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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

question of the day: ‘Family Guy’ abortion episode: WTF?

This is how big a cynic I am: When I heard that an upcoming episode of the Fox cartoon series Family Guy centered on abortion, and that Fox was chickening out of airing it, the only thing I could think was, Well, that’s a good way to get some press, ain’t it?

It all went down at Comic Con this past weekend, according to The Live Feed:

[Series creator Seth] MacFarlane revealed he’s producing a controversial episode about abortion for the upcoming season. But he and others on the panel said that Fox was unlikely to air the episode.

“20th Century Fox, as always, allowed us to produce the episode and then said, ‘You know what? We’re scared to f–king death of this,'” MacFarlane said.

The episode will probably be available on DVD, he added.

A Fox spokesperson said that no decision has yet been made on the matter.

Of course Fox will say that no decision has been made: it extends the life of the story, because we’ll all follow up when the decision is announced.

Am I wrong? Is the news that Fox won’t air the abortion episode of Family Guy just a ploy to get us all to watch it when it does, or to buy to the DVD if it doesn’t?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)



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  • Riley

    There was an episode that was never aired during the show’s original run that Fox wouldn’t air because they were afraid the content was too offensive. It ended up on the season DVD and Cartoon Network aired it. Fox later showed it when the series returned after cancellation.

    I don’t remember there being much hoopla about the super special unaired episode being on the DVD or when they actually decided not to air it, but I don’t really follow the show either. Either way, it wouldn’t be an unprecedented move for Fox to sit on it until they can gauge the reaction after a DVD release.

  • JoshDM

    But, but, but.

    Wasn’t there that Family Guy episode (Cleveland’s last ep., IIRC) that did the “real” history of Quahog, showing Peter’s ancestry?

    They had a “Ye Olde Abortion Clinic” which had a row of pregnant women going up a tall, free-standing flight of wooden stairs, and falling off the end onto the ground, landing on their stomachs.

    FOX didn’t censor that. Or at least, Adult Swim / Comedy Central didn’t.

  • Accounting Ninja

    I’ve gone from liking Family Guy to loathing it. It’s gotten more nasty with its misogyny. In the beginning, everyone was made fun of, plus there was a healthy dose of absurdity that I loved. But now the lady-hate is relentless, and I can almost hear Seth laughing and saying “Ha ha, take THAT, bitchez!”
    So abortion, yeah, wow. Well, hell, they’ve already made MANY rape jokes, the most egregious ones this and this (starts around 2:45). What Aqua Man says at the end of the first clip pretty much sums up MacFarlane’s view of rape victims. Grr >:(

  • Mimi

    Yeah, I agree, Accounting Ninja. I used to think it was funny — can’t tell if it’s changing or my perspective’s changing — but it stopped being funny and started seeming just mean-spirited instead, and I stopped watching.

  • Tyler

    It’s like the time they showed a bit on Guerilla Warfare… That got a bunch of people upset. I mean REALLY… teaching defenseless animals combat operations…They should REALLY outlaw Guerilla Warfare.

  • Accounting Ninja

    They had a “Ye Olde Abortion Clinic” which had a row of pregnant women going up a tall, free-standing flight of wooden stairs, and falling off the end onto the ground, landing on their stomachs.

    Yeah…of course, You Mileage May Vary, but to me, it wasn’t offensive, just tasteless. It was so silly and cartoony, and the women weren’t suffering (they just got up and were no longer visibly pregnant, wtf?) or being made into “sluts”. But then, why even go there? The problem with Seth is he’s demonstrated NO sympathy or understanding of women’s issues like rape and abortion. I’m of the opinion that there can be humor in anything, even in the most horrible of human suffering (see: gallows humor of paramedics or Monty Python), but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. So Seth just comes across to me like, “ha ha, women. Don’t they just suck ass? Exceptin’ the hott bitchez we can screw but I guess they still suck ass too! Heheheh!” And he’s achieved this dubious honor just through my repeated exposure of his “jokes” regarding women.

  • I think the manatee writers are gonna have a few words to say about that…

  • doa766

    I think it’s just to put pressure on Fox to air it. they already pull one (great) episode of the air a few years ago

  • Accounting Ninja

    I dunno. “When You Wish Upon a Weinstein” wasn’t that great. There were far better eps.

