Wesley Morris Eviscerates Seth MacFarlane's Ted 2
June 25, 2015 2:26 PM   Subscribe

You never expect a movie to hurt you. Disappoint? Dismay? Depress? Fine. But when a movie has a field day asserting the humanity of a fake toy bear at the expense of your own, it hurts. I was led to believe, in part by the posters, that I was getting a movie about a character who’d be masturbating or urinating with his back to us. They should’ve turned Ted around since the emissions are aimed at the audience. - Dumber Than Your Average Bear

Mr. MacFarlane can be funny, but “Ted 2” is insultingly lazy hack work that is worth discussing primarily because of how he tries and fails to turn race, and specifically black men, into comedy fodder.... And this isn’t a question of political correctness, the default complaint of those who just want their critics to shut up. If anything, American comedies need to take on race more, to test boundaries and audiences alike. First, though, they have to grasp the differences between appropriation and engagement, and between comedy that supports the racist status quo and comedy that shreds it to pieces. Just sliming us doesn’t cut it. - Manohla Dargis's review is similarly scathing.
posted by beisny (74 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ted II "un-bear-able" say critics.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:36 PM on June 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


The creator of Family Guy made another horrible movie?

I love this line: "But MacFarlane...isn’t sophisticated or honest enough to unpack his sexual and racial fantasies and hangups. He just spews them."
posted by zzazazz at 2:42 PM on June 25, 2015 [14 favorites]


Saw the first Ted on a plane, it was fine, a few nice jokes here and there.

For some reason however, when I heard about the upcoming sequel the voice of art in my head screamed "Noooooooooooo! THIS.IS.NOT.GOOD!", what I want to know is - How did it know?
posted by Cosine at 2:43 PM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


I really liked Matt Singer's Screencrush review and found its criticism to be quite succinct, emphasis mine:
Ted’s attorney says that personhood can be measured by several characteristics, including self-awareness and “a capacity for empathy.” It’s in that last key point where Ted — and Ted 2 — comes up short, by couching the journey of an obnoxious misanthrope as a plucky underdog story. Ted mocks every minority, ethnicity, and sexual orientation under the sun, then gets upset when his own rights are stomped on.
posted by Ian A.T. at 2:44 PM on June 25, 2015 [17 favorites]


I gotta say, I was nonplussed when I saw Morgan Freeman was in this. I mean, we all have to pay bills, but, c'mon...I really do wonder if the reviewer's suggestion, that a redacted script was sent to Freeman, isn't true.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:51 PM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I had wanted to see this for a hot second because it was very much set in Boston, and I like seeing movies set there. Then that fist-bump with the black judge . . . ughhhh. Maybe he'll decide to give Neil DeGrasse Tyson another chunk of this money to do something decent with. That's the best we can hope for.
posted by Countess Elena at 2:55 PM on June 25, 2015


They really tore the stuffing out of that movie.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:04 PM on June 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


I... no, the people demand a Ted 3-Entourage 2 crossover movie next summer
posted by Bwithh at 3:07 PM on June 25, 2015 [15 favorites]


People with the last name MacFarlane are boring. True fact.
posted by clvrmnky at 3:10 PM on June 25, 2015


My wife and I were in a bar with a friend the other day, and I guess somehow she had gotten through life to that point blessedly unaware of the first Ted movie. So a commercial for the second one comes on and she's staring up at it, furrowing her brow in anger and confusion at what she was watching (the sound was off) and she says "So...it's about...he's a...TALKING BEAR?"

Bonus evisceration: Fuck This Bear
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:13 PM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


The reason Ted 2 is different than your typical shitty bro-comedy is that MacFarlane labels himself as a progressive or liberal and also that he's more intellectual than most of Hollywood but continues, more and more as he becomes more and more successful, to go for a different kind of "shocking" joke than he used to even in Family Guy's early days. You can't go to the "black dicks" joke so often without it pointing to some problematic shit.

