Imagine being a parent and watching your child be referred to as a sexual object in front of one billion people. How would you feel? What would you want to do? As a parent of 4 teenagers, I feel for Quvenzhane Wallis, the Oscar nominee, and her family. To avoid further hurting Quvenzhane, we will not print the inappropriate and cruel reference made during the Oscars by the host, Seth McFarlane (one of many by McFarlane).
Wouldn't it have been powerful to see at least one actor in the audience stand up at that moment and say,
"Seth, ENOUGH. She is 9 years-old. You are referring to a child as a sexual object. Whether in front of an audience of one person or one billion people, that is inappropriate. Your attempt to intentionally sexualize anyone here in such a manner is sad. Please apologize to her, the male actor you referenced, and everyone here. Stop trying to shock people through racist and sexist comments and switch to using appropriate humor."
Can you imagine what would have happened in the theatre and in homes around the world? I believe many in the audience would have supported the actor with the courage to speak out. The news and media outlets would have been talking about a moment when we witnessed a celebrity stand up to someone being cruel to others. We all would have had a great role modeling example to discuss with our children.
That moment never happened. In fact, more moments of sexist and racist comments continued throughout the broadcast (including trying to make a case of domestic violence into a funny one-liner). We all need to remember the Academy Awards CHOSE Seth McFarlane - knowing his reputation for this kind of attempt at satire. The Academy needs to be held accountable along with Seth McFarlane. You can call the Oscars at (310) 247-3000 or leave them an online message by clicking here.
For those who say, "That was satire," how come the jokes never accomplished what satire is meant to show? Satire would result in the audience getting the message of older adults sexual preying on young adults is wrong. That didn't happen. If it did, you might have seen celebrities speak up on behalf of the male actor referenced in the joke (who was unfairly targeted).
What CAN YOU DO? Talk with your family, friends, and colleagues about what Seth McFarlane did while hosting the Oscars. Sit down with your children and discuss this specific incident with the following questions:
- If you had a child, would you want to hear someone refer to your 9 year-old as a sexual object?
- Ask what kind of comments this situation could lead to the 9 year-old having to hear at school or on TV for the following days and weeks?
- What could someone in the audience have done?
- Be ready to share our example above of an audience member intervening and then say, "Do you think you would have stood up for the 9 year-old? What WOULD get you stand up for the 9 year-old?"
- Help give your child the tools to feel empowered and confident enough to stand up for someone in a public setting.
What tools do you think every parent should give their child to handle such a moment? What would you have said to Seth McFarlane? What would you say to the audience who failed to intervene? In addition to this example, what additional statements by Seth McFarlane during the Oscars should be addressed by parents?