- Criticism of Family Guy
The American animated sitcom Family Guy has been the target of numerous complaints concerning taste and indecency. Parents Television Council has expressed moral opposition to the series, and filed complaints with the Federal Communications Commission.
Criticism also originates from animators concerning quality and originality. While most attention has been given to the moral criticisms (e.g. crude and blue humor), stylistic content and thin storytelling with a loose plot and overuse of "cutaway sequences" have drawn criticism. The animated sitcoms South Park and The Simpsons have both satirized the show's writing and organization.
Controversies have arisen due to the show's use of jokes and satire. The "You Have AIDS" sequence, in which a barbershop quartet sings and dances around the bed of a man with end-stage AIDS about his diagnosis, drew protests from several AIDS service organizations. In his 2006 book The Decency Wars: The Campaign to Cleanse American Culture, author Frederick S. Lane described Family Guy as among several television sitcoms that premiered in the 1980s and 1990s he felt were "aimed at the darker side of family life".
Parents Television Council
PTC "Worst TV Show of the Week" awards Date Episode January 23, 2005* "And the Wiener Is..." May 8, 2005 "North by North Quahog" December 29, 2005 "The Father, the Son, and the Holy Fonz" January 19, 2006* "Brian Sings and Swings" February 9, 2006 "Patriot Games" August 17, 2006* "The Courtship of Stewie's Father" September 19, 2006 "Stewie Loves Lois" December 28, 2006 "Barely Legal" March 25, 2007 "No Meals on Wheels" June 29, 2007* "Stewie Loves Lois" August 10, 2007* "Deep Throats"
"You May Now Kiss the...Uh...Guy Who Receives"
"Bill and Peter's Bogus Journey"
November 22, 2007 "Padre de Familia" January 25, 2008 "McStroke" May 2, 2008 "Former Life of Brian" September 21, 2008* "Blue Harvest" March 8, 2009 "Family Gay" May 15, 2009 "Three Kings" June 12, 2009* "420" August 23, 2009* "Stew-Roids" October 9, 2009 "Family Goy" November 13, 2009 "Seth & Alex's Almost Live Comedy Show" February 5, 2010 "Dial Meg for Murder" February 26, 2010 "Extra Large Medium" March 19, 2010 "Go Stewie Go" May 7, 2010 "Brian and Stewie" May 14, 2010 "Quagmire's Dad" December 17, 2010 "Road to the North Pole" January 21, 2011 "And I'm Joyce Kinney" June 17, 2011* "Friends of Peter G." September 2, 2011* "The Hand That Rocks the Wheelchair" * report based on a repeat broadcast of an episode
The Parents Television Council, a non-profit watchdog group, has published critical views of Family Guy. In May 2000, in its weekly "E-Alert" email newsletter, the PTC launched a letter-writing campaign to the Fox network to persuade the network to cancel Family Guy following a return from a long hiatus in the show's second season, due to what the PTC claimed were "strong advertiser resistance and low ratings".
Family Guy made the PTC's 2000, 2005, and 2006 lists of "worst prime-time shows for family viewing", with over thirty Family Guy episodes having been chosen as "Worst TV Show[s] of the Week" for reasons of profanity, animated nudity and violence. The Council has cautioned parents that children will be attracted by the show because of its animated format while asserting that the series is suitable only for adults. Family Guy was also named the worst show of the 2006–2007 season by the PTC. The PTC has also objected to Fox scheduling Family Guy during early primetime hours due to their concerns of children being likely to watch the series.
Additionally, the PTC, which has generated most of the indecency complaints received by the United States Federal Communications Commission, has twice filed formal FCC complaints about Family Guy. The first indecency complaint, following the January 2005 rebroadcast of "And the Wiener Is...", was denied by the FCC on the grounds "that because of the absence of explicit or graphic descriptions or depictions of any sexual organ, along with the absence of shocking, pandering, and/or titillating effect, the episode ... is not patently offensive." In November 2005, during "sweeps" period for the 2005–2006 television season, the Parents Television Council launched a campaign for its members to file indecency complaints to the FCC for the episode "PTV", the Family Guy episode that satirized the FCC, for its sexually explicit humor. However, the PTC had expressed doubt over whether they would formally complain to the FCC over that episode; the PTC has not logged any complaints filed through their website. In fact, that episode was highlighted in the Fox special TV's Funniest Moments that was broadcast on June 1, 2007; a rerun of the program on August 20 that year was named "Worst of the Week" by the PTC, noting that the "PTV" episode was among the highlights in the special. On March 11, 2009, PTC filed complaints about the episode "Family Gay" over claims that the episode contained sexual content in violation of indecency law. Then on December 15, 2009, PTC filed an indecency complaint about the episode "Business Guy" two days after its airdate, citing a scene including a lap dance as a possible violation of federal law regarding broadcast decency. In 2010, PTC filed a complaint against the 150th episode of Family Guy, "Brian and Stewie", taking offense at excretory references. PTC president Tim Winter said: "It seems as though Family Guy creator, Seth MacFarlane, carefully reviewed the legal definition of broadcast indecency and set out to violate it as literally as he could."