  • Or maybe Seth realizes how funny and easy it is too get people riled up when you joke about sensitive issues. The world does not revolve around your personal politics or what you hold sacred.

    And for the love of god will people please start getting this. When something racist, sexist or whatever is joked about in an absurd, over the top way it is not an endorsement of those views. It is mocking people who hold them.

  • amanohyo

    John, Meg is abused and insulted in various over the top ways as a running “joke” in Family Guy. Are you claiming that when various male characters verbally abuse Meg that the show is mocking people who hold sexist views? The marriage of an attractive, intelligent woman like Louis to a man-child like Peter is absurd and over the top. Would you say that the show is mocking this type of marriage?

    If Peter, Brian, and Stewie were ever to go to Vegas and kill fifty prostitutes as part of a “joke,” it would certainly qualify as absurd and over the top, but I fail to see how it would mock people who believe that prostitutes are expendable. Absurd and over the top does not always equal satire.

    You may be confusing irreverent non sequiturs with satire. While it’s certainly possible to produce effective satire that is stupid and somewhat random (see Life of Brian), the writers of Family Guy have set their sights a lot lower. As far as I can tell, they just want to shock, offend and stroke your pop-culture nostalgia. Kind of like those teenagers that tell dead baby jokes because they’re so “edgy.” Any actual satire in Family Guy is usually a purely unintentional side effect; the show is about as edgy as a donut.

  • Accounting Ninja

    That’s the laziest form of humor. Shock humor. Anyone can do it. Just find something offensive and beat it into the ground. There are those that can do it well. They can bring something new to the table. South Park and yes, even old Family Guy does it. But the misogyny has gotten to be too much for me with the new ones. Does he still make fun of pop culture and races? Yeah, but it hasn’t reached nearly the depths of venom he reserves for women.

    Take for example some of the ancillary female characters that have been on FG. How many have gone nutso and/or met a gruesome end? Olivia, Joan, Mrs. Lockhart. etc. Olivia: made a “slut” by an abusive, jealous Stewie and ultimately burned alive. Joan: right after marrying Quagmire does a complete 180 and goes psycho until she’s killed. Even before then, Quagmire suddenly decided he didn’t want to be married so the writers gave him a way out by making her crazy anyway. Mrs. Lockhart: turns out to be a devious, slutty killer. That “Bachlorette” actress that turned out to be faking her love for Brian all along (cuz women are decietful bitches, amirite?). Oh, Brian’s other girlfriend, Carolyn, who sleeps with Cleveland for no reason (cuz women are total sluts, haha!) Even Brian’s girlfriend Jillian; she didn’t die or go insane, but she was really REALLY stupid. As much as I liked her (I like Drew Barrymore:)), I couldn’t help notice that only because she was hott and dumb did she escape unscathed.
    Thankfully, seems that Chris the son’s love interests have fared better, but let’s talk about the difference between Chris and his sister Meg. Despite being fatter, stupider and less attractive than Meg, Chris is treated 1000 times better. Meg is brutally degraded, punched, hit with objects, subject to relentless insults about her body and jokes about her being a man, hated by her family (and I mean hated) and treated unfairly on a regular basis, whereas Chris is allowed better stories and though called fat or dumb sometimes, is never subjected to the cruelty Meg is. He’s even had some sweet romantic stories, like with Sam in the south. His looks/intelligence was never even mentioned. But Meg’s love stories always end very badly, like the doctor who abandoned her asap, or she goes uncharacteristically psycho (gee, whata surprise) like in the episode where she starts to love Brian. Because Meg is a girl who dares not to be hot and sexy, and therefore deserved our hate?
    Let’s talk about Lois. She’s morphed from moralizing, nice, even-tempered mom (a sterotype I also hate) to a raging, “slutty”, amoral bitch. When she becomes mayor she abandons all her values for a fur coat (bitches are so materialistic!) She gets insulted by her husband and son but is always too deaf/stupid to call them out on it. She gets fat and Peter-PETER!-abuses her for it, despite being twice her size even fat. They don’t keep her consistent at all.
    Then there’s those rape links. Just wrong. I mean, did he actually HAVE to add the whole “maybe you shouldn’t have led him on” bit at the end? You DO know that largely victims are still blamed for their own rapes in our culture, right?

