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Will Oscar host Seth MacFarlane be asked back? Probably not.

Seth MacFarlane's Oscar hosting gig, full of low-brow and sexist jokes, received mixed reviews. The Academy struggles to reach a younger audience and remain a family-friendly show.

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"While we have come to expect inappropriate 'Jews control Hollywood' jokes from Seth MacFarlane, what he did at the Oscars was offensive and not remotely funny,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL national director, in a statement. “It only reinforces stereotypes which legitimize anti-Semitism. It is sad and disheartening that the Oscars awards show sought to use anti-Jewish stereotypes for laughs.

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Others argue that the flap around MacFarlane’s performance is exaggerated.

“Seth MacFarlane is getting a bad rap from critics who can't take a joke,” says Carole Lieberman, a Los Angeles-based psychiatrist who specializes in the media.

“He was risky, risqué and riotous,” she says via e-mail. And while he stepped a bit over the line, “he was a breath of fresh air to an otherwise safe awards show. The audience needed to sit back and relax and laugh at themselves and their colleagues a bit, instead of hiding behind their own press releases touting their perfection.”

Dr. Lieberman says MacFarlane won’t be asked back, because the Academy will “keep looking for an impossible combination of someone new who's funny enough, but doesn't offend anyone.”

Unless the Academy finds a younger audience, the telecast will become increasingly insignificant, says Susan Mackey-Kallis, a communications professor at Villanova University in Pennsylvania.

“Whether or not Seth MacFarlane is the answer to the Academy's dilemma about maintaining their older more traditional audience while capturing the hearts and minds of the younger generation remains to be seen,” she says via e-mail. What is certain, she adds, is that the days of the show being hosted by Billy Crystal, Whoopie Goldberg, “or fill in your favorite over-50 star – are long gone.”   

The Golden Globes’ hosting duo this year may be a better guide for the Academy, says Paul Levinson, media professor at Fordham University in New York.

“The Academy can appeal to younger audiences, with edgier content, while maintaining its broad demographic appeal as a family show,” he notes in an e-mail, adding that it’s a question, as always, of finding the right hosts.

“Certainly, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler accomplished that at the Golden Globes," he says.


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