Monday, May 28, 2007

My guilt over Family Guy


I admit it, I watch the show Family Guy. I blame all my guy friends from college. They watched the show and I began to watch right along with them. And I often laughed. I loved Stewie, the infant psychopath who always seemed to deliver monologues inspired by Dr. Evil,

Stewie: Well, Well mother we meet again.
Lois: Stewie I thought I tucked you in an hour ago.
Stewie: Not tightly enough it would seem, and now you contemptible harpy, I shall end your oppressive reign of matriarchal tyranny!


I loved his obsession with broccoli and the evil monkey that occupied Chris' closet. There ARE moments that I see and laugh at (like the clips below):





Family Guy operates on the assumption that you can make a joke out of everything, and therefore you can be offended by nothing. And absolutely nothing is off limits on Family Guy: AIDS, homosexuals, homelessness, pedophiles, handicapped people (either physically or mentally) and jokes about racism. So as a viewer we're never suppossed to be offended because Family Guy doesn't take anything seriously.

Okay fine. I get it. But the more I watch the show, the more uncomfortable I feel about my laughter. So many of the jokes on Family Guy are horribly misogynistic. Take this clip where we're supposed to laugh at Quagmire's "rape machine"



The more I thought about it, the more I realized that every single episode of Family Guy features violence against women, jokes at women's expense or some reinforcement of women's traditional gender roles. Family Guy's favorite joke seems to be mocking feminism in general.

Take the episode, "I am Peter Hear me Roar"-- where you get such quotes like.

Lois: I guarantee you a man made that commercial.
Peter: Of course a man made it. It's a commercial Lois, not a delicious thanksgiving dinner


I always told myself not to make a big deal out of Family Guy. Enjoy it for what its worth and try to ignore the parts that seem in bad taste. But in a recent episode I felt like the show really crossed a line. Watch this clip-- the joke is in the first minute or so... The punch line is "Everyone's getting laid but me." And I was horrified. Family Guy is taking it too far. If you keep watching you'll catch the obligatory joke made about women's professional sports.



More clips that offend.











As you can see, there are plenty of options. And several more that I can't find right now. There are plenty of people who have already criticized Family Guy for these problems. Here and here to start.

I feel like Family Guy has potential to be funny but I think jokes about rape are really out of line and maybe ONE episode without women bashing would be great. It's just getting old.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

You say The Family Guy portrays violence against women each episode, but you fail to mention that Peter gives men a bad name the entire episode (every episode).

HMMM.

P.S. Posts like these make your blog a joke.

Tobes said...

I thought it would go without saying that Peter's actions towards women (including his horrible treatment of his daughter) would show that he gives men a bad name.

Anonymous said...

Please Tobes why don't you publish some guidelines for comics about what topics won't offend. Not just what won't offend you personally, but what won't offend anyone.

I think you will find that most comedy would offend someone if they take offense easily.

If you ran the world would anyone laugh?

Tobes said...

Clearly you didn't read the post. I write that I laugh at Family Guy and that I get that it makes fun of EVERYTHING. Just there is some guilt at laughing at some of these jokes. Especially the ones that are in HORRIBLE taste.

Example:
TV anchorman Tom Tucker: Three young female co-eds were found raped and murdered
Peter: See everybody's getting laid but me.

Sorry. That isn't really a very funny or necessary joke.

I don't advocate censorship. Merely awareness. People should be questioning the stuff they see on TV. Especially if its done so much -- like anti-women jokes on family guy.

I don't need to defend my sense of humor to you, fortunately. But I think it goes without saying that I have one-- there are just certain things that don't make me laugh.

Tobes said...

I also defer to the wisdom from feministing.com

"making humor out of serious violent acts against women is just too necessary to take off the airwaves."

*note sarcasm*

Adrienne said...

