Did ‘Family Guy’ go too far?

Last week, the hit FOX show, Family Guy, satirized a case of Domestic Violence. The show has come under very heavy criticism for taking it ‘too far’ (See ‘Showbiz Tonight’ Clip), and after watching half of the episode (I couldn’t really handle watching the entire thing), I would have to agree. While the writers of Family Guy have pushed the envelope on many issues and topics, flirting with that fine line between satire and profane, this time they not only perpetuated many myths about domestic violence (abusers are alcoholics, uneducated, jobless deadbeats and the victim is a stupid, weak person that enables such behavior or ‘likes it’), but they also fail to offer any real or useful tools for bystanders to intervene or offer support in a safe way.

The episode begins with Quagmire in the hospital. His sister, Brenda, and her abusive boyfriend, Jeff, go to see him. The verbal abuse and put downs begin immediately and the rest of the group simply looks on. Later in the show, the other characters try to offer support, but end up only victim blaming. The end solution is to kill Jeff (because abuse isn’t a learned behavior and people can’t unlearn the controlling behaviors – sarcasm). What was most disturbing to me was that through out the episode, Peter made jokes that not only continued to reinforce stereotypes and perpetuated myths, but were also abusive and derogatory towards the victim. While I know being upset and outraged will not accomplish anything, I still am. The advocate in me says there’s a teachable moment here, and an opportunity for a dialogue. But where to start?

When you see a piece of media that is particularly outrageous, how do you break it down? Where can we begin dissecting this web of opportunity?

Want more thoughts on the Family Guy episodes? Check out Opt4!

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