Will Leitch's review is also very good, and it's ending is really accurate:

People defend MacFarlane by saying he’ll go anywhere for a joke, but that’s not true at all: The only place he goes for jokes is up his own ass. It’s increasingly obvious that he lives there.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:14 PM on June 25, 2015 [26 favorites]


When the first Ted came out, it was a topic of frequent conversation in my Fortune 100 corporate office when "the guys" would go out for lunch. Seeing and liking the movie seemed to be some kind of signalling that you were down with the raunchy, un-PC sort of humor only (privileged, post-frat) men can appreciate. For like a month straight all the talk was limited to either sports or Ted. I never saw the movie and don't follow any sports, so there was lots of awkward smiling on my part. Ugh that job was the worst.
posted by naju at 3:22 PM on June 25, 2015 [13 favorites]


I would love to read a good paper on Seth MacFarlane's impact on American comedy, because I feel like it's been profound. Not good, but immense. Family Guy is the first show I know of that went got renewed due to underground love, he works in a variety of media, and he often ropes in actors who are generally beloved, like Patrick Stewart.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:23 PM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Mr. MacFarlane can be funny

I don't normally ask a critic like Mr. Morris to show all their work, but this demands a footnoted proof in the appendix.
posted by Strange Interlude at 3:27 PM on June 25, 2015 [13 favorites]


Now that I think of it, I remember a coworker saying "You really understand Ted on another level if you're a guy in your 40s or older." I have no idea what that means though. Is there something to that remark, or is it basically just some kind of "marriage sucks haha" thing like I suspect.
posted by naju at 3:29 PM on June 25, 2015


Oh - so this is a sequel that that movie that ripped off Neil Swaab's Rehabilitating Mr. Wiggles? And it's not funny, either?

I'm shocked. Shocked!
posted by doctor tough love at 3:30 PM on June 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


TLDR: Rich guy continues to do what made him rich.
posted by Anoplura at 3:30 PM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Now that I think of it, I remember a coworker saying "You really understand Ted on another level if you're a guy in your 40s or older." I have no idea what that means though. Is there something to that remark, or is it basically just some kind of "marriage sucks haha" thing like I suspect.

I'm afraid it may be a kind of "silenced all my life" signaling thing. Just for extra yuck.
posted by The Bellman at 3:33 PM on June 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


> Is there something to that remark, or is it basically just some kind of "marriage sucks haha" thing like I suspect.

I think it means that you really understand Ted on another level if you're a douchebag.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:33 PM on June 25, 2015 [20 favorites]


I... no, the people demand a Ted 3-Entourage 2 crossover movie next summer

The Marky Mark Expanded Universe
posted by ActingTheGoat at 3:39 PM on June 25, 2015 [14 favorites]


The most depressing thing about seeing the first film was sitting there while the credits rolled on what was (to me at least) possibly the most entertaining film I'd seen in a while and thinking, "They're going to make a sequel, though. And it will be terrible."
posted by AdamCSnider at 3:45 PM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


> You really understand Ted on another level if you're a guy in your 40s or older."

Oh, I think your coworker was right. I'm a guy in my 40s or older and the trailer of the first "Ted", on its own, was enough to make me wish MacFarlane never got a job in the entertainment industry again.

I mean, it's rare that I claim to own any special insight or pithy shortcut to transcendent awareness about anything, but if somebody thinks my demographic has a special grasp on this particular issue, I'm willing to take my share of the credit.
posted by ardgedee at 3:45 PM on June 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


Of course, this means Armond White will declare it a masterpiece overlooked by everyone but him.

Just like Jonah Hex!
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 3:53 PM on June 25, 2015


I gotta say, I was nonplussed when I saw Morgan Freeman was in this.

Morgan Freeman's no stranger to doing things solely for the paycheck, though. If you look at his filmography you'll see that his truly great movies are outliers, even though those are the ones that people remember him for. In just the last two years, he's played basically the exact same role in Lucy, Transcendence, Now You See Me, and Oblivion -- none of those movies specifically needed Morgan Freeman in them, other than to lend an air of prestige to otherwise dull and/or dumb action thrillers.

