28 October 2012
A Critique of Family Guy and Freud: Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious
As Antonia Peacocke quotes in her essay, “The show Family Guy is one of the first in history that has been canceled not just once, but twice” (300-301). The show was brought back in August 2000 and again in July 2001 when fans could not get enough of the adult cartoon. As well as being a fan favorite, Family Guy is also a controversial topic for critics all over the world. In the essay, “Family Guy and Freud: Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious”, Antonia Peacocke analyzes the show and gives her reasons why it is not all negative and crude humor. Antonia Peacocke is a student at Harvard University. She is also a National Merit Scholar, and has won awards such as the Catherine Fairfax MacRae prize for Excellence in both English and Mathematics. She was asked to write this essay specifically for the book They Say, I say: with readings. The Peacocke’s main point of her entire essay is that she wants to let readers know why Family Guy is not a bad show, in her and others opinions, but one that has been criticized for solely bringing entertainment. Peacocke does a successful job in portraying this, but it is not completely clear until the end, where her thesis can be found. The very last sentence of the essay is her thesis: “While I love Family Guy as much as any fan, it’s important not to lose sight of what’s truly unfunny in real life – even as we appreciate what is hilarious in fiction” (Peacocke 308). Peacocke’s thesis could be a little more clear throughout her essay, therefore, I do not feel it is as effective as it could be, but the author clearly states her argument and presents her case.
Peacocke starts the essay of by saying, “ Before I was such a devotee, however, I was adamantly opposed to the program for its particular brand of humor” (Peacocke 300). She makes it clear her feelings about the show in the very beginning. Although she is a fan, she at one time disliked the show. She quotes Stephen Dubner, co-author of Freakonomics, as saying “a cartoon comedy that packs more gags per minute about race, sex, incest, bestiality, etc. than any other show [he] can think of” (Peacocke 300). She backs up her one time opinions by saying “It will come as no surprise that I was not alone in this view; many still denounce Family Guy as bigoted and crude” (Peacocke 300). Although the show is currently very successful, she says “It must be one of the few shows in television history that has been canceled not only once, but twice… The show ran until August 2000, but was besieged by so many complaints…that Fox shelved it until July 2001” (Peacocke 300). Also, she says, “I must admit, I can see how parts of the show might seem offensive if taken at face value” (Peacocke 302). At one point Peacocke realized, “ [I found myself] forced to give Family Guy a chance. It was simply everywhere “ (Peacocke 302).
One of Peacocke’s main points is that Family Guy has gained much positive attention. On Facebook, as Peacocke explains, “there are 23 universal separate Family Guy groups with a combined membership of 1,669 people (compared with only 6 groups protesting against Family Guy, with 105 members total). Users of the well-respected Internet Movie Database rate the show 8.8 out of 10” (Peacocke 303). As you can see, “among the public and within the industry, the show receives fantastic acclaim; it has won eight awards, including three primetime Emmys” (Peacocke 303). Also, when the show was on the brink of cancellation, “ fans provided the brute source necessary to get it back on the air” (Peacocke 303). The more she was around the show, the more positively she viewed it. Peacocke then goes on to say that those who do not often watch the show, “could easily come to think that the cartoon takes pleasure in controversial humor just for its own sake” Peacocke 303).
The next main point that...