The PTC have also accused Fox of failing to include "S" (sexual content) and "V" (violence) descriptors in content ratings for some Family Guy episodes. Additionally, the Council has asked Family Guy sponsors Wrigley Company and Burger King to stop advertising for the show and has frequently accused the Fox network of what they perceive as the show being marketed to children.
Family Guy executive producer David Goodman responded to the PTC's criticisms by claiming that Family Guy is "absolutely for teenagers and adults" and he does not allow his two children to watch the show.
Allegations of anti-religious sentiments
An example of anti-religious sentiment would be in the episode, "Road to the Multiverse", the "World Without Christianity", which is depicted as being a futuristic, happy world where Christianity ceases to exist. The reason it is so advanced is said to be because the Dark Ages never happened. Entertainment Weekly TV critic Ken Tucker criticized the show for being anti-Semitic. In 1999, L. Brent Bozell III wrote that he felt the episode "Holy Crap" promoted anti-Catholicism.
The Parents Television Council has criticized what it perceives as Family Guy's negative treatment of religion, concluding in its 2006 report Faith in a Box: Entertainment Television and Religion 2005-2006 that "mockery of God is a constant" on the show.
On October 3, 2007, the Bourne Company publishing house, sole owner of the song "When You Wish upon a Star", filed a lawsuit against the makers of Family Guy, claiming copyright infringement over the song "I Need a Jew". The suit claims harm to the value of the song due to the offensive nature of the lyrics. On March 16, 2009, U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts ruled that Family Guy did not infringe copyright when they transformed the song "When You Wish Upon a Star" for comical use in an episode.
Allegations of insensitivity towards transgender people
AfterElton.com writer Brent Hartinger graded an episode which featured a character named Ida who undergoes a sex change operation negatively. While noting that the episode deserves credit for making important points about transgender people, he found its inclusion of the vomiting scene and Lois and Peter's transphobic remarks about Ida to be "shockingly insensitive". Hartinger continued, "Frankly, it's literally impossible for me to reconcile last night's episode with MacFarlane's words, unless I come to the conclusion that the man is pretty much a complete idiot." The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, an LGBT media watchdog organization, released a statement about the episode, noting that "GLAAD shares the serious concerns being voiced from members of the community and GLAAD’s Entertainment Media Team is addressing these with Fox."
Sarah Palin controversy
In February 2010, following the airing of the episode "Extra Large Medium", in which Ellen, a female character with Down syndrome, mentions that her mother is a former governor of Alaska. Bristol Palin, daughter of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, criticized the show for mocking her brother Trig, who has Down syndrome, and people with special needs in general. Stating on her mother's Facebook page, "If the writers of a particularly pathetic cartoon show thought they were being clever in mocking my brother and my family yesterday, they failed. All they proved is that they're heartless jerks." Sarah Palin herself also criticized the episode in an appearance on The O'Reilly Factor, calling those who made the show "cruel, cold-hearted people."
MacFarlane responded that the series uses biting satire as the basis of its humor, and that it was an "equal-opportunity offender". Andrea Fay Friedman, the actress and public speaker who voiced Ellen, and who herself has Down syndrome, responded to the criticism, saying that the Palin joke in the show was aimed at Sarah and not her son, and that the "former Governor Palin does not have a sense of humor." In a subsequent interview, Friedman rebuked Palin personally, saying she was angry with Sarah Palin for using her son Trig as a political prop to pander for votes, that she has a normal life and that Palin's son Trig should be treated as normal rather than like a "loaf of bread."
MacFarlane characterized Palin's outrage as a presumptuous attempt to defend people with Down syndrome, and characterizing Friedman's statement as her way of saying that she does not need feigned pity from Sarah Palin.