He's by no means the only respected actor who works just for the sake of working: Look at Michael Caine or Samuel L. Jackson, who have each done their share of phoned-in stinkers with zero fucks given.
posted by Strange Interlude at 3:54 PM on June 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


I've said it before and I'll say it again: Wesley Morris is a national treasure.

It bums me out that he had to be subjected to this type of dreck.
posted by Existential Dread at 4:02 PM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Michael Caine on Jaws: The Revenge: "I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific."
posted by Auden at 4:08 PM on June 25, 2015 [56 favorites]


This last paragraph is powerful and affecting:

For people of color, some aspect of friendship with white people involves an awareness that you could be dropped through a trapdoor of racism at any moment, by a slip of the tongue, or at a campus party, or in a legislative campaign. But it’s not always anticipated. You don’t expect the young white man who’s been seated alongside you in a house of worship to take your life because you’re black. Nor do you expect that a movie about an obscene teddy bear would invoke a sexual stereotype forced upon you the way Kunta Kinte was forced to become “Toby.” MacFarlane goes a step further, daring to commit a defensive racial consecration along the way. When Ted and John lift the bedsheet over Tom Brady’s genitals, they’re bathed in the same golden light that shined from whatever’s in that briefcase in Pulp Fiction. Calling Brady’s junk holy would be funnier if this movie weren’t simultaneously implying that Cam Newton’s is scary.
posted by Existential Dread at 4:10 PM on June 25, 2015 [10 favorites]


More concrete evidence for when I tell people that Boston is the most racist city in America.

I mean god love em there are some decent folks too but on the whole the addiction to racial stereotypes here, even among many sane liberal adults, is just bonkers.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:13 PM on June 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


Any critic who finds an analogy between Seth MacFarlane and the Charleston Shooter is somebody I must follow.

Hey, Seth!! That haircut would look SO good on you!
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:20 PM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Michael Caine on Jaws: The Revenge: "I have never seen it, but by all accounts it is terrible. However, I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific."

Three disparate comments:

1. In the Flophouse episode on The Last Godfather, Al Madrigal relates how he was on set with Christian Slater in some hyper B-Movie and Slater told him, “Now, what we got here, Al, is a cash grab.”

2. British actors are, I believe, famous for cash grabs, with Ben Kingsley as the primary example. The charming thing about the Michael Caine line is that it completely owns the fact that he wanted the money. To own it is to make one realize there's not much wrong with it. (Although, if one thinks that Ted 2 is actively harming society, you might at least want someone to disown participation.

3. I kind of wonder if there's a race component here, with Morgan Freeman thought of as an exception to the cash grab rule because of his exceptionally crafted gravitas and his generally being the sole POC with a speaking role. (Does anyone else remember Chain Reaction? Wait, really? Why? Oh, okay, that makes sense.)
posted by Going To Maine at 4:49 PM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've been replaying Skyrim becaus eit's hot as balls right now and pretending to be in a cold environment helps, and every time I do that, I can't help but imagine being there in the booth with Joan Allen recording all her lines as Delphine, talking desperately about the magic behind dragons coming back, and high-elf conspiracies, and ancient warrior orders, and having to play all of it against no one, and then remember that, fuck it, she probably had fun.

Actors like to work.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:03 PM on June 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


I do remember reading an interview with some actor who'd Made It where he said that (paraphrasing here) no matter how rich and/or successful you get as an actor, part of you is still that guy waiting by the phone and praying for a callback from the cat food commercial you auditioned for.

