb. 25, Kevin Gisi made that a reality with “We Saw Your Junk.”

Beginning with a disclaimer reading, “To those who were offended by Seth MacFarlane’s ‘We Saw Your Boobs’ number at the Oscars I hope this helps!” viewers are asked to expect that what’s to come will somehow balance MacFarlane’s male gaze championing anthem that listed onscreen appearances of several actresses’ exposed breasts to 40.3 million viewers. The one thing Gisi’s song has going for it is that it goes after a subject in a position of more privilege than that tackled by MacFarlane, but what’s ultimately put forth is more of an apologist statement that is more of a trivialization of legitimate backlash MacFarlane received in the wake of hosting the Academy Awards.

Gisi’s song lists films in which actors’ naked penises are featured onscreen, but it ultimately fails to address the most offensive subtexts of “Boobs.”

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What’s not overt to all that watched MacFarlane’s number was that many of the moments referenced involved sexual violence, predation, and sexploitation. As Katie McDonough pointed out in an article for Salon, the breasts viewers glimpse in The Accused, Boys Don’t Cry, Monster, Monster’s Ball are shown in a rape scene, a medical examination following rape, a bathroom scene following a rape (in which the breasts are bruised), and a sex scene in which the line between consent and resistance isn’t clear and the character can be read as an object of white male sexual exotification of the black female (respectively). MacFarlane also referenced the real life privacy violation of Scarlett Johansson, in which nude photos from her phone were leaked to the Internet.

MacFarlane cemented the song as one big slut shame by glorifying actresses that have yet to bare their breasts on screen by including a clip of Jennifer Lawrence snapping her fingers from the crowd after it’s noted that we haven’t seen her naked bosoms on-screen. Gisi actually participates in the same activity when he notes several movies Ron Jeremy’s penis was not shown in on-screen, then goes on to sing “But that doesn’t make up for the porn.”

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Critics of MacFarlane’s detractors have pointed to the fact that many of the actresses featured in MacFarlane’s performance were in on the so-called “gag,” but that didn’t make it any less sexist; all this signals is a Hollywood widely insular to the systemic oppression of women.

To wit, satire, sarcasm, and gross-out postmodern pastiche has been MacFarlane’s comedic vehicle of choice across all of the creations he’s steered directly (Family Guy, The Cleveland Show, etc.), and it’s possible to concede he was aiming to start a discussion. But I’m not about to become a MacFarlane apologist. We’re at an embarrassing stage in our pop cultural history if we’re willing to accept misogynist, homophobic, racist, and otherwise oppressive statements or actions as “clever humour” when the source material is simply receiving an application of literal or metaphorical quotation marks. We need to stop being a party to that.

(Originally published Feb. 27, 2013 on The Ontarion)

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About Tom Beedham

Tom Beedham is a Canadian writer and photographer based in Toronto, Ontario. His work focuses on independent culture, DIY communities, and their relationship to the mainstream, reporting on a spectrum of creatives that has ranged from emerging acts to the definitive voices of cultural movements. In addition to contributing regular features to AUX, Chart Attack, and VICE publications Noisey and THUMP, he has appeared on Daily VICE, and frequently reviews concerts, festivals, and new album releases for Canadian arts and culture monthly Exclaim!. He is also a co-organizer and curator of the seasonal inter-arts series Long Winter, for which he oversees an online blog and print newspaper-style publication, printed for distribution at each instalment of the event. He was also a DIY concert organizer in his hometown Georgetown, Ontario in the mid-2000s.

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