Alright so I know I’m writing about a very popular show with many, many, many viewers. Yes, I was one of them as well; I enjoyed it and watched it frequently. However, I know this has been on my mind for quite a while and I have bored people with my opinions on this issue so now it’s time to grace all of you with it. I must say that this is not to persuade anyone to not watch Family Guy but instead shine light on an issue that can be seen in many areas and many tv shows, movies, songs, etc. This is mostly with the purpose to show that as individual one can make change even in small ways…that is how it all starts!
Now I know that Family Guy is a comedy based on satire (or it’s supposed to be). By definition, satire is, “The use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices”. Now I must say I love satire, it is much like my humor with sarcasm and I very much appreciate it. By the definition of satire, Family Guy gets away with all of its racist, sexist, homophobic, etc jokes. Because, hey, if its satire they do not believe those ideas, they are making fun of people who believe those ideas. And in most episodes it is clear that is what they are doing. For example, in the episode, Family Gay, same-sex marriage is discussed and the mayor is seen as deciding how to make the anger of the town away from him so he chooses a scapegoat and it happens to be same-sex marriage. This is satire…politicians choose scapegoats and this shows how stupid it looks. However satire is not always used in Family Guy, sometimes it just makes jokes for a few cheap laughs.
There have been plenty of rape jokes, in quite a few episodes so I will only choose two examples, both of which are just in the middle of an episode with no point but just to get a laugh form the viewers at home. The first comes in the episode, I Dream of Jesus, in which Peter is having a conversation with a waiter about a jukebox record:
Peter: Can I have that record? I love that song. I’ll let you have sex with my daughter…
Waiter: I don’t know…let’s see what your daughter looks like.
P: She’s…uhh…(pans past Meg to “hot” girl)…right there!
W: Ok, I’ll do her. But can you tell her to cry and beg me to stop?
P: I think that can be arranged.
Disturbing at best in my opinion. This in no way is satire, it does not make fun of people’s stupid beliefs…because someone wanting to rape a woman is not funny. There is no “belief” there; it is simply a way to make rape a joke. “Can you tell her to cry and beg me to stop” making rape a sexual activity as well and something that is desired. That was the purpose of the joke, and overall it is something not to be laughed at.
The second example comes in the episode, Stewie Loves Lois, it discusses Peter after he receives a prostate exam and he believes he has been raped. What is portrayed in this episode is the “stereotypical” reactions of victims or survivors of sexual assault and made into a joke. There is a scene, in which Peter is in the bathroom and starts cutting off his hair and begins to call himself a “whore” while looking in the mirror. This in no way is satire but the show decides to make a joke of what is thought a victim of sexual assault will feel like. Whether it is true or not, it in no way is funny to make fun of a survivor after a traumatic incident occurs.
Again these are only two examples but I believe even one is too many.
A couple of months ago, I stopped watching Family Guy. Was it easy? Definitely not. Do I miss it? Sometimes, there are nights when nothing else is on but then I remember why I stopped. Do I regret it? NOT AT ALL! It was my own decision to take a stand for something that I do not agree with, something that I see as wrong. By no means was it is easy, but I started slowly. First, I stopped watching episodes which contained rape jokes and then worked up to cutting it out completely. Do I believe that Family Guy producers miss me or even notice that I stopped watching? I highly doubt it. But what if more and more people joined in, then it becomes a movement.
As I said in the beginning this isn’t trying to persuade anyone to change their lifestyle or stop watching Family Guy but it is a way to say we all have power inside of us. All of us, as individuals, can choose to not go along with things we see that are not okay or things that make us uncomfortable. And if more people find that power and own it, it will become a movement of people screaming for rape jokes to end, screaming for the laughter to stop, screaming for change.
So I challenge all of you! It can be about anything and everything. I have also asked my friends to not say “that’s retarded” or “that’s so gay” and it has evolved slowly where they stopped and are asking others to do the same. This is change happening. What can you do? What makes you want to stand up and take action?
Please let me know what you are doing to create change, I will join you!