I love Family Guy, even though there are a lot of jokes that make me cringe. But I've started to come to a realization about shows like this: South Park, for example. I feel like the show is trying to be political in such a way that is safe for the writers, producers, etc. I feel like everything that is said on Family Guy is SO ludicrous that it's kind of making a point-- like Peter saying 'everyone is getting laid but me' is SUCH an awful thing to say that it shocks viewers into kind of examining their own beliefs. My boyfriend, who could not be considered a feminist by any means, cringed and laughed at that joke, and shook his head and said, "that's not funny at all." I feel the same way about South Park. In the episode about Terri Schiavo everyone is arguing about 'playing God' and finally Stan yells, "No, you were playing God when you put her on the machine in the first place!"

That's why I like these jokes, even if they cross the line at some point. I actually kind of like it when Peter says something awful-- like the Thanksgiving dinner joke-- and I can then turn to my boyfriend , dad, brother, whomever, and say, "See? That's what YOU sound like when you say that shit."

Anonymous said...

But there's a difference between that South Park episode and the misogyny in Family Guy. The South Park incident wasn't really a joke...it was actual political commentary embedded in a comical cartoon. It was straightforward, made it's point, and what was said was probably what the writers truly believed. I hope to God the Family Guy writers don't believe in the commentary they make. For some people, I do believe that the sexist jokes in Family Guy are seen as purely absurd and people know that they are wrong and not to be taken seriously. But I can also picture a group of guys laughing outrageously and high-fiving over the rape machine, or the "getting laid" joke.

Now for the argument that Family Guy pokes fun at men too. Well, usually Peter is the protagonist, and the women in the show just try to get in his way. Also, I rarely see the women characters making fun at the men or even women making fun at other women. It is almost always MEN MAKING SEXIST JOKES OR ACTING VIOLENTLY TOWARDS WOMEN. When the men are poked fun at, it usually isn't about them being men. Women are put into abusive and violent imagery simply because they are men; the converse is never seen.

Deven said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Deven said...

Hey Great Blog. As much as Family guy used to rock in the first few seasons, it is getting down every season with same stale comedy and jokes. IMO Souht Park and SImpsons are also going down the hill.

Anyway for those who can not download Family guy from torrents and are looking for all Seasons of Family guy, they can download it from here -

http://www.mwolk.com/tv-shows/family-guy-season-1
http://www.mwolk.com/tv-shows/family-guy-season-2
http://www.mwolk.com/tv-shows/family-guy-season-3
http://www.mwolk.com/tv-shows/family-guy-season-4
http://www.mwolk.com/tv-shows/family-guy-season-5

Hope this helps others.
Cheers

Meredith said...

I found this post after I was searching for the Family Guy's ridiculous amount of rape jokes. I watched an episode tonight looking for a laugh and a distraction from finals, and as I'm sure you've noticed the show has gotten even worse.

There was a scene where Brian was talking about his "soul mate" and she had admitted that her father had "repeatedly violated her sexually", and Brian said "Oh, so you DO go all the way?" and I was just beyond words. I have issues with my boyfriend and his friends because I'm a sexual abuse survivor but they say "Rape" very casually and frequently in conversation, and when I told my boyfriend about the episode HE even said it was messed up.

Sarah said...

I completely agree with you and I can't beleive it took me so long to realize how horrible those "jokes" truly are. I think part of me, as well as many people, saw the humor as a rebuttal to the humorlessness of feminism, as well as a weariness of the idea that women had to disavow all aspects of traditional femininity in order to be empowered.

As a woman, and a smart woman at that, it just seemed too difficult to be a part of all the feminist anger that could sometimes veer into the nitpicky and excessive. Part of me wanted to join the boy's club, the fun side that found angry feminism irritating. I was able to laugh at jokes about women, because I thought of them as jokes about ideas, not actual actions.

But the truth is, I am not a member of the boy's club and I wouldn't want to join that particular club anyway. There is nothing honorable about that kind of humor, it is not only sexist but psychotic.

Furthermore, please don't apologize for being offended by sexism and expressing that anger. Black people are allowed to be offended by racism and you are allowed to be offended by sexism.

