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PTC to News Media: “Why Are You Not?”



In 1846, American poet Henry David Thoreau protested the United States’ invasion of Mexico by refusing to pay his taxes. Thoreau was imprisoned and ostracized by his community, but still refused to pay as a matter of principle. Thoreau’s friend, the philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, visited Thoreau in jail. When Emerson asked him, “Henry, why are you here?” Thoreau, understanding the wrong of America’s actions, replied, “Why are you not?”


On Sunday, March 8th, the Fox network aired another episode of its offensive cartoon Family Guy. Seth MacFarlane, the creator of Family Guy and its allied animated atrocity American Dad, has never been accused of good taste; but this episode delved into the deepest dregs of depravity. Here are just a few samples of the episode’s outrageous content:


  • A horse licks Peter's bare-behind which is exposed while he and Lois are asleep in the bed.


PETER:  “Mmm, what made you come around, Lois?”  (moans) “I love you so much.  I love you so much, Lois.”


  • LOIS:  “Peter, why are there so many bottles of milk in the refrigerator?” 


PETER:  “Oh, thanks for reminding me.  Everyone, some of the milk in the fridge is not milk.  It's horse sperm.  I'm a horse breeder now.”


Baby Stewie hesitates when he lifts a spoonful of cereal to his mouth, but then keeps eating it anyway.


  • Chris thinks his math homework is too hard.


PETER:  “Well, you know, it doesn't have to be.  One trick I used to use is turning things into a word problem.  For example, if there are three glory holes in the bathroom at the club and 28 guys at the circuit party.  How many rotations of guys will it take before everybody's had a turn?  Nine with a remainder of Brent. Cuz Brent can't fit in the glory hole and that's why we all like Brent.”


  • At Straight Camp, the staffer introduces the campers to Harry the Homosexual. 


STAFFER:  “Harry's choice of lifestyle is wrong, so we're gonna beat him up for it.  Now take these baseball bats and get to it.”


The campers each grab a bat and chase Harry off camera.


  • Peter returns to his apartment with Scott.  Scott greets him with a kiss.


SCOTT:  “Guess what.  I have a welcome home surprise for you.”


PETER:  “Dish, dish, dish.”


SCOTT:  “Remember how you told me your ultimate fantasy was to have an eleven way?” 


PETER: “Oh, my god!  Yes, I do.  And you so did not even.”


SCOTT:  Oh, but I did.  Yoo-hoo, guys.


Nine men saunter into the living room wearing nothing but tight white underwear.


  • At the racetrack, Peter's horse goes berserk.  The PA announcer describes the carnage.


ANNOUNCER:  “What's this?  It looks like Til Death has taken a right turn and is heading into the stands.  Dear God, I could describe the horror I am witnessing but it is so unfathomably ugly and heart-rending that I cannot bring myself to do so, although I do possess the necessary descriptive powers.  Oh, at least the horse ran past the class of visiting deaf 2nd graders. Oh, no!  Dear God, he's going back.  I know you can't hear any screams, but I assure you they are signing frantically just as fast as their little fingers can shape the complicated phonemes necessary to convey dread and terror. “


Bestiality. Glory holes. Circuit parties. Gay orgies. Eating horse sperm. This is the kind of “entertainment” Fox thinks is ideal for America’s kids to see on a Sunday night cartoon.


It comes as no surprise that Seth MacFarlane delights in depravity. Such has consistently been demonstrated by various Family Guy episodes, including one shown last Mother’s Day, in which Baby Stewie plots various ways to torture his mother, and then is shown murdering her, or the program’s 100th episode anniversary, which compiled clips highlighting various beatings, sexual dialogue and  scenes of characters vomiting from Family Guy’s first few years – among many other examples.   


What was truly shocking about MacFarlane’s latest example of cultural coproma was the reaction of the news media.


After the broadcast of the offensive Family Guy episode, the PTC e-mailed its members and put out a press release urging the public to file protests with the Federal Communications Commission, requesting that it uphold the nation’s laws against broadcasting indecent content on the publicly-owned airwaves.


This was a perfectly reasonable reaction, given the many scientific studies which demonstrate the harmful effects of sexually explicit television on children and teens. Among other evidence, a Rand Corporation study found that “frequent exposure to TV sexual content was associated with a significantly greater likelihood of teen pregnancy in the following three years.”  And a detailed, 30-year study undertaken by the National Institutes of Health and Yale University reviewed findings from 173 previous studies and found a 93% correlation between media exposure and sexual behavior.


A few news sources, like Broadcasting & Cable, TVNewsday and Communications Daily reported the PTC’s request for enforcement of existing broadcast decency laws in a straightforward manner.

But many more did not.


In fact, the much of the media’s coverage was squarely in favor of Family Guy‘s harmful and offensive content – and took the opportunity to attack the PTC. 


The Hollywood Reporter ’s James Hibberd led off the mockery by stating that “there's nothing hotter than PTC president Tim Winter talking about graphic TV content,” before quoting the PTC’s press release. After the PTC’s description of the episode’s contents Hibberd sneered, “I know. I can't believe I missed Family Guy last week either.” Hibberd then reprinted a quote Seth MacFarlane gave about the PTC in an interview with the gay magazine The Advocate last year:


“That’s like getting hate mail from Hitler. They’re literally terrible human beings. I’ve read their newsletter, I’ve visited their website, and they’re just rotten to the core. For an organization that prides itself on Christian values — I mean, I’m an atheist, so what do I know? — they spend their entire day hating people. They can all suck my d**k as far as I’m concerned."