If true, that explains a lot about Hollywood.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:09 PM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think there's also the same dynamic that you see with political figures - whatever the result, there's a certain crazy pleasure in the process. A lot of politicians love politicking, and even if the end is not achieved to their satisfaction, it was a hell of a ride. When I listen to commentary on DVDs, especially, and hear how much fun many of the actors have recounting how this scene happened, how working with other actors or the directors was (good and bad), I feel like a great many of them can walk away from a box office failure or a truly terrible film with more or less what they'd hoped to get out of it, i.e. a paycheck and a challenging, pleasurable experience doing what they do best.
posted by AdamCSnider at 5:17 PM on June 25, 2015


Yeah, I've always thought that if you enjoyed the people you were working with, making a terrible movie would be as much or more fun for the actors as making a great one.
posted by straight at 5:25 PM on June 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


In the pure “cash grab” films, your major actor knows that (s)he's slumming it. (S)he's doing a role that's going to be ignored in the US and make a bunch of bucks in the crappy foreign market. Ted 2 is a crappy movie, but it's not a Jaws 4 because the people involved don't know that they're making a stinker. Not realizing that you're doing something terrible can really increase job satisfaction.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:34 PM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


So glad I picked the Parker/Stone side of the Cartoon Wars. For all that South Park can still be dumb and problematic, it's at least still got a (wounded, angry) heart inside: I never felt that from McFarlane's works.
posted by Queen of Robots at 5:43 PM on June 25, 2015 [10 favorites]


Whenever I hear comedians complaining about how the world is just too PC and they're all so hamstrung, I wonder if they live in a world where Seth McFarlane doesn't have multiple shows on multiple networks both currently airing and heavily syndicated, a world where Daniel Tosh doesn't have a clip show AND a raunchy cartoon, a world where Adam Sandler doesn't have a multiple picture deal with Netflix with apparently no oversight, a world where Two And A Half Men lasted for over ten seasons and still airs regularly in syndication, a world where Trey Parker and Matt Stone (the best of this lot imho) don't have a hit broadway show and a cartoon that's been airing for two decades.

Hell, most of my favorite shows air during Adult Swim and I can't watch a full four hour block of the network where the discomfort of rape, the murder of sex workers, and any number of tired racial stereotypes aren't played for laughs, and it's not just during the Seth McFarlane shows either.
posted by elr at 6:14 PM on June 25, 2015 [37 favorites]


Those of us who live in Boston can at least be grateful that Ted indirectly gave us Keytar Bear - now playing at a T stop near you.
posted by adamg at 6:28 PM on June 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


I still can't believe they put the "Sam L. Jackson" joke in the TV commercial. It's an anti-ad.
posted by mullacc at 6:50 PM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wow, Ted 2 is completely terrible crap. I never, ever would have guessed.
*doesn't faint from shock*
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:08 PM on June 25, 2015




The NY times said "Ted 2” comes off as more inept and thoughtless". I think this is true of most of MacFarlane's work, IMO. The guy's just an asshole. Deal with it.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 7:32 PM on June 25, 2015


Seth McFarlane was born and raised in a part of Connecticut that wishes it wasn't next to New York. That means either Massachusetts or Rhode Island. His Boston accent is much better than his "Generic Rhode Island Accent", and this embarrasses him, as he has a BFA from RISD, which is the art-school equivalent of a comp-sci degree from MIT. Family Guy, if you live in RI, is an endless series of in-jokes that rival, yet cannot best, Don Bosquet.

"Well, then, fine. I'll get Donny Wahlberg to prove I'm more of a New Englander (born and raised as a nutmeggalo) than even the most Boston of Bostonians, who all live in The Dot, Lynn, Brockton or any number of "Gateway Cities" that are mostly gateways to grinding poverty. Actual Bostonians sound like they were born and raised in the northern Ohio River Valley."

(Digression! The local Texacos were bought out by Hess who were just now bought out by Speedway/Marathon. The nearest Hess had a bright, blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy who didn't believe he had any accent at all, despite being obviously from Cincy. This Hess had a COMMITTED roster of employees, all the same the four years I've been here, and they all knew every customer, and it had pumps and parking that were perpetually packed... popular place!

It was all up in the air, the local biker gang invaded their lot as the Hess signs were torn down, demanding an explanation, so the store was sort of kept on under threat of violence, but the green polo shirts were now black, and this STRANGER, from corporate, with a funny accent, man... let's give him the business!

I did my part. I know a Cincy accent when I hear one.

