Last night I watched the Family Guy episode “Quagmire’s Dad” which is certainly the least funny episode of the show I have ever seen, and also definitely the most offensive. Nothing new there, you might think. Another adult cartoon losing its edge and going down the pan. Well, yeah, I thought that when Brian and Stewie got locked in a bank vault with no food and a dirty nappy (which was just as unfunny as it sounds), but this really was something else. The main story is that Quagmire’s father is suspected to be gay by Peter and Joe but, when confronted about this by Glenn, admits to being a trans woman. If you watch the show, I’m sure you can begin to imagine how they dealt with this one.
I searched the internet for what everyone else was saying about this episode and did come across quite a few people saying that Family Guy is always making fun out of pretty much everyone and everything, so why get offended… it’s just a cartoon. One commenter on Queerty‘s post about the episode said: “Any viewer imbecilic enough to be offended by the lack of ‘sensitivity’ on Family Guy needs to start over again with fucking Sesame Street”. Well, how about being offended by the lack of funny material in a supposed comedy show, eh? I have been shocked by comedy before (most recently by a live performer joking about rape) but, if it’s funny, it can be challenging. There’s nothing challenging or helpful about a character telling her daughter to throw away food made by a trans woman and there’s certainly nothing at all entertaining about a character vomiting for 30 seconds when he finds out he’s had sex with a trans woman. I mean, seriously, WTF?
After Elton‘s Brent Hartinger asked, “Is Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane a complete idiot?” and I have to say that I think the answer is yes. Why the hell else would he write such rubbish and think it was “probably the most sympathetic portrayal of a transexual character that has ever been on television”?
Unfortunately, I'd wager that if you asked your average mainstream male how he'd feel if he'd found he'd had sex with a trans woman, vomiting would be the least of the responses. Look at the furore over Sky's There's Something About Miriam.
And Family Guy is *meant* to be an offensive comedy. Like South Park, if it sees a huge comedic red button, it'll hit it, regardless of the consequences.
It's not right and it's not ok but there you have it.
Thing is though, it wasn't actually funny. The guy I mentioned who ‘joked’ about rape (one of the few subjects I think comedians should avoid), actually made me laugh because of the way the subject was handled. This, on the other hand was piss poor.
As 'Mid West Gender Queer' said “In every offensive topic presented by controversial shows like Family Guy, there is always a 'conscience' character to be your guide, point out the problematic stuff and provide the correct view to counter the offensive one. In this episode, however, there was none of the usual wifely 'voice of reason' from Lois or philosophical analyzing from Brain. Without that “Conscience Character” to guide the audience, the message is clear; that it is ok to act this way.”
I'd actually like to ask almostwitty.com what he thinks a 'mainstream male' is, and would also like to ask him to consider why he decided to speak for men in this way.
In fact he is falling back onto negative stereotypes and prejudices against trans people. What he needs to understand is that a trans woman *is* a woman, a trans man *is* a man. His comments fall into the ignorant point of view, perpetuated by a trans-prejudiced media, that it's ok to be disgusted by a person because of your opinion of them, *not* about the person they are.
Furthermore, almostwitty.com states that “vomiting would be the least of the responses”. Maybe I'm reading into what he's saying, but that kind of comment comes worryingly close to advocating that violence against trans people is acceptable because somehow they've 'tricked a poor defenceless man' into having sex with them.
I have witnessed some ill-advised and not particularly erudite comments from almostwitty.com beforehand, and they have mostly all come from deep ignorance and the idea that he actually should have an opinion on something he knows very little about.
Trans people face violence, ignorance, hatred and prejudice every day, and his kind of comments are a complete example of that kind of hateful opinion. If you make jokes about people that are marginalised, oppressed and abused, without giving them some dignity, then it's not comedy, it's abuse.
I know the organisation almostwitty.com works for and role he and holds, and I can assure him that that kind of comment is not acceptable in that organisation, nor should it be anywhere else.
Let me also remind him that yesterday was the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. The comments he's just made are *transphobic*. Sorry to break it to him…
erm… you haven't met me.