Hibberd wound up his story by linking to footage of a Family Guy scene mocking the FCC. 


Hibberd’s story from the supposedly professional Hollywood Reporter set the tone for the “journalism” which followed. TV Squad‘s Bob Sassone admitted to being ”kinda shocked by the episode,” but went on to state that “that's what makes it funny.”


Celebrity gossip maven and self-proclaimed “queen of all media” Perez Hilton shrugged off the episode’s content in his first sentence: “Bestiality, orgies and babies eating sperm, oh my!” Hilton went on to call the PTC’s efforts “a waste of energy,” then parroted MacFarlane’s quote from his Advocate interview, concluding with, “we'll say it anyways - The Parents Television Council can suck our d**k!!!!” [without asterisks in the original].


Predictably, The Advocate itself recycled MacFarlane’s quote in their coverage, implicitly defending Family Guy‘s offensive depictions of bestiality and babies eating sperm as “off-the-wall animated comedy.”


The Advocate’s opposition to the PTC is odd, given that the Parents Television Council is not an anti-gay organization. Programs with gay characters or plotlines about gay concerns draw no comment from the PTC. The PTC’s concern is solely that of protecting children from all graphic sexual content on TV, regardless of the genders or orientations of the individuals involved. Surely, gay parents and families are just as concerned about their children being exposed to graphic and gratuitous sexual content as are heterosexual parents. Given this, one must wonder how The Advocate would respond to a TV program that portrayed the brutal murderers of Matthew Shepherd in a positive light, or which openly promoted violence specifically against gays. It is doubtful that their response to such offensive content would be to simply “change the channel” and never utter a word of complaint, out of a principled recognition of the “free speech rights” of homophobes.  Nor is it likely that the nation’s TV critics and bloggers would in such a case tell rightly outraged gays, “If you don’t like it, don’t watch it” – yet these are precisely the responses that typically greet the PTC’s actions.


But it was the infinitely ignorable LA Rag Mag which vomited forth the most vitriol, calling the PTC a “crazy Christian organization” composed of “freedom hating members.” (For the record, the PTC is not a religious organization nor is it affiliated with any religious group or denomination.) Continued the Rag, “We saw this episode and thought it was one of the funniest episodes we had ever seen. Yes, we did gasp at the sperm bottle consumption and the gay orgy scene.” Preceding PTC President Winter’s quote with, “Here is what the God loving Family Guy hating [sic] people had to say,” the Rag Mag – surprise! – also reprinted Seth MacFarlane’s Advocate quote. (Apparently, such “serious journalists” are not only incapable of thinking for themselves, but are lazy in the bargain.) The Rag Mag then boasted, “We met and had cigarettes with Seth at the Emmy’s and he could not have been a cooler guy,” and finished their article by proudly proclaiming, “We are on team Seth!” No doubt Seth MacFarlane is gratified to have so influential a media behemoth as the LA Rag Mag in his corner.


What one learns from this (other than the fact that professional journalists apparently think that “suck my d**k” is the wittiest and most intellectually sophisticated phrase in the English language) is not merely that the media are whole-heartedly supportive of MacFarlane’s vile programming – it is that they have no good reason for being so.


Note that in none of these articles do those supporting MacFarlane offer any reason for their position, other than “we like it!” Of course, the alleged tastes of the nation’s media professionals is open to question; this column has previously shown that the nation’s TV critics are completely out of touch with the beliefs of average Americans, so it comes as little surprise that their cohorts in the news media possess the same defect.


But what is truly of concern is this: those in the media are so invested emotionally (and perhaps financially) in defending Seth MacFarlane that none of them shows even the slightest concern about – or even interest in discussing -- the content of Family Guy itself.


The question must be asked: where are the reflective and intellectual qualities with which the nation’s journalists are supposedly invested? Where is the news media willing to “speak truth to power,” when the “power” is a multi-million-dollar Seth MacFarlane franchise?  Is it truly the case that not a single one of these reporters believed that there is anything offensive in showing babies eating horse sperm on a Sunday night cartoon? Do none of America’s media commentators believe there is anything indecent about describing “a gay eleven-way” in a show on at 8:00 p.m.?  Are there no mainstream bloggers who think that mocking deaf children as “signing frantically” as they die is at all problematic?  Is there nothing in this episode which any journalist, critic, or blogger found even mildly offensive or worthy of concern?  Family Guy‘s doesn’t content bother any of them? Really?


Like Emerson, America’s media Establishment asks, “Why is the PTC complaining about this kind of entertainment? Why are you here?” After seeing what Seth MacFarlane is putting on the public airwaves, like Thoreau the PTC can only reply: “Why are you not?”


YOU can help the PTC stand up to Seth MacFarlane – AND to the news media that supports him!


Click here to help the PTC in its mission.


TV Trends: This column was compiled from reports by the Parents Television Council’s Analysis staff.


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