"Doot. That yas cawffee? Frumda Dunkies accrossa way?"

"Yes, sir. This is my coffee, from the doughnut shop opposite us. I was told it was good coffee."

"Yah, assrigh, you ain' drinkit tho?"

"No, sir! Haven't had the time! Would you like one of our new Rewards Cards?"

"Nah nah nah, don' cammeer dat offen. Lemme tell ya... did you, as fit as you obvs ahh, odah dat cawffee regulah?"

"Yes sir! Black coffee has proven health benefits!"

"Yeah I no. Take a sip. A biggun. I'll wait. I wants you to be helfy."

"What's wrong with it, sir?" He ain't dumb, just from Cincy.

"Extra cream, extra shoogah, shoogah!" says the 50-something woman in the flip-flops behind me. The kid just slumps, sinks, and snarls in his sort-of-southern-but-not accent, "Do they have fucking black coffee out here?"

"Oh, yeah. All yous godda do is owdah an Ice Tea."

"Unsweetin" nods the woman behind me.)

So, yes, most New Englanders are assholes. Seth chose to rise below the occasion.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:31 PM on June 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


Whenever I hear comedians complaining about how the world is just too PC and they're all so hamstrung, I wonder if they live in a world where Seth McFarlane doesn't have multiple shows on multiple networks both currently airing and heavily syndicated

Yeah, I've never had a taste for it. I mean, there is a lot of stuff I don't like, but this started slightly post-peak Simpsons, I was still in college, and a friend of mine kept telling me how intelligent it was because Stewie made references to WW2 or something.

The problem I always had was that it fronted like it was making this subtle, edgy humor; or being politically incorrect to stick it to the man. Except, it just wasn't. Like Television has always been racist sexist repetitive crap. Strawmen and stereotypes. Family Guy just embraced it and ripped off a couple of signature joke styles the Simpsons had in their golden era. Just the "oh no he didn't!" posturing of hackneyed, derivative schlock.

I remember seeing Mila Kunis interviewed about her role, and she started talking about what a meaningful important show it was, and how it was an honor to be the part of a punching bag for a bunch of mean-spirited clouts. In fact, I remember seeing glowing discussions of how Peter was just like Homer, but MEAN and how totally awesome that was.

Not to mention the terrible fucking animation.

I love me some cartoons, always have, I even remember the early cartoon network pilot-ish thing he did that was basically Peter and Brian. A smart dog, but no one could understand him but his idiot owner (and I remember liking the premise), but I just never understood why he got so many second chances with that shitty show, and then given the opportunity for another show, just made the exact same thing.
And then made the exact same thing again.

Also, note that he and Sandler have both made "western comedies" that involve pissing on Native Americans, are they competing or something?
posted by lkc at 9:01 PM on June 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


What sort of insane Jungian shadow puppet show is this anyway? A film that pretends white dudes are not the most privileged people in history by making the whitest bro dude in history a teddy bear? And then having black people defend his personhood like he was somehow oppressed?

I'm not sure the filmmaker even has the self-awareness to claim sentience.
posted by maxsparber at 9:08 PM on June 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


Internet craps on new MacFarlane stuff, everyone piles on; film at eleven.

That said, while I kind-of-liked the first Ted if only for Flash Gordon/Sam J. Jones scene, it was clearly an idea that barely had enough gas to finish (as usual with his stuff other than American Dad for quite some time - one good gag for every ten passable/bad ones), and a sequel is typical "movie made a lot of money; make sequel when stars available" Holywood line of thinking.
posted by lmfsilva at 9:16 PM on June 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


More concrete evidence for when I tell people that Boston is the most racist city in America.