In addition, Family Guy has been panned by some media critics. Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly has frequently panned the show, grading it with a "D", and naming it the worst show of the 1999–2000 television season. Tucker responded to a reader's question in 2005 that he continued to dislike the series. Mark Graham noted "MacFarlane's incredibly rocky relationship with both the magazine and its lead television critic, Ken Tucker" in a blog on the New York magazine website.
In the commentary for the Family Guy direct-to-video film, Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story, Seth MacFarlane notes that Entertainment Weekly had been much nicer to them recently, giving them a cover story upon their return to the air. In that same film, Stewie breaks the neck of a reporter as soon as he discovers he works for Entertainment Weekly.
Controversy and criticism by other cartoonists
Other cartoonists have criticized the show as well. The show's animation has come under fire by Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi, who expresses concern that the current generation of aspiring animators will be negatively influenced by the simplistic quality of animation in cartoons like Family Guy.
The show's writing style has also come under criticism by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. In a 2006 interview, Parker and Stone stated that they dislike having their show compared to Family Guy. After the episode "Cartoon Wars" aired, Parker states they received support and gratitude from the staffs of The Simpsons and King of the Hill for "ripping on Family Guy". Parker and Stone clarify their opinions of Family Guy in the DVD commentary for the episodes. They say that, although they respect it for its fans and making people laugh, they ultimately hate the show itself and have absolutely no respect for its writing, given its overuse of gag humor that has nothing to do with the story.
During his "class day" address at Harvard University on June 7, 2006, Seth MacFarlane addressed Stone and Parker's criticisms in character as Stewie, stating that the "...cutaways and flashbacks have nothing to do with the story. They're just there to be 'funny'. That is a shallow indulgence that South Park is quite above, and, for that, I salute them."
Several episodes of The Simpsons, including "Missionary: Impossible", "Treehouse of Horror XIII", and "The Italian Bob" have poked fun at Family Guy, implying that MacFarlane's show is guilty of plagiarism. However, both MacFarlane and Simpsons creator Matt Groening have said that there is no serious feud between the two of them and their shows. At the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International on July 24, 2010, The Simpsons writer Matt Selman jokingly referred to MacFarlane, stating, "Come on, Seth MacFarlane does one show three times." Selman later backed away from the comment, adding, "Those shows are all really funny – they deserve to exist." The animated film Bender's Big Score, which is based on Matt Groening's other show, Futurama, featured a Family Guy Laugh a Month calendar. MacFarlane later appeared as a Las Vegas singer in the Futurama film Into the Wild Green Yonder, and Bender from Futurama appeared briefly in the episode "The Splendid Source" in 2010.
In the episode "420", Stewie and Brian try to legalize marijuana. The Venezuelan government reacted negatively to the episode, and banned Family Guy from airing on any local station which generally fill their schedules with re-runs of old US shows. Local station Televen was threatened with financial sanctions for broadcasting the show, which was avoided by broadcasting Baywatch instead. The station was forced to show public service films as an apology. Venezuelan Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami stated that any cable stations which refuse to cease airings of the show would be fined, and also criticized the show for promoting the use of marijuana. Later the Venezuelan government showed a clip of the episode which featured Brian and Stewie singing about marijuana; they then stated that the show is an example of how the US supports the use of marijuana.
Family Guy is also banned in Taiwan, China, Iran, Egypt, Malaysia, South Africa, South Korea, and Vietnam.
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- ^ Bourne Co., vs. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Fox Broadcasting Company, Twentieth Century Fox Television, Inc., Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Inc., Fuzzy Door Productions, Inc., The Cartoon Network, Inc., Seth MacFarlane, Walter Murphy. Text
- ^ Kearney, Christine (2009-03-16). ""Family Guy" wins court battle over song". Reuters. Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE52F6W620090316. Retrieved 2009-03-17.
- ^ Hartinger, Brent (May 10, 2010). "Is Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane a Complete Idiot?". AfterElton.com. http://www.afterelton.com/TV/2010/5/seth-macfarlane-complete-idiot. Retrieved May 10, 2010.
- ^ Rosales, Jonathan (May 10, 2010). "GLAAD Shares Community Concerns About Last Night’s Family Guy". Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. http://glaadblog.org/2010/05/10/glaad-shares-community-concerns-about-last-nights-family-guy/. Retrieved May 10, 2010.
