movies matter | criticism by maryann johanson
Fri Dec 05 2008, 11:58am | 19 comments
The most depressing thing ever: Seth MacFarlane’s fame. Why do people think he’s funny? Could the substance of this be more obvious and predictable?
Well, it’s not everybody’s cup of tea; and this short is kinda lame, but calling MacFarlane’s success the “most depressing thing ever” is a little over-the-top… I’m sure it’s just hyperbole, but really, let’s compare several depressing things in TV-land:
A. FOX replacing “Firefly” with “The Fastlane”
B. David Tennant leaving “Doctor Who”
C. The “Life on Mars” remake
D. “Family Guy” has a following
Let’s keep things in perspective! :)
Typical Seth, really. Mix retro references, totally obvious “humor”, and add a heaping helping of misogyny.
Not to be contrary, but I put the later seasons of “American Dad!” (which sometimes approaches “Simpsons in the nineties brilliance” in his plus column.
Family Guy is fantastic so he can’t be that bad..
The thing about Seth MacFarlane’s shows is that they represent a subpar example of a brand of humor I generally like… which, most nights, beats watching all the subpar examples of brands of humor I generally dislike playing on all the other broadcast channels (never had cable).
When Family Guy came out, it was fresh and funny to most people my age (I was 16). But after it was renewed from cancellation, the show seemed to really devolve into its model of “random references to pad the storyline”, which was highlighted by a South Park episode mocking it, adding to the ho-hum laziness.
I have to agree American Dad is better with its humor coming from the actual story. McFarlane’s humor has never been complicated, but it still is generally smarter than lots of generic sitcom stuff we see every day.
Let’s not forget, American Dad! also has Patrick Stewart in a recurring role. That has to count for something. :)
I actually used to like Family Guy in its early seasons. I liked the randomness. Then, as someone pointed out, it was exhumed and has sucked. The mean-spirited misogyny is what pushes it over the edge for me.
In the beginning, Peter was an ass who treated Lois and Meg badly, but the show itself knew he was in the wrong and usually he learned a lesson. But these new ones, hoo-boy. It’s “take THAT, bitches.”
What, did Sethy-poo have a bad breakup?
Like this cartoon, it expects us to side with Mario’s creepy insistance for a “kiss”, culminating in her messy death for not putting out. Take THAT, bitch. (the death doesn’t even make sense: Bowser wanted to marry her, not eat her. He could’ve eaten her any time he wanted and surely would have already. DUMB.)
American Dad *deep breath* doesn’t suck, and the women are much better, and no “cut-away” references. But it remains to be seen, really.
I think one the reason’s of the show’s effectiveness comes not from the scripts themselves but from the conjunction of the animation and the voice action, which, no matter what you think off the show’s quality, are pretty well done.
Oh, and I don’t it’s about Seth’s dislike of women, but rather that he thinks that ending a sketch with a gory death = entertainment. Which doesan’t mean it’s not misogeny.
This is the only gag I’ve ever smiled at in Family Guy (although it goes on far too long and is ended in the laziest way possible, which seems typical for anything that has Seth McFarlane’s name attached), and only because ridiculing my novel-writing hobby has been a cherished activity in my family for several years.
But yeah, his fame is depressing. Pop culture references + misogyny + violence + no narrative flow = great success with young men who have short attention spans, free time, and income they can’t wait to dispose of (the only people that matter). I’ve never seen American Dad, but I just watched five of the most popular clips on youtube, and… I’m pretty sure I never want to see American Dad.
Could be I’m not watching the right clips though. Combing through the mountains of pop culture detritus would be so much simpler if youtube would hurry up and add that “Actually Good” tab.
On an unrelated but happier note, I just started reading Natasha Randall’s new translation of We by Yevgeny Zamyatin. Anyone who likes 1984 and/or Brave New World should definitely check it out. It might lower your opinion of Huxley and Orwell a bit, since they both seemed to have read it prior to writing somewhat similar novels.
If you’re going to do Mario humor, do it right:
Kinda makes me think what would happen if Death Cab for Cutie met Jonathan Coulton
Rest assured the “most popular” are never the jewels.
I was slightly amused by the old-school Mario references, right up until the Princess’s death, which unlike the Nathan Fillion clip from a few weeks back actually did strike me as misogynist.
I have to agree American Dad is better with its humor coming from the actual story.
This may be true — Family Guy’s humor is definitely random, but I disagree 100% with the South Park creator’s adamant view that “real” humor comes from the story. If something’s funny, it’s funny, and there’s just no reason to hate one over the other. Sure, one’s a little more simple-minded and silly, but I get belly laughs from both shows, which is good enough for me.
The Simpsons uses this “story-based” joke method too (according to Matt & Trey anyway, I’m not sure I see it), and I think we can all agree that it hasn’t been funny, or relevant, in more than a decade.
calling MacFarlane’s success the “most depressing thing ever” is a little over-the-top…
Um, yeah! I guess everyone missed the joke about how this came at the end of a week of truly depressing “web videos of the day” I posted here.
It’s no Angus Frump kills Christmas, I’ll say that much!
Wow, there’s more defenders on here than I would have guessed. Sorry guys. Family Guy has never been funny and has never not been lazy, and American Dad is just a carbon copy since MacFarlane’s the definition of a one-trick pony.
(With respect) Uh, no, “American Dad!” is most certainly not a “carbon copy” of “FG”.
True, it started out weak in the 1st season, but I challenge you to watch the second and third seasons of the show. Its exponentially better written, directed, and produced than “FG”! (watch the episodes “Lincoln Lover” and “Escape from Pearl Bailey” if you don’t believe me.)
I don’t necessarily contribute the show’s quality to MacFarlane, since there are *two* other executive producers (also the co-creators) behind the show.
To: MaryAnn, with respect to your reviewing time, I think the DVDs of “AD!” volumes 2 and 3 would be excellent material for a review (but I’m kinda guessing the answer is “no”.
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