Phoenix would like to point out how many times they've re-elected the most unabashed racist sheriff in the US.
posted by el io at 9:20 PM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think the worst aspect is that a whole generation of kids are probably growing up idolizing MacFarlane as a creative genius, alongside the likes of Bay and Eminem. And there's also all the $$$ that gets thrown at them.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 9:38 PM on June 25, 2015


I'd like to second the remark about New England's racism problem. One of the few times a racist remark that I heard in real life truly shocked me occurred when I visited Grandparents in Cape Cod; I won't repeat it here because man it was ugly. When my father moved to the Bay Area from Back East his cousin used to have to correct him when he'd make a joke or remark based on stereotypes that was considered acceptable in Mass but not in California. Keep in mind these are otherwise "sane, liberal people" (although my Grandparents voted for Barry Goldwater in 1964 because they correctly feared Johnson would escalate the war in Vietnam, make of that what you will). If you go on Wikipedia and look at the demographic info for a lot of towns on the Cape and the South Shore a lot of them are north of 90% white (can't remember the name but one was 98.5% white!).

So, to borrow a phrase from a writer whose most well-known novel is set in MA, this is the water Seth McFarlane swims in.
posted by DrAmerica at 10:18 PM on June 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think the worst aspect is that a whole generation of kids are probably growing up idolizing MacFarlane as a creative genius, alongside the likes of Bay and Eminem. And there's also all the $$$ that gets thrown at them.

This is sort of hilarious to me, especially when juxtaposed against the kicking against NPR listeners that (reasonably) occurred when they got snooty about Kim Kardashian showing up on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. There are immense differences between these two figures and these cases, but they are linked by the fact that MacFarlane and Kardashian are clearly very savvy business people who excel in their fields. I mean, it's fine & true to say that MacFarlane's humor is terrible & problematic, but it's not like he's bad at making jokes. (I've been overly affected by Let's Talk About Love, apparently.)
posted by Going To Maine at 10:29 PM on June 25, 2015


I'm not worried about the kids who grew up on McFarland thinking he's a genius. The nerds will find the quality stuff buried amidst the crap just like they did with Monty Python and Kids in the Hall and Mr. Show. There's a glut of good comedy right now. Edgy stuff, experimental stuff, sketch, animation, storytelling, radio plays. Hell, kids today have Welcome to Nightvale and Venture Bros.

It's a shame that there's nothing as widely popular as The Simpsons was in its heyday that isn't as high quality as The Simpsons was in it's heyday, but really nothing's that popular in this media landscape.
posted by elr at 10:34 PM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


"But Ted is anatomically ill-equipped to create one — or to provide adequate sexual pleasure, as Tami-Lynn might add in a Boston accent that has traveled the I-95 corridor from Queens. "

YOU MARRIED A FUCKING TEDDY BEAR WITH NO GENITALIA. WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:11 PM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


After Seth MacFarlane hosted the Oscars, I ended up in a Twitter fight with Slate's Troy Patterson wherein he extensively explained to me why it was sooooooo funny and I was being oversensitive about how disgusting MacFarlane's 'comedy' was to women because opinions can differ and PC and feminism and Lord knows. I can't help but wonder, is this explicit racism enough to make Patterson (whose column is called Gentleman Scholar, har har har) realize was a revolting, ignorant person Seth MacFarlane is?
posted by mostlymartha at 2:08 AM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


I kind of love it when a movie everyone expected to be slightly below-average turns out to be really awful. It spurs the reviewers on to write such excellent rants.
posted by harriet vane at 2:18 AM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


MacFarlane blocks anyone who tweets him about his transmisogyny. Fuck that guy.
posted by LindsayIrene at 4:31 AM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Getting mad that someone blocks you for calling them a transmisogynist is akin to GG getting mad that they get blocked for asking people about their "ethics". Maybe just get angry about the perceived transmisogyny and give him a pass on not being required to take people's calls.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:10 AM on June 26, 2015


The reason Ted 2 is different than your typical shitty bro-comedy is that MacFarlane labels himself as a progressive or liberal and also that he's more intellectual than most of Hollywood but continues, more and more as he becomes more and more successful, to go for a different kind of "shocking" joke than he used to even in Family Guy's early days.