    So, I guess what I’ve proved here is…don’t outgeek me? Seriously. There’s always someone like “it’s a jooooke you humorless, psycho, slutty, inconsistenly characterized woman!”

  • Bree

    Accounting Ninja brings it (and John, gotta say, you asked for it)

  • Patrick

    It’s pretty obvious that MacFarlane has been more hostile towards women on “FG” over the last several years. I’m not defending nor excusing this practice, but I’d like to point out that those dual-airbags known as Trey Parker and Matt Stone have done something similar on “South Park” in regards to anyone who doesn’t tow the Fox News line over the last several years in their level of vitriol– sometimes intimating that leftists are dangerous and deserve vile (and sometimes lethal) fates (“Die! Hippie Die!” being a prevalent example. But, hey, that’s “a-ok”. Because, somehow it’s okay to target this group of human beings over here because they’re on a lower level on the Social Protection Scale–and don’t tell me that there’s no such thing as politically motivated violence. But if they were aiming this vitriol at women–feminists the country-over would be having heart attacks and strokes from outrage. Because nobody can be as hateful at a given target than Parker and Stone–and that’s a scientific fact. MacFarlane is a kitten in comparison to those to pit vipers.

    But, I’m not against *equal* opportunity offensive humor, because everyone should be made fun of EQUALLY. No one and no group should be exempt from getting knocked off their high horse once in a while. But, MacFarlane and P&S can no longer claim “Equal Opportunity Offender” status if they’re going to whale on a single target mercilessly and give everyone else relative kid-gloves treatment.

    The question we should ask ourselves, would the hateful gags at women be as shocking, if it was balanced out with equally hateful gags at males? It’s something to think about…

  • Accounting Ninja

    Sorry, but the left vs. right thing doesn’t bother me as much, because we don’t have centuries of oppression, misrepresentation and bullshit assumptions about half the population there like with sexism. Sexism and racism will always be more offensive, because they are institutional and have a richly horrid history. And they are still going on.

    Also, being female or black is noticeable on the outside. People can start discriminating the moment they see you. With political affiliation, you at least have to open your mouth and start talking before people start to hate you. And you can’t change your gender or race, but politics are just ideas that can change.

    Political groups change with the times. In 50 or 100 years, will we be able to tell the “liberals” from the “conservatives”?

    I’m a fairly liberal lady, and some of the things Stone and Parker say make me roll my eyes, but it doesn’t carry the same taint that subtle (or overt!) racism or sexism carries.

    For the record, I thought the violence of Die Hippy Die was tasteless. I will say that SP’s more “realistic” violence lately turns me off. Part of what was so funny about the violence in the old eps was that the crappy cardboard “blood” made it funnier. Now it’s unsettling (like the one with Butter’s in the Dance Off…brr!) I enjoy SP on the whole but they aren’t all winners. But to be fair, they also make fun of the types of conservative that liberals might: the bible-thumping homophobe or rednecks telling people if they don’t like America* they should just “git out”. Trey and Matt have taken potshots at both sides of the camp, though I would agree with you that they fall right of center.

    (note: it is late. previous post may be incoherent. Apologies!)

    *like MAJ. Why DO you hate America? ;P

  • Victor Plenty

    Wow, Ninja. If “incoherent” is what you’d call that, remind me never to go up against you in a formal debate when you’re feeling fully awake and alert.

  • Paul

    I do think in 50 years we’ll be able to tell the liberals from conservatives. The liberals will be trying to make the world a better place and the conservatives will be trying to stop them; the issues may have moved as they do, but the basic format will have stayed the same.

    Having said that, I do think American politics would be better represented by four political parties instead of two. There would be the economically conservative/socially liberal, the economically liberal/socially conservative (blacks and labor unions), the Christian Party (the Christian right), and an expanded Green Party made up of environmentalists, academics, proud feminists, and the gay rights movement. I say the “proud feminists” because there are also the “I’m not a feminist but” types who like using the benefits of feminism but don’t want to call themselves feminists and they would be scattered through the other three parties. The uneasy alliances these four groups have made to be in two parties makes for some very odd politics.

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