Can you remember one remarkable thing that occurred the last time
And that appears to be the point.
"Low key" was the catchphrase for her performance in 2007 when, under the eye of then-producer Laura Ziskin, DeGeneres introduced the ill-fated backstage "Thank You Cam" (designed to give winners a place to recite the laundry list of agents and execs other than from the onstage podium) and worked the wings to give viewers a "you are there" feel of what it's like to host the still-biggest show in town.
The show went almost four hours, but there were no blistering live-streaming blogs about Ellen's performance, no riled up reviews the next day. She was nice, she was mildly funny at times, she kept things moving and Martin Scorsese cleaned up. What more could you want?
Well, ratings, for one thing. Viewership for the 2007 telecast was one of the lowest in ratings history. Things have improved, but not much; MacFarlane was brought on board to draw a new generation of Oscar viewers, which he apparently did albeit while striring much internal and external ire.
At first glance, DeGeneres is MacFarlane's mirror opposite, light to his dark, gentle where he is stinging and, above all, nice. Nice, nice, nice. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, it would seem, is playing it safe, choosing a safeguard against controversy rather than kicking up a cultural revolution.
Which is pretty hilarious, when you consider that DeGeneres was the first female performer to out herself on national television, that she has long been a vocal proponent for gay rights, including and especially gay marriage, which made enormous gains in public opinion and the courts this year.
So in that sense, she is the perfect choice.
She is also far more popular than her reputation for kindness would indicate. As my colleague Meg James pointed out early this year, niceness is beginning to pay, for characters in scripted television and for Ellen DeGeneres.
In other words, what MacFarlane is to many young men, Ellen is to many young women. And as there are still more women than men in this country … well, you do the math.
Of course, the ratings of the Oscars invariably have more to do with the nominated films than the host and still months away from Oscar season, when studios roll out their awards hopefuls, it's hard to tell if any will catch hold with enough eyes and hearts to create a "Titanic" or even an
But her ill-fated turn on
Nice, and a revolutionary. But will she do a sendup of "We Saw Your Boobs?"
That alone is worth tuning in for.