Ellen DeGeneres Is Hosting the Oscars, and the Backlash Has Already Begun


Friday morning, the Academy announced that Ellen DeGeneres will return to the stage to host her second Academy Awards show. While the talk show host is adored throughout Hollywood for her likeable demeanour and brilliant comedy, many are calling the host selection a safe move. 

DeGeneres took to Twitter, posting:

DeGeneres made her first appearance in 2007 when she became the second woman (Whoopi Goldberg was the first) to single-handedly host the ceremony (not to mention the first openly gay or lesbian host). Her last performance, which reflected the star's typical jocula and relateable humor, was widely praised.

The only host to surpass DeGeneres' ratings since her 2007 debut is Seth MacFarlane, the creator behind Family Guy and the Blockbuster hit Ted. MacFarlane brought in 40.3 million viewers to surpass DeGeneres' 39.9 million viewers. 

MacFarlane's performance was true to his character: he was edgy, witty, and bitingly sarcastic, said the Los Angeles Times. As expected, the shameless and bold comedian made jabs at the celebrity audience. Last year at the Oscar's he even added his own musical skits into the mix, including the memorable "We Saw Your Boobs" number. 

Despite DeGeneres's favorable place in Hollywood, however, the tabloids are critical of the Academy's decision. The Los Angeles Times ran a piece with the headline, "Ellen DeGeneres to host Oscars; she's no Seth MacFarlane." It is true that DeGeneres is no MacFarlane; in fact, as Slate puts it, "she's about as far from MacFarlane as any comedian one can imagine." Tabloids are calling DeGeneres the safe and gentle option in contrast to MacFarlane who pushes the boundaries of comedy just about as far as one can. 

While DeGeneres may be the safe option, she is also a strong, humorous, and entertaining selection. Her selection suggests that the Academy is attempting to "return to a kinder, gentler Oscars hosting style" similar to that of Billy Crystal. DeGeneres probably won't cause fellow celebrity attendees to roll over in embarrassment, and her jokes will not make jaws drop. She will, however, be sure to provide the jokey, clever, and kind humor that we expect from the television host.  

The decision for DeGeneres to host also reflects the times; the announcement comes just days after Cheryl Boone, an African American woman, was elected as President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. In addition, following this summer's monumental advances in gay rights, it is only appropriate that a strong, successful and admired woman (who happens to be gay) be selected to be the face of this huge annual event. 

Ellen DeGeneres is certainly more reserved and conservative than MacFarlane and similar comedians in the field, but she is equally as entertaining; beyond her comedy, DeGeneres also symbolizes the acceptance, diversity and courage that the Academy and America at large should aim to represent.