Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy has elements of blatant racism that seemed to be accepted in the American home. Often, the minorities in the animated sitcom are the subject of ridicule or hyperbolic stereotyping, it is a familiar technique to prey on minorities for a cheap laugh. A prime example could be found in the episode “The Son Also Draws”, indigenous people of the United States are depicted as greedy swindlers, capitalizing off of their heritage and a casino.
The surrealistic and animated nature of the show may allow the characters to partake in scenarios that would never happen in real life, and never be acted out by live actors on a set. In The Sitcom Reader, the chapter on magicoms discuss how even though these elements of certain shows may ‘detach’ it from reality, the topics discussed or how people are illustrated on shows such as these, are still detrimental to the ones being the subject of ridicule. Family Guy is this type of show.
Embedded in the humor and outrageous antics are a plethora of ideals and attitudes towards minorities that are not in the least productive towards reversing damaging images of minorities. Family Guy is the kind of show that prides itself on its’ offensiveness, most of it may just be for shock value, but this kind of tool cannot continue to be accepted as “OK”.
People may argue that it is only harmless jokes, but this representation and representations like this continue to be damaging to the image of a group of people. Perpetuation of these stereotypes are regressive. It is amazing to me that ridicule such as this can be depicted on television, and accepted, while accurate representation of minorities is often ignored or even combated in White US sitcoms.
The more authentic a show to a group of minorities, it seems the shorter it lasts, but racist elements will seem to be something acceptable in US sitcoms, especially when the characters are “not real”. This is something to think critically about. What makes this acceptable?
I do watch Family Guy myself, but I do find myself cringing and turning the channel when these offensive jokes make their way onto my TV screen.