Speaking of behavior in the public realm that can be perceived as ethnically offensive, many observers took note of comments made at Sunday night’s Academy Awards ceremony – which was televised worldwide – by host Seth McFarlane’s alter ego, “Ted” the bear. As described in an article in this issue, “Ted” made a number of statements during a comedic bit with actor Mark Wahlberg that portrayed Hollywood as dominated by Jews, and indicated that an actor has to act in a pro-Jewish / pro-Israel fashion in order to succeed within the film industry. According to some commentators, these provocative “jokes” made them feel uneasy, as they seemed to create an atmosphere of anti-Semitism at the annual event.
The Jewish Voice realizes that we might well appear to be hypocritical if we were to outright condemn McFarlane for his “Jew-targeting” humor. After all, we just stated in our previous editorial that Assemblyman Dov Hikind was essentially having innocent fun when he appeared in blackface at the Purim party in his home on Sunday. So if Hikind was merely being playful, and not intending to hurt anyone, why can’t the same be said for McFarlane?
The fact is, however, that there is a difference. Assemblyman Hikind has a proven record of friendship and solidarity with leading members of New York’s African-American community, and he is known as an outspoken defender of human rights. This was truly the first time Hikind committed such an “offense.”
On the other hand, McFarlane – through fictional episodes of his animated television hit “Family Guy” and other televised comments – has been known to take harsh potshots at the Jewish people. While he would surely defend himself as doing no more than “pushing the envelope” of comedy and creative license, the successful TV creator’s seemingly relentless comments about Jewish power make him appear to be an individual who harbors real resentment towards Jews for their success. McFarlane just can’t seem to resist needling our community, no matter how far beyond accepted public standards he goes.
The bottom line – it’s really all about the context of who is performing the action in question. In one of these two cases, it was a one-time overreach. In the other, it’s the same antagonistic remarks again and again. We believe Seth McFarlane needs to take a strong personal accounting regarding his attitude towards the Jewish people.