Just a Joke?

Family Guy is one of the highest rated cartoons out there right now, ranking up there with The Simpsons and South Park, and is in its eleventh season now; known for its racy comedy, outrageous jokes, and shock value, Family Guy requires an open sense of humor to watch. I too tune in to see what kind of extreme situations the characters get themselves into every week, but this class is making me think about what the show is actually portraying. Though it is loved by a very large audience, there are still those who despise the show and what it stands for. One argument against family guy is that it is racist, while one of the arguments supporting Family Guy is that it is not racist because it makes fun of everybody; if it makes fun of everybody, not just one group of people, is it really any more acceptable? Before this class, if I had heard somebody call this show racist I would have told them to relax because it is just a joke; though now I am beginning to realize that even if it is just a joke, it can still harm people. This clip, taken from Family Guy season 11, episode 11, focuses on Asians and reinforces stereotypes associated with them.
Family Guy is dominated by controlling images, and while they may me funny and viewed with enlightened racism, the yellow face logics reinforced continuously in this show do not help in erasing these stereotypes from society. While it does not make fun of just one group, it shows how powerful the media is in today’s world, exemplified by the cultivation analysis theory; everybody knows these Asian stereotypes, from children in grade school to the elderly, and all it does is marginalize those affected by them. This show can also create a sense of xenophobia or yellow peril that will lead Asian Americans to feel like a forever foreigner, and while we could ask that Family Guy stops all of its racist humor, it will not happen because these essentialisms are pretty much all it has going for it. The writers of this show have found a way to turn these dominant ideologies into a commodity, and the ratings show that this will continue for a while. Family Guy is popular among all audiences, but just because it doesn’t single out a specific group doesn’t mean it is any more acceptable.

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One thought on “Just a Joke?

  1. I haven’t watched this show, but wasn’t quite clear on your opinion–do you think it is “just a joke” or that it perpetuates existing stereotypes? Does the show reproduce xenophobia and racism or not?

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