June 12, 2013
PG: He’s the DysFUNctional Family Guy
I often wonder what comedic legends Lucille Ball and Carroll O’Connor and animators Walter Lantz and Charles Schulz would think if they were around to see the animated Fox TV series Family Guy. I bet they’d wonder how something so vile and disgusting could make it on the air.
Family Guy comes with a “14+ viewer discretion warning.” I think it should be “18+” — my young niece occasionally watches it and even though I know she doesn’t get a lot of the jokes, it makes me cringe to think of which ones she actually does get.
Peter Griffin, the patriarch in Family Guy, obviously is drawn to emulate Archie Bunker, the cantankerous, bigoted, blustery-yet-endearingly funny father from All in the Family, the popular 1970’s CBS comedy series.
Family Guy evens mocks the piano-playing opening theme of All in the Family. Archie Bunker was a little stubborn and set in his ways and he’d often butt heads with his black neighbor George Jefferson. In spite of all of their differences, Archie softened to George and the Jeffersons hit it big in the dry cleaning business and moved on up to a penthouse apartment in the sky in New York City.
The great comedic legend Red Skelton once said that it’s just too easy for a comedian to resort to potty humor. He refrained from going to the gutter for his material. Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, on the other hand, has made quite a lucrative career out of diving the cesspool of filth for his show’s shtick. In fact, his mind seems to thrive in the gutter. At least Peter Griffin’s does. Griffin is a vile redneck cartoon character with no sense of anything. His family is dysFUNctional, to put it mildly.
Now, granted, I will admit that I do laugh occasionally at some of the things that I’ve seen on Family Guy. Mostly the tongue-in-cheek, irreverent, smart-ass stuff that thumbs its nose at society and its stuffy traditions.
It does have some redeeming qualities. The show is certainly not bereft of imagination. In fact, it has plenty of it. Imagination, like fire, is a good servant but a bad master. Family Guy is a prime example of a sick, twisted imagination gone off on many offensive tangents. Peter Griffin is an equal opportunity offender. There’s no stone Family Guy has left unturned in its absurdity.
Is nothing taboo or sacred anymore? The only beef I have with Family Guy is that it is a cartoon and many parents automatically assume just because something is animated it MUST be for kids, right? Well, anyone who has seen South Park should know that this isn’t always the case but South Park didn’t occupy the early fringe time slots on local TV. Syndicated reruns of Family Guy does. It’s a cash cow.
We all have memories of the cartoons we enjoyed watching as kids. Sure, the “ACME” antics of the Looney Toons — Bugs, Daffy, Road Runner, Wile E., et al. were violent but there was never any overt sexual innuendo.
The FCC is asleep at the switch. At least a couple of past FCC Commissioners have left their posts to become lobbyists for the entertainment industry. Who’s guarding the hen house? The sly fox? Just who do they lobby? Well, the influential policy-making politicians, of course. Trouble is, many politicians get into congress to enrich themselves and the hell with their constituencies. To them, we say this: It’s public service, not self-service.
Congress ought to focus solely on what they were elected to do: serve the interests of the people in their district and try to do it in a selfless, compassionate way. Hands off the cookie jar. Got milk? It’s time for Family Guy. Don’t laugh too hard. The milk may leak out of your nose. Eeww. Gross!
Minnesota Senator Al Franken — a guy who has actually been on NBC in his role as Stuart Smalley on SNL — blasted the recently approved NBC-Comcast merger. Congress had to decide whether or not the proposed merger would benefit the nation. The FCC decided it somehow would and after voting for it, Commissioner Meredith Baker bolted to the newly formed NBC-Comcast in a lucrative deal that pays her far more than she made at the FCC. No conflict of interest there, though. Right? Wrong. Washington always sells its influence to the highest bidder and who pays the price? Well, John and Jane Q. Public, that’s who!
Defenders of Decency