This is such a good point and I really appreciate it. There are like three things I tend to hate about Seth MacFarlane's comedy:

1) Not only is it racist/misogynistic/homophobic/transphobic/problematic on every level, but he acts like he's winking at these issues and presents it so that like if I complain I'M the problem because I don't appreciate him standing up for me by making fun of me. Representation is not commentary, and something being commentary does not make it okay, but I think that Seth MacFarlane assumes that because he states that his motives are pure, his representation of all this problematic stuff becomes unassailable commentary. It does not.

2) It is often VERY LAZY COMEDY. I care a lot about comedy; I've done improv and sketch comedy and standup (the last one only once although I'd like to do it again). Comedy is one of the most important things to me because I find that life is often very hard and laughing is just about the best I ever feel so I laugh as much as I possibly can. Comedy is important to me. Seth MacFarlane's stuff is often obvious, overdone jokes directed at those with less social capital than he has. It pisses me off a whole bunch.

3) He went to my high school's rival and I hate them. They are smug and elitist. My high school was not without its issues, God knows, but I hate his high school too.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 5:41 AM on June 26, 2015 [12 favorites]


Getting mad that someone blocks you for calling them a transmisogynist is akin to GG getting mad that they get blocked for asking people about their "ethics".

I also don't think this is true; equating people being upset about transmisogyny and thus addressing a public figure who is actively producing transmisogynistic media with people who are harassing women for being women with opinions are not the same thing. I mean, sure, he's got the right to block whomever he wants, fine, but let's not act like these are the same thing.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 5:50 AM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


I also don't think this is true; equating people being upset about transmisogyny and thus addressing a public figure who is actively producing transmisogynistic media with people who are harassing women for being women with opinions are not the same thing. I mean, sure, he's got the right to block whomever he wants, fine, but let's not act like these are the same thing.

I certainly don't want to equate the real, life-disrupting harm that GG's prime targets have experienced with one guy getting called a transmisogynist by some number of folks after making a film that can be justifiably read as such. However, this is definitely a case of sauce for the goose being sauce for the gander. To get mad that you can't directly yell at somebody you don't know about something they did is pretty darn entitled.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:30 AM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


I blame Fox for this movie. When they cancelled King of the Hill and replaced it with MacFarlane's Cleveland Show they convinced him he was the funniest man on the planet. Now we all suffer.
posted by tommasz at 6:57 AM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


It is often VERY LAZY COMEDY.

Yes. McFarlane gets into the most trouble when he phones it in with cheap and easy laughs, usually by punching down.

The most brilliant parts of Family Guy are when the show goes way off the beaten path for a joke - the giant chicken brawl, for one. An entire episode that was a musical homage to the old Hope and Crosby road movies, starring a talking baby and a talking dog. Then there's a five second throwaway gag where Peter reveals he was once one of the Cavity Creeps, evil henchmen of sci-fi villains from a comic book advertisement for Crest toothpaste back in the '80s. That's one hell of a long way to go for a throwaway gag, and it was transcendent in its surreal comedy.

Then he'll go and sneer at someone for being fat, or a woman, because it's easy and he doesn't have the creative capacity to sustain what's truly funny and distinctive about his work, and displays an unfortunate nasty streak he hasn't learned to suppress or harness properly.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:00 AM on June 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


Seth McFarlane is brogressive. Once you accept that fact, most of his work makes sense. In fact, he may be, in many ways, the ur-brogressive.
posted by Hactar at 8:10 AM on June 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yes. McFarlane gets into the most trouble when he phones it in with cheap and easy laughs, usually by punching down.

And that's exactly the problem I have with MacFarlane. He's smart, he can be funny, and as a voice actor, he's pretty solid, and he does the only bits of singing I can tolerate on TV. But he lacks consistency, and tries to make up with that by punching below the belt as often as possible. There's also the question of how involved he is with the manatees tank in the show - he's certainly well aware of what goes on, considering he voices like half the main cast, and the rest of his work shares a lot of common ground, for good (the 80s/90s pop culture reference/mashups) and more usually, for bad.

But if you really need to see what would Family Guy look without truly any redeeming factors, try Brickleberry. Or, please don't.
posted by lmfsilva at 8:27 AM on June 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


It is often VERY LAZY COMEDY.

