Did the Academy Just Apologize for Seth MacFarlane?

Slate's Culture Blog
Aug. 2 2013 12:31 PM

Did the Academy Just Apologize for Seth MacFarlane?

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Ellen DeGeneres

Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

As tweeted by Ellen DeGeneres: "It's official." The endearing comedian will host the 2014 Oscars ceremony. It will be her second go-round, following her previous performance at the 2007 Academy Awards. DeGeneres is probably one of the most affable, beloved personalities in Hollywood, on par with frequent awards emcee Neil Patrick Harris, so it's easy to see her return to the job as a safe move for the producers after the Seth MacFarlane-hosted show earlier this year sparked controversy about his arguably sexist routines.

Could this be an overcorrection, however? DeGeneres' initial turn helped draw in a greater audience than the previous year's ceremony, but reviews of her performance were decidedly mixed. (She did receive an Emmy nomination, for what it's worth.) Some considered her too tame for the big night, and to be sure, and going back to someone who has already hosted the show once without incident does seem like a conservative move on the Academy's part.

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In any case, she's about as far from MacFarlane as any comedian one can imagine. And she strikes me, all things considered, as a step up from the Family Guy creator. Public affection for DeGeneres has probably grown since 2007, and she's an even more seasoned performer now than she was then, so perhaps she'll improve on her previous performance. And the ceremony should, at least, be more watchable than last year's.

Aisha Harris is a Slate staff writer.