Family Guy and Freud
Although many viewers jump to harsh conclusions about certain programs, they simply may need to open their minds to see the important messages being shared. Antonia Peacocke, author of “Family Guy and Freud”, was once turned off by the humor that is Family Guy. It’s likely that she is not the only person who would change the channel immediately, to ensure not a second’s worth of ratings go to this program which is notorious for its crude humor. However, many viewers continue to stay glued to this television program, utilizing their ability to think outside the box and appreciate the show’s content. After Peacocke’s brother and everyone else she knew were watching it religiously, she decided to give it a chance (260). Much to her surprise, she found herself embracing it’s humor and paying closer attention to the creators’ intentions. If you have ever watched Family Guy, you were probably offended by something at one point in time; after all, from the naked eye, it can come off as rude and distasteful. However, if we enhance our perception and take a deeper look into the humor portrayed on the show, we can see that it draws on real-life situations faced by society everyday.
One episode described in Peacocke’s essay features a mock 1950’s instructional video portraying women in the workplace.. It shows a businessman speaking into the camera describing how to make sure women feel comfortable in the workplace. He says to make sure you tell them how good they look and that nothing says “good job!” like a firm open-palm slap on the behind (260). It’s obvious that some people are going to find this skit sexist, given its discernible knocks on female workers. However, when enhancing our perception and thinking outside the box, it’s clear that this skit is not putting women down, but rather mocking how women were once treated in the workplace and the odd normalcies of the 1950’s.
Peacocke spoke of author George Will and offered her views on his piece entitled “Bart Simpson: Prince of Irreverence.” She agrees with Will that there are definitely times when creators do cross the line of decency. She does not agree with his statement that “entertainment seeking a mass audience is ratcheting up the violence, sexuality, and degradation, becoming increasingly coarse and trying to be…shocking in an unshockable society (266). She believes that the Family Guy humor is intelligent and that the coarse scenes have hidden merit.
If Peacocke were to read Dana Stevens’ essay called “Thinking Outside the Idiot Box,” she may relate this article to an episode of Family Guy where Brian and Stewie are discussing Stewie’s obsession with the Oprah Winfrey Book Club. In this episode, the creators were cleverly attempting to point out America’s obsession with celebrities and television, and less willing to admit doing so. This insightful part of the episode goes hand in hand with Stevens’ thesis that America is not getting any smarter because of TV. Stevens believes that watching TV teaches us to want to watch more TV, which is exactly what Stewie intends to do while waiting for Oprah to announce the next book in the book club.
There have been several episodes of Family Guy that have been misunderstood by many, and it’s caused the show to be cancelled twice (258). Viewers fought back against the cancellations and the program was brought back with a vengeance. Despite its questionable delivery, one fact remains true: Family Guy exposes true aspects of American culture. Peacocke firmly believes that we should stop dwelling on the controversy and start focusing on what the show is trying to tell us (261). There is so much more than what meets the eye.
Peacocke, Antonia. "Family Guy and Freud: Jokes and their relation to the unconscious." They Say I Say. Comp. Gerald Greff, Cathy Berkenstein, Russel Durst. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2009. Print
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