Pointing out the *likely* response of mainstream society to things is not the same as advocating them. I'm fairly sure that my walking into a pub during an England World Cup game and cheering on the opposing team might just create a problem – even though there's nothing wrong with cheering on the opposing team.
As for what I would define a mainstream male – try walking into a pub, going up to the nearest bloke, and generally asking them.
And please don't bring my employment into it. Any more than I'd bring yours into any discussion outside the workplace.
No, you're pointing out what you *think* is the likely response, and that comes from your own prejudice, rather than any empirical evidence. Aside from the fact that walking into a pub during a football match would have a particular demographic and behaviour in a place like that is likely to be homophobic and transphobic in the first place.
Why not try suggest going into a library and asking there? Or maybe a doctors' surgery, or a pub with largely trans patrons? No, you picked a place that is obviously going to foster that kind of attitude towards minorities, only to support your argument.
As for bringing in your employer, you have provided a link to this page that advertises that fact, so I'm not bringing your employment into it at all, you are.
You claim that age-old defence of “it's not what I think, it's what others think”, although again, this is an opinion, not fact. Saying “I think that most people would feel anger at finding out they'd slept with a trans woman” is a transphobic statement to make! Sorry, but you have just made a transphobic statement! You can argue as much as you like, but that's exactly what you've done!
And we have met too, just that you'll probably have not noticed me.
Wait, you laughed at a rape joke?
The performance was at a David Lynch themed cabaret night and involed a story being told in the middle of a song. The song was a beautiful classic, the story he told around it involved rape and murder. It was shocking and challenging stuff.
So you were entertained by a story in the middle of a song…that contained rape. And murder. So was it that the Family Guy joke wasn't challenging enough for you to be a classic? Was the production value not high enough for a horrific action to become entertaining? I take it you didn't walk out of the cabaret act, then?
Just want to make sure the hypocrisy is well defined – would hate to pigeon hole you as someone who would be entertained by rape and murder, but angry at a cartoon whose sole marketing strategy is to be rude to everyone.
Did I say I was 'entertained' by it? Sorry, but I think you're reading stuff that isn't there.
I apologize. To be fair, I often attend shows for the purpose of not being entertained. If I am offended, bored, or rather not enjoy my time there, I make sure to stay.
Er, have you never been to a cabaret show? It's lots of short acts from different performers. Some you will like, some you will not like. Would you really walk out of a cabaret show because you didn't like /one/ particular act?
If you would rather walk out when you don't like something, I would appreciate it if you would kindly leave me and my blog alone. Thank you.
Not a worry. If I was horribly offended by something, yes I would. Rape, not a happy subject for me. Cartoon character vomiting after finding out he slept with a cartoon trans person, not your happy button. Understandable. What's disheartning is the fact you can excuse one and not the other. But again, no worries.
Maybe if the rape had happened to a trans person you might be willing to walk out of the cabaret act. Maybe not. Maybe it was just that good of a show.
I didn't walk out of the show and I didn't switch off the television because you can't comment fully on something you haven't seen. Rape is not a happy subject for me at all. It's something I fear greatly and something I wish could be completely removed from this world. It is one of the few subjects that shocks and offends me. I am not condoning rape, saying that rape is a good subject for humour, or making light of it in any way.
What I was saying is that I found that particular Family Guy episode unfunny. I, since writing this blog post, have realised that is perhaps due to the lack of balance displayed by any of the characters as usually there's a couple who remind the others that what they're doing/saying is wrong.
I am not excusing anything. I was simply remarking that a television show I once enjoyed appears to have lost its way. I disliked the episode because it was unfunny.
Having your views challenged is never 'entertaining' but there are people who welcome that as a way of reaffirming, or changing, what they think about a different topic.
And that episode doesn't sound funny to me either, but I've yet to see it. It does sound like it's more about the approach than the specifics of who the 'joke' was aimed at though (in other words, the episode could've centred around a handicapped person in a wheelchair and not had the right balance to keep it funny).
Trans woman? Tick in the box, surely? Life's too damn short people! 🙂