- ^ "Trig Palin: Sarah Palin On Having A Down Syndrome Baby (PHOTOS)". "Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/08/29/trig-paxson-van-palin-sar_n_122474.html. Retrieved 2010-11-01.
- ^ Fox Hollywood - What a Disappointment
- ^ "Sarah Palin Responds To "Family Guy"". Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/02/16/sarah-palin-responds-to-f_n_464939.html. Retrieved 2010-02-17.
- ^ "Sarah Palin vs. 'Family Guy': Seth MacFarlane responds (sort of)". Los Angeles Times. February 16, 2010. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/showtracker/2010/02/sarah-palin-v-family-guy.html. Retrieved February 20, 2010.
- ^ Itzkoff, Dave (February 18, 2010). "‘Family Guy’ Voice Actor Says Palin ‘Does Not Have a Sense of Humor’". The New York Times. http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/18/family-guy-voice-actor-says-palin-does-not-have-a-sense-of-humor/. Retrieved 2010-02-18.
- ^ "'Family Guy' Actress Says Sarah Palin is Chasing Votes". The Insider. February 19, 2010. http://www.theinsider.com/news/3204244__Family_Guy_Actress_Says_Sarah_Palin_is_Chasing_Votes/. Retrieved 2010-02-20.
- ^ Real Time With Bill Maher. HBO. February 19, 2010.
- ^ Tucker, Ken (1999-04-09). "Family Guy". Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,273010,00.html. Retrieved 2009-02-28.
- ^ Tucker, Ken. "'Family' Matters". Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,701497,00.html. Retrieved 2009-02-28.
- ^ Graham, Mark (2008-12-04). "Seth MacFarlane Named ‘Smartest Person on TV,’ Ken Tucker Promptly Keels Over". New York Magazine. http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2008/12/seth_macfarlane_named_smartest.html. Retrieved 2009-02-28.
- ^ "There's Something About Paulie". Family Guy. Fox. 2000-06-27. No. 9, season 2. 6:44 minutes in.
- ^ Amid Amidi (2004-08-31). "The John Kricfalusi Interview, Part 2". Cartoon Brew. Cartoon Brew LLC.. Archived from the original on 2004-08-31. http://www.cartoonbrew.com/old-brew/the-john-kricfalusi-interview-part-2. Retrieved 2007-03-26. "You can draw Family Guy when you're ten years old...The standards are extremely low."
- ^ "Trey Parker and Matt Stone". Exclaim!. June 2005. http://exclaim.ca/articles/questionaire.aspx?csid1=70. Retrieved 2007-03-26.
- ^ Nick, Gillespie; Jesse Walker (December 2006). "South Park Libertarians". Reason. http://www.reason.com/news/show/116787.html. Retrieved 28 August 2009.
- ^ Nathan Rabin (2006-04-26). "Interview: Matt Groening". The A.V. Club. Onion Inc.. http://www.avclub.com/content/node/47771. Retrieved 2006-12-12. "The rivalry is very affectionate..."
- ^ "Timeline at familyguy.tktv.net". http://familyguy.tktv.net/news.html. "You know, it's funny. Matt Groening and I actually have a great relationship..."
- ^ Kennedy, Gerrick D. (2010-07-24). "COMIC-CON: 'The Simpsons' get 'Glee'-ful for upcoming season". Los Angeles Times. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/showtracker/2010/07/comiccon-the-simpsons-get-gleeful-for-new-season.html. Retrieved 2010-08-15.
- ^ Epstein, Daniel Robert (2003). "AL JEAN". UGO Networks. http://www.ugo.com/channels/filmtv/features/aljean/. Retrieved October 28, 2010. "... I wasn't a big fan of Family Guy. To be honest, I thought it was a little to derivative of The Simpsons to the point where I would see jokes we did on The Simpsons or The Critic on Family Guy. They should be more original. ..."
- ^ "Venezuela bans Family Guy cartoon". BBC News. September 27, 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8277129.stm. Retrieved August 27, 2010.
- ^ "No watching "Family Guy" in Venezuela". Global Post. October 6, 2009. http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/venezuela/091001/family-guy-banned. Retrieved August 27, 2010.
- ^ "lmao so many countries banning family guy". http://www.unitethecows.com/movies-television/42916-lmao-so-many-countries-banning-family-guy.html.
Family Guy Characters Griffin family Other characters Production Media releases
- The Life of Larry shorts
- Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story
- Live in Vegas
Seasons Hallmarks Merchandise See also
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