Although I have never been a huge fan of Seth MacFarlane's shows — the rat-a-tat, 10-jokes-a-minute animated humor has always struck me as a little too high on the "miss" end of the hit-miss equation — I found myself extremely impressed with his recent Playboy interview.
It wasn't just that MacFarlane took a big dump all over Fox News Channel, which is part of the same News Corp. empire that supports him. Frankly, as acts of defiance go, biting the hand that feeds you feels a little passe.
What stood out, rather, was both MacFarlane's well-reasoned defense of "liberal Hollywood" and his willingness to name names when asked, "Name five people who don't make you laugh."
To the latter, MacFarlane dutifully rattled off the following: "Rob Schneider. Rob Schneider again. Oh, Rainn Wilson — I'm sure he's a super nice guy, but he doesn't make me laugh. I'm sure Adam Sandler is still funny, but he doesn't do funny things anymore; it's that Eddie Murphy curse. … And 'Shrek,' not funny. The thing that drives me nuts about those Pixar movies, those DreamWorks CGI movies, is that they're gorgeous to look at, impressive beyond belief, but not incredibly nutritious. A lot of the jokes are obvious and kind of tired."
OK, I'd disagree with him about Pixar (find me a better movie this year than "Up"), but I'm pretty much in agreement with him on much of that list — and more than anything, impressed that he would brazenly violate the "Thou shalt not speak ill of others in the community" commandment. I suppose being wildly wealthy at a relatively young age (he's now 35) will do that for you, but the image of publicists squirming nervously is pretty irresistible.
As for that wealth, MacFarlane also tackled the notion that people in Hollywood are "out of touch," pointing out that he came from extremely modest means: "For years I lived in a shitty one-room apartment with no air-conditioning, barely able to pay my rent. Look at the Bushes. That's out of touch. It's also a very ill-thought-out label. Hollywood is not full of people who are wealthy because they were born that way. It's full of people who are wealthy because they did something people were interested in."
Bingo. Many conservative talking heads love to ridicule liberal celebrities, but beyond those born into the biz, many of those celebrities actually represent the kinds of self-made success stories that the right loves to champion — often speaking out, by the way, against their economic self-interest as members of the highest tax bracket.
MacFarlane also says that he can drink a lot of Jack Daniel's and still function reasonably well, which I used to be able to do when I was in my 30s.
So while I might not be the biggest supporter of "Family Guy" and "American Dad," let me be the first to recommend the full Playboy interview — to be slowly consumed while hoisting a Jack Daniel's in the producer's honor.