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Family Guy: Often Offensive, but Smart Humor

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Submitted By ajm6i
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Family Guy: Often Offensive, but Smart Humor Seth MacFarlane, the creator of the popular comedy show, Family Guy, is well known for his controversial style of humor. His use of offensive jokes makes for a bad reputation with media sources and celebrities. According to Antonia Peacocke, author of “Family Guy and Freud: Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious,” Before she was such a devotee, she was, “adamantly opposed to the program for its particular brand of humor” (300).
Antonia Peacocke explores the controversy of the jokes, and gives examples of how the show has been publicly criticized in past years. Family Guy is one of the only shows to be cancelled on multiple occasions because of off-color jokes. Peacocke informs readers that, “after its premiere in April 1999, the show ran until August 2000, but was besieged by so many complaints, that Fox was forced to suspend the show until July 2001, but the show didn’t come back the same as it was before. Due to censoring and an irregular air-time, the show’s ratings fell drastically and Family Guy was cancelled [again] in 2002” (300).
I agree with her completely that Family Guy attempts to pack in more gags per minute about sex, race, incest, celebrities, etc. than any other cartoon show. I don’t see this as a bad strategy though. Making fun of groups of people is not a good thing to do, but it’s all for comedic purposes. I believe that if people and American society can’t accept humor about ourselves then we will be overly sensitive when other countries criticize our ways. Family Guy also uses smart humor which can teach the ignorant (lacking in knowledge) viewers about pop culture and, “intelligently satirizes some aspects of American culture” (303). I would much rather watch shows by Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy and American Dad) than I would other shows that are in the same category. For example, The Simpsons may be viewed as a similar show, but I wouldn’t watch it. The Simpson’s lacks smart humor and seems like a ridiculous show to me. For example, Homer Simpson’s lack of discipline and parenting is a central theme in the shows seasons. Antonia Peacocke gives us examples of an episode, “Brian and Stewie demonstrate insightfully and comically how Americans are willing to follow the instructions of a celebrity blindly---and less willing to admit that they are doing so” (304). This episode of Family Guy lets American’s known of what they are blindly doing and harmlessly pokes fun at the situation.
I see Family Guy as a great show but I also agree with Antonia Peacocke’s closing statements. “While I love Family Guy as much as any fan, it’s important not to lose sight of what’s truly unfunny in real life---even as we appreciate what is hilarious in fiction” (308). Remember to accept what is funny about your own life and characteristics while being cautious of what you say about others. What may seem harmless to you, can be harmful to other cultures and groups of people.

Work Cited
Peacocke, Antonia. “Family Guy and Freud: Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious.” They Say/ I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. Ed. Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russel Durst. 2nd ed. New York, London: Norton, 2012. 299-310. Print.

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