"I'm not that big a fan of his," said Alan Arkin, a supporting-actor winner for "Little Miss Sunshine" who's nominated in the same category this time for "Argo." "I find him a little crude -- more crude than necessary."
MacFarlane gave a taste of things to come Jan. 10, when he became just the second Oscar host to join the nominations announcement (Charlton Heston was the first, for the 1972 show).
His early-morning shtick lasted just 10 minutes -- a fraction of the often interminable Oscar show itself -- but it brought a backlash from people wondering what sort of show might be expected from a guy whose chubby cartoon hero on "Family Guy" once was forced to strip off his shirt and moo like a cow while a woman pretended to milk his man-breasts.
The Hitler joke aside, critics said MacFarlane disparaged women with a comment that supporting-actress nominees no longer had to pretend they're attracted to Oscar kingpin Harvey Weinstein; belittled writers by saying adapted-screenplay contenders just cut-and-pasted from their source material; and slammed the directing picks as the "five people who are the very best at sitting in a chair watching other people make a movie."
Edgy or insulting?
Some feel it's just the jolt the stodgy Oscars need to get younger, hipper fans -- the key audience for Hollywood films -- to tune in.
"The Oscars still remain the pinnacle of artistic achievement in film, and I think it will always be that," said Jim Gianopulos, studio chairman at 20th Century Fox, whose Fox network airs "Family Guy" and MacFarlane's other animated series, "American Dad" and "The Cleveland Show."
"At the same time, I think it needs to be able to have a certain level of irreverence to be culturally relatable at this point, and I think Seth is the absolute perfect host to bring that."
Oscar producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron said there's no leash on MacFarlane -- they'll allow him to get as edgy as he wants.
"If we hire him and we don't let him say anything, then we're idiots," Zadan said. "Then why do we even go to him?"
"The question is always said, are the Oscars still relevant?" Meron said. "We believe the way we've put together the show this year, it's completely relevant, especially having Seth, who is kind of the voice of the current culture right now."
MacFarlane -- who provides the voice of F-bomb-dropping stuffed bear Ted along with "Family Guy" characters Peter, Stewie and Brian Griffin -- also is an Oscar nominee himself: best song, for a tune he co-wrote for "Ted."
"That's kind of cool. I got nominated," MacFarlane said on nominations morning. "I get to go to the Oscars."
Hope he likes the host.