Brought to you by the Parents Television
Fox’s Family Guy: For Children?
Incredible as it
may seem, Fox’s filthy Family Guy – a show which would surely win any
contest for “Most Disgusting Broadcast Television Program” -- may actually be
growing worse in terms of its nauseating content.
Or perhaps Fox is
merely growing bolder in promoting it to young audiences.
While in other
nations animation has been used in a variety of genres and aimed at a variety of
ages for many years (such as Japan’s explicitly sexual and graphically violent
anime), in America animation has traditionally been considered safe and
friendly for children. Even when American animation carried adult humor or
subtext – such as many of the classic Warner Brothers Looney Tunes, the
Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons of the 1960s, or more recent efforts like
Animaniacs -- it typically eschewed open violence or references to sex.
Thus parents may be forgiven for assuming that animated programming,
particularly when it airs early on Sunday nights, is safe for their children to
(and its allied animated atrocity American Dad, both from the putrid pen
of “creator” Seth MacFarlane) definitely does not conform to this tradition.
MacFarlane and his fellows delight in being as openly crude, sexual,
scatological and violent as possible -- as witness just a few examples from the
show’s November 4, 2007 episode:
Sandra: “Oh, my Hickory
Farms package is here!”
Meg: “I’m going to pretend you’re the New York Knicks!”
Stewie: "I'll teach that hussy to go on a boat ride without me. When she returns
I'm going to put bamboo splinters under all her fingernails. And I'm going to
strip her down and tie her to the bed."
Stewie: "Then I'm going to make her crawl on her hands and knees while I drip
hot candle wax all over her back."
Brian: "And then what are you going to do?"
Stewie: "Let's see..."
Brian: "Are you going to shower her off after all of that candle
Stewie: "No. I'm going to keep her filthy."
Brian: "Yeah, she's been a bad girl."
Stewie: "And then I'm going to gag her with her own
Brian: "No, nothing. That's all part of your diabolical plan to
Stewie: "Yes, yes! She'll be humiliated."
Brian: "Maybe you'll handcuff her. She'll hate that."
Stewie: "Then I shall do that, as well."
Brian: "And call her a bitch?"
Stewie: "Until I'm hoarse with rage."
Brian: "Maybe smack her ass with a riding crop?"
Stewie: " Yes, and then…What?"
Brian: "That would show her."
Stewie: "You're getting some kind of sick sexual thrill off this,
MacFarlane knows all about sick thrills.
But granting that
Family Guy and American Dad deal in edgy, adult humor which has no
place on prime-time broadcast television, what is truly reprehensible is the Fox
network’s nonchalant – even approving – attitude toward advertising these
Fox has never been
shy about promoting Family Guy as appropriate for youth. Over the years,
various print and online ads have boasted that Family Guy is “#1 in
teens!” But now, the network seems positively bent on luring unsuspecting
viewers – many of whom are likely to be children – into watching its seamiest
On Sunday, November
18th, during Fox’s airing of the Cowboys/Redskins football game,
sports announcers promoted that night’s Family Guy episode, using the
same jocular tone employed to promote detergent or beer. No reference was made
to the content of the episode in question.
commercials for Family Guy aired during that game (and presumably in
other markets as well), brief film clips from the episode showed the character
of Peter wearing a business suit modeled on the American flag. Using this
patriotic image seems almost deliberately deceptive, intentionally designed to
lure innocent viewers into thinking that there could be nothing objectionable
about such a cartoon – certainly, nothing that would make it unsafe for their
children to watch.
Needless to say,
any such viewers would have been appalled by
actual content of that night’s episode.
Those who defend
the programs produced by MacFarlane and his ilk claim that parents are solely
responsible for protecting children from anything offensive or inappropriate.
True, parents ought to be concerned about what their children watch on TV – and
most are. But when the broadcast networks go out of their way to deliberately
mislead parents into thinking that adult-themed programming is harmless,
obviously the networks themselves bear a large measure of responsibility.
MacFarlane has befouled this nation’s tradition of family-friendly animated
humor – on programs named “Family Guy” and “American Dad”,
of all things – is bad enough; but that the Fox network collaborates in the
willful corruption of our children’s innocence is indefensible.
TV Trends: This column was compiled from reports by the
Parents Television Council’s Analysis staff: Aubree Bowling, Caroline
Schulenburg, Josh Shirlen, Keith White,
and Adam Shuler, under the direction of Dr. John Rattliff.