The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Tuesday derided as “offensive and not remotely funny” a sketch that appeared in Sunday’s Oscars ceremony, accusing it of upholding anti-Semitic canards.
The organization said it was “sad and disheartening” that the awards show sought to use age-old, anti-Jewish stereotypes for laughs, referencing the Oscars segment featuring Seth MacFarlane’s character “Ted,” in which the animated bear tells actor Mark Wahlberg that if “you want to work in this town” you have to be Jewish.
“For the insiders at the Oscars, this kind of joke is obviously not taken seriously. But when one considers the global audience of the Oscars — upwards of two billion people, including many who know little or nothing about Hollywood or the falsity of such Jewish stereotypes — there’s a much higher potential for the ‘Jews control Hollywood’ myth to be accepted as fact,” said ADL national director Abraham Foxman. “We wish that Mr. MacFarlane and the Academy Awards producers had shown greater sensitivity and decided against airing a sketch that so reinforces the age-old canard about Jewish control of the film industry.”
Hired by the Academy to add some irreverence and relative youth to the broadcast, the 39-year-old television writer McFarlane pushed buttons with jokes about women, gays, the Lincoln assassination, and Adele’s weight.
Also stretching the boundaries of political correctness was the segment featuring the stars of “Ted,” the monster 2012 hit written by McFarlane and starring Mark Wahlberg and a stuffed bear.
Like the characters on “Family Guy,” McFarlane’s long-running TV cartoon, the stuffed bear’s function is to make others squirm, with inappropriate, arguably hateful comments. His focus during the Oscars was on gaining acceptance in Hollywood — so he could attend an orgy after the ceremony — and his strategy was ingratiating himself to the industry’s Jews.
“You know what’s interesting? All those actors I just named are part Jewish,” the bear informed Wahlberg, after naming nominees Joaquin Phoenix, Alan Arkin, and Daniel Day-Lewis. (For the record, Arkin is Jewish on both sides of his family, and Phoenix and Day-Lewis have Jewish mothers.)
“Oh, okay,” Wahlberg responded, pretending to be a bit flustered.
“What about you? You’ve got a ‘berg’ on the end of your name. Are you Jewish?” continued the bear, voiced by McFarlane.
When Wahlberg clarified that he’s Catholic, the stuffed animal whispered, “Wrong answer. Try again.”
The segment then shifted into a series of claims by the character that he’s Jewish, including the news that he “was born Theodore Shapiro,” and that “I would like to donate money to Israel and continue to work in Hollywood forever. Thank you.”
The bear also boasted that he’d receive a private plane at “the next secret synagogue meeting.”
Re-tweeting a message from another website which asked him if he would be presenting the ceremony again, MacFarlane said on Tuesday: “No way. Lotta fun to have done it, though.”