Are sexist jokes a "big deal"? Not in context, but in the larger context, yes they are a very big deal. If you want to undermine a group, you start with the little things, the fun things that seem innocuous, like sexy ads and sexist jokes. And then you bring out the big guns...

So rant away and tell all the people who say to lighten up that they can fuck off.

Meredith said...

I think there are some people who go too far with feminism and that's why some people mistake it for male bashing or male hatred. I agree with you that the jokes are part of a bigger picture. A lot of terrible things have been able to happen because of the dehumanization of any group.

It's funny that you said black people can be offended by racism because I am black AND a woman. LOL. I just hate how people find ways to justify sexist jokes but especially those that minimize or glorify sexual assault or using the word "rape" in a meaningless or even positive way because I think those are the same things sex offenders do to blame the victim or try to make it seem like what they did was ok (the cognitive distortions they have.) Like they say "We don't mean it like that" or "The word doesn't have a universal meaning" but it does to anybody with sense and so it's not funny.

Sarah said...

Yeah, I don't think people realize how short a leap it is from a joke to actual action. There's also so much pressure when people make jokes that other people laugh at to not "ruin the mood" by getting offended, especially when everyone is having a good time.

But just as an example, on my first date with my boyfriend, he made the comment "You're really funny... for a girl." I wasn't offended at the time or now, but since that date, I have gradually learned that he really is sexist. He's socially conservative (pro-life, etc.) and he likes to pay for everything, which is nice but he really does seem to be looking for a housewife.

I can deal with all of this because he's a good person and he's not a complete chauvanist or anything. I have, however, forbidden him from going to strip clubs like he did in college. He didn't know what the big deal was and said he and his friend used to hang out with strippers.

He recently told me that those same friends had also drugged and gang raped girls.

Long story short, I don't think its a coincedence that the stupid, slightly chauvanist joke he told on our first date should have led up to that revelation. It's all related. Also, feeling a lot of feminist rage these days...

Renee said...

When I first started watching the family guy I thought that it was harmless satire. It seemed so over the top, who could take it seriously. Then I zoned in on the rapist character Quagmire, there is nothing funny about drugging a woman and then having sex with her, that is RAPE. You cannot turn that into satire. That was the end of me and family guy. I also posted about this very same issue http://www.womanist-musings.com/2008/05/macfarlanes-babes.html

Meredith said...

I would be so upset if I were you. I feel like when people are friends with someone who would do something so awful or even condone it then they think it's right on some level or don't care about how serious the impact of their actions is on the victims.

There are some guys that have made me run screaming. I've been in abusive relationships in the past and now I've read up a lot on warning signs. But I've noticed some guys are just nasty and I have no idea how anybody tolerates them. Like a guy on facebook asked me to meet him a whole bunch of times so finally I did. He had a girlfriend and his profile had tons of pictures of them and he talked about how much he loved her and everything so I thought it was no big deal, until he told me he wanted to have sex with every black woman in the school. So I said "I'm just another girl to you?" and he said "A girl I want to stick my dick in. You should be honored." And then he was all over me and I had to run home because he wouldn't stop even after I kept telling him no. WTF?! I've started getting even messages like that as the first contact and it's disgusting. What is wrong with society that people think it's ok to do that- and that there are people desperate enough that they'd be like "Yeah ok!"

Meredith said...

Yeah, Quagmire is completely disgusting and makes me cringe. At first I could laugh at SOME of the stuff he did because I know people who are that nasty and perverted and obsessed with sex but the fact that he just rampantly rapes people and has no consequences probably further drives that belief into people's minds that it is ok or funny, if they already had that attitude.

I hate the pedophile the most, and the fact that it took Chris so long to notice that the guy was a pedophile.

Cola said...

Hey, Anonymous, why don't you go write a poem and attribute it to yourself?

John said...

I completely agree with this article. The violence to women and rape jokes aren't even funny. But you know somebody finds them funny, which is disturbing.

Okay, it gives men a bad reputation, sure, but people are still laughing at the expense of serious suffering. For instance, in a more recent family guy the joke was that a guy ignored domestic violence in the next apartment. The violence and the dialogue was very realistic and disturbing. And there wasn't even really a punch line.