Sometimes he'll do the "goes on so long it's funny again" thing (which I think he originally ripped from the urination gag in Austin Powers) and you start to think he's actually just killing time. There's a bit in the old Goon Show where Minnie Bannister is walking up a staircase. It's long. After a while of the sound effects, Minnie says, "A man named Spike Milligan said I should take a long time going up these stairs. He said it helps him in his work."
posted by Trochanter at 8:31 AM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


No, you guys. He's just being ironic. The real joke is the hypocrisy of stereotyping Black people as dumb, lazy, and dangerous (especially to women) when these are the very characteristics of Seth MacFarlane's sense of humor.
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 8:40 AM on June 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, look, a somewhat positive review of Ted 2:

"No movie in which Mark Wahlberg and a talking teddy bear break into Tom Brady’s house and try to jack him off in his sleep in an attempt to harvest his sperm can be entirely bad."


O RLY?
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:02 AM on June 26, 2015


I gotta say, I was nonplussed when I saw Morgan Freeman was in this. I mean, we all have to pay bills, but, c'mon...

The man supports respectability politics and makes Woody Allen level relationship choices. Why would his career decisions be expected to be any better?

"But Ted is anatomically ill-equipped to create one — or to provide adequate sexual pleasure,"

YOU MARRIED A FUCKING TEDDY BEAR WITH NO GENITALIA. WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?


Genetalia is not a strict requirement for providing sexual pleasure, though I suspect Ted's hands and tongue being equally fur covered probably is a little problematic. At least without barrier methods and lube.
posted by phearlez at 12:27 PM on June 26, 2015


YOU MARRIED A FUCKING TEDDY BEAR WITH NO GENITALIA. WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?

Genetalia is not a strict requirement for providing sexual pleasure, though I suspect Ted's hands and tongue being equally fur covered probably is a little problematic. At least without barrier methods and lube.


There are harness and phallic shaped objects of various materials that apparently are able to provide a good deal of pleasure.
posted by Hactar at 1:28 PM on June 26, 2015


I'm not worried about the kids who grew up on McFarland thinking he's a genius. The nerds will find the quality stuff buried amidst the crap just like they did with Monty Python and Kids in the Hall and Mr. Show. There's a glut of good comedy right now. Edgy stuff, experimental stuff, sketch, animation, storytelling, radio plays. Hell, kids today have Welcome to Nightvale and Venture Bros.

Wtf? I Nerds are some kind of Rumpelstiltskin, Monty Python is full of crap and everything will be OK because we have Venture Brothers. The proportionality in that is mind boggling.
posted by Bistle at 12:54 AM on June 27, 2015


I'm not sure that a review whose last sentence is "We're all Kardashians now" can be said to be eviscerating in any sense other than seppuku.
posted by topynate at 9:20 PM on June 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


So MacFarlane tweeted "Celebrate the legalization of same-sex marriage by going to see Ted 2 as he fights for HIS rights!"

And it was apparently deleted soon after in response to... people finding it offensive? That's rich.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 9:33 PM on June 27, 2015


Stupid question: What exactly was the difference between the "large black penis" joke(s) in blazing saddles and the ones in this film? The latter review makes a distinction between the two, but I'm not clear on the difference.
posted by smidgen at 12:37 AM on June 28, 2015


This didn't exactly bomb this weekend, but hitting third place against two repeats and drawing in 32.9 million against the previous movie's 54 million is far from a victory. Wikipedia lists its production budget at 85 million, and HSX is forecasting it at 88. With the way that A Million Ways bombed last year, I think that a lot of the shine is coming off of McFarlane's brand (at least as a hollywood talent).
posted by codacorolla at 10:46 AM on June 28, 2015


The latter review makes a distinction between the two, but I'm not clear on the difference.

Forty years?

If nothing else, Blazing Saddles was actually making points about the treatment of black folks in America. Ted is using black folks as just a punchline.
posted by phearlez at 8:46 AM on June 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


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