First Lady Michelle Obama's presentation of the award for Best Picture via satellite from the White House was viewed by some as inappropriate and politically-charged. The producers later revealed that the idea was conceived even prior to the 2012 Presidential Election, and would have invited Ann Romney if her husband had defeated President Barack Obama. Mrs. Obama is the first person without any prior association with Hollywood to present the award for Best Picture, as well as the first spouse of an American politician since Elizabeth Taylor.
Host Seth MacFarlane's repertoire was criticized by some viewers for being racist, antisemitic, homophobic and sexist (e.g. the song-and-dance tribute to female toplessness in cinema "We Saw Your Boobs"). Among the guests that evening, Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis were both extremely offended by MacFarlane's John Wilkes Booth joke, but had agreed beforehand not to make a big deal out of it. Jane Fonda, who co-presented Best Director, later expressed similar sentiments on her blog that much of MacFarlane's humor was inappropriate for general audiences. MacFarlane tweeted two days later saying he enjoyed the experience, but that he would not want to host again.
Prior to the ceremony, an estimated 400 visual effects artists staged a protest on Hollywood Boulevard. The artists were protesting what they perceived to be the mistreatment of their industry by the studio system. The event that sparked the protest occurred when Rhythm & Hues visual effects studio, whose work would win the Oscar for Life of Pi, filed for bankruptcy in the weeks before the Oscars. The visual effects industry was also upset when the winners for Best Visual Effects were drowned out by the Jaws theme music and had their microphones shut off during their acceptance speech right as they began speaking about the controversy.