Fuck you family guy for turning to shit, and fuck all the freaks who find that stuff funny.

-angry feminist male

That Fuzzy Bastard said...

I think you're sort of missing the point of the rape/violence jokes in the show, which is always to convey that Peter is a moron. When you get a joke like:

TV anchorman Tom Tucker: Three young female co-eds were found raped and murdered
Peter: See everybody's getting laid but me.

...the joke here is pretty clearly not "co-eds raped and murdered", which is the setup, but "everybody's getting laid but me", which is the punchline. That is, the joke is that Peter is so incredibly stupid that he thinks rape is "getting laid" (or that women should only make Thanksgiving dinners, or that he can swallow a thousand quarters, or any of the other antics that got him labeled "Petearded").

I do think that Family Guy sometimes gets too lazy with it's "oh no they didn't!"---sometimes they forget to add a punchline (though admittedly, that's often part of their comedy strategy, like with Peter's lengthy shin-bump in the Willy Wonka episode). And a lot of the time I find the basic premise a little smug---like, the audience is supposed to pat themselves on the back for being smarter than Peter, which is kind of lamely superior. But while they do lean rather heavily on the shock value of violence against women, I think it's pretty clearly there to indicate the awfulness of those committing the violence.

The argument that one simply shouldn't joke about violence against women in any way ever... Well, that's a different discussion, and one where I think you're going to get into some basic Lenny Bruce vs. Bill Cosby unresolvability.

Anonymous said...

Family Guy continues a tradition that dates back to AT LEAST "All in the Family" -- when Archie Bunker called Lionel a "spade," people laughed at Archie, not at Lionel. Lois is usually the "straight-man" of the series and usually comes off as sympathetic for her mounds of patience. Peter's ignorance is right out of the Archie Bunker playbook. It seems to say something about your own prejudices that you don't realize that the joke is on Archie.

Anonymous said...

!GREAT ARTICLE!

Fans seem to support the notion that the show is not misogynistic because male characters elicit laughs over sensitive issues like "not getting laid".

So, its funny and fair when the show's females are then "raped" and "murdered".

Not funny.

Anonymous said...

A) I'm a woman
B) I'm a woman who loves family guy
C) I'm NOT an Anti-Feminist, but I also would not consider myself an all out Feminist. I believe in equality just as much as the next person, but I'm not going to bitch about the fact that a man might make a higher wage than a woman makes in the same position.

Now, On to my Family Guy rant...

I was ten-years-old when I caught my first episode of family guy. It wasn't long after the show had first came out. I was too young to really understand the humor...(especially since the older episodes had an extremely sarcastic, intelligent form of humor). All I knew was that Stewie was badass and I loved him.

The summer that I turned 14, I went and visited by dad for a few weeks. My step-brother owned every Family Guy DVD. During my visit, I sat in my step-brothers’ room and watched EVERY single episode, laughing so hard my sides hurt. I started buying the Family Guy DVD’s and by December of that same year, I owned every single season.

Now, I am pushing 22 years old. I’ve continued to buy Family Guy DVD’s over the years and still, to this day, I own every single season that’s out on DVD (as well as “Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story” and “Family Guy: Blue Harvest”).

I put a Family Guy DVD in every single night before I go to bed and I fall asleep to the show. One of the reasons that Family Guy is my favorite comedies, is the simple fact that it’s flat out sexist. It’s offensive, wrong, inappropriate and absolutely hilarious and Seth MacFarlane is a genius.

Recently moving from the east coast to the drastic bible belt of Oklahoma City, I realized I have an extremely offensive sense of sarcastic humor. I don’t mean half of the things I say when I’m just goofing around and I feel like this characteristic has a lot to do with my love for Family Guy. If Seth MacFarlane was married (which he is not) I highly doubt that he would be going home every night to beat on his wife.

