Seth MacFarlane at the Oscars: He’s Just Not That Into You.

FIVE THôT columnist DEREK GORDON is a marketing and sales exec with more than 20 years success in integrated marketing and sales strategy and management. He is the Chief Marketing and Sales Officer for Pathbrite.

It is a generally accepted rule of marketing that it helps a lot to love your audience. At a minimum, it helps to at least like them. After all, in order to effectively connect with an audience there should be some empathy and affinity for it, if only to better understand their problems and how it is your product or service might address those. 

Apparently not all people think the way we marketers do.

At Sunday night’s Academy Awards, it was clear that host Seth MacFarlane not only didn’t love his audience, he didn’t much like it, either. By audience I’m referring to the people sitting in the newly rechristened Dolby Theatre. And also the audience that regularly shows up to the telecast who love film, and movie stars, and movie magic and the whole escapist mishegoss.

But based on his monologues and comedy bits, his real audience target seemed to be the young lads that stay away from the annual Oscar telecasts in droves. It was clear ABC was hoping dudes would flock to him and the Academy Awards based on their longstanding bromance with him and his work on “Family Guy.”

Throughout the broadcast, he wasted no opportunity to show just how little he likes the company of his fellow and sister actors. His jokes about gays, women and Jews in the business, and his singling out of stardom’s more colorful characters for particular abuse, says a lot about the esteem in which he holds the acting profession in general, and those not like him in particular. That he did it all with a devilishly handsome smirk did nothing to mask his unmistakable passive aggression.

The Oscars is a uniquely American spectacle that is first and foremost a celebration of Hollywood, its artistry and its machinery. Failing to celebrate any of that seems like a strategic oversight. I mean, you’re trying to win (or at least maintain) the hearts and minds of people who genuinely love the movies and everything that goes with that.

It was reminiscent of Mitt Romney’s campaign for President, wherein he regularly dismissed or alienated entire segments of the electorate, including women (half the population), Latinos, African Americans, immigrants, gays and people who live either on a coast or in a city. And singing “America the Beautiful” when, let’s face it, he should never sing into a live mic, just doesn’t help with the youth vote. That doesn’t leave too many people from which to draw a majority of voters. 

At least the Oscars telecast was filled with good music. Listening to the likes of Dame Shirley Bassey, Barbra Streisand, Adele, Jennifer Hudson, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles and even Seth MacFarlane himself (a real, honest-to-god song-and-dance man if ever I saw one) was the one saving grace of the night. It was only in those moments that it seemed Hollywood was getting its due.

While the Oscars ceremony is usually a marathon of television viewing, it’s mostly worth it. It’s scripted and predictable, but there’s always a moment or two that makes the whole night worth the effort. Mr. MacFarlane’s snarky, snide disdain for the people who are the whole point of the spectacle ground any joy out of even those precious few moments.

For those of us who love the broadcast – and I imagine for a large majority of folks actually at the ceremonies – it was clear the host just didn’t love us very much. The truth is, he doesn’t even really like us.

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