You HAVE GOT to take the humor on Family Guy with a grain of salt. I think it’s ridiculous that so many people make note of the constant sexism on the show but what about the racist jokes? What about the gay jokes? Does your opinion change when you learn that Seth MacFarlane is a passionate supporter of gay rights?

"…[it is] infuriating and idiotic that two [gay] partners have to go through this fucking dog and pony act when they stop at a hotel and the guy behind the counter says, 'You want one room or two?'…I'm incredibly passionate about my support for the gay community and what they're dealing with at this current point in time……Why is it that Johnny Spaghetti Stain in fucking Georgia can knock a woman up, legally be married to her, and then beat the shit out of her, but these two intelligent, sophisticated writers who have been together for 20 years can't get married?"
-Seth MacFarlane

-Brittany, 21, OKC

Anonymous said...

Hey, I've got an idea. Why don't you come out of the kitchen long enough to remove the dead Youtube-links on this blog?

Oh, and does your husband allow you to run a blog like this? I kinda doubt he would like it, so maybe you should ask his permission first.

Anonymous said...

Good article. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

For the argument of the joke being played on Peter all the time rather than the person the joke is pointed at. I find it quite ridiculous. Many people are not able to pick up on this style of humor and sadly enough, many people in my town look to Peter as a role model. And for those who do get this kind of humor figure it's okay to make sexist rape jokes cause it's so horrible they would never actually mean it.

Hypothetical sitch: A women is constantly the punch line of several sexual/sexist jokes by her co-workers. She gets offended, but feels like she is overreacting because they constantly say: "Oh it's okay we'd never actually mean it! It's just a joke from family guy. Settle the fuck down by going to the break room and making me a sandwich. BITCH!" Turning away in disgust the women hears the room fill with laughter behind her.

Unfortunately, this situation is not really hypothetical. I deal with these idiots everyday.

Anonymous said...

this is ridiculous the whole show is sexist against men as well, peter griffen is the stereotypical drunk man.

Anonymous said...

AS DR PHIL WOULD SAY "YOU ARE AN IDIOT" IM SURE YOU STILL WATCH THIS SHOW I STILL DO AND I STILL LMAO AT ALL THERE JOKES

Rodolphe said...

I work with a group of men who are avid fans of this show. They represent well its key audience: they are all Caucasian former fraternity members, who consider themselves to be cutting-edge connaisseurs of entertainment. They are also rabidly racist misogynes. . . not that they think so. They imagine themselves to be edgy intellectuals who oppose 'political-correctness' because it hinders "free speech." They don't bother, of course, to put themselves in the place of those who have historically been denied freedom of any kind, let alone the freedom to dehumanize others through "humor" at others' expense.
Fans of this show may tell themselves that they're laughing at satire but the ugly truth is that they're upholding the very old status quos of racism and misogyny in a 'new' time.

Anonymous said...

FFS if you have such a problem with it's jokes then don't watch it - simple.

Anonymous said...

Very old post, but I had to comment because tons of people on my campus watch Family Guy. I recently became very uncomfortable with it, especially after the episode about a transwoman. So its good to see that many people agree that these jokes are crap, and that there are men who find it dehumanizing also.

Anonymous said...

The problem with Family Guy is that it almost always targets marginalized groups in society. It's very easy, and not 'progressive' in any way, to make fun of groups with notoriously diminished sociopolitical power. I wonder how this show would fare in Family Guy writers decided to challenge the straight white male privilege of their target demographic, except that they won't....ever, because that would actually connote some 'edgy progress'.

metamorphstorm said...

I have to agree; a lot of the show is offensive. I can laugh at most of it and will probably catch every episode from here to my death, simply because it's fun - but as for the jokes? Most of them are kind of funny, but like 99% of them will offend. Women, homosexuals, other races and beliefs - the show could have been great if not for their need to attract attention through sick jokes. The writers should rely more on real wit than on people tuning in just to fuel their anti-Family Guy blogs (I'm not criticizing; I've posted plenty of similar blogs and posts myself!) because it seems that most of the show's current viewers only watch so they can turn around and say, "See what they just said to me?!"

:)