Racism is an issue that has dogged the human society for many years. While the media is a tool that is meant to communicate to the members of the society, it has at one time or another been used as a means of setting up unduly perceptions from individuals are well as group of people. Racial references are common in the mainstream media (Downing, 2008). . There are many programs in today’s media which have been said to be racial. There are also other programs which deal with the issue of race as a means of trying to discourage it (Naureckas, 1995). . One of the programs that has elicited much debate regarding its messages is the popular “Family Guy”
Race is a very sensitive subject across different societies; and as it would be expected, it is bound to draw a lot of controversy whenever it arises. The portrayal of some members of the human society being superior or inferior to others is an issue that has made many people question the ethics of the animated program “Family Guy”. Of much interest in this program is the lewd remarks made by some of the characters, notably Brian about Black people.
This paper will focus on the extent to which the TV show Family guy has dealt with the race issue. The characters in this program do not shy away from expressing themselves ‘racially” (Naureckas, 1995). . The main point of including racial connotations in the dialogue of the characters was for entertainment purposes. The dialogue was also included so that people could stop being too racial. However, a lot has emerged from all the racial aspects as portrayed on the program.
The Family guy program has in the past been voted as the worst program meant for prime time family viewing (Boswell, 2008). . One of the reasons why it attained such status was due to what was termed as “absolute racism”. However, it is my belief that the program is not at all racial, not in the negative sense. The “racism” in the program is meant to be educative, not insulting.
Racial comments on family guy
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There are several instances where the characters in the program have used racial references to get their points home. Here is a breakdown of some of those instances:
Incident 1(Digg.com, 2007). :
Chris: “Um, Mr. Doctor, if you get shot in a rap feud, can you perform surgery on yourself? “
Puff Daddy: “Well, no, Chris, my degree is in optometry.”
Puff Daddy is a top rap artiste, he is black and he has also been involved in a number of shooting incidences. The question that Chris asks the Puff Daddy in the program is stereotypical. Blacks, and most importantly, black musicians, have been connected to shootouts in the past. Yet this question brings out a sense in which all black artists engage in violent acts.
However, this kind of thought cannot be blamed entirely on the people who propagate it. The blacks themselves are also to blame. It is true that there have been many cases of violence in the black rap industry. Blacks against their fellow blacks is seen and accepted as a normal way of life. No wonder stereotypes such as the one witnessed in the above excerpt are so common in America.
Incident 2 (White, 2008).
Chris: What do you do at a Young Republicans meeting?
Alyssa: We help those who already have the means to help themselves. Also, we perpetuate the idea that Jesus chose America to destroy non-believers and brown people.
Chris: I don't know why, but I feel safer already.
These comments are very reflective on how non-whites are viewed by many Americans. Chris says that he feels safer already after hearing that young Republicans perpetuate “the idea that Jesus chose America to destroy non-believers and brown people”. This is a very wrong way of thinking, and it shows just how much racism is entrenched in the minds of some people.
It is like the white people would not want to see any kind of good happening to anyone who is not of their race. In Christian teachings, Jesus came for the sake of all of mankind, not for some people among people. In Family Guy, it is like some people think that Jesus should only be concerned about a section of humanity and disregard the rest, especially the black people.
Many people might be inclined to think that Republicans are anti-blacks. However, this is very far from the truth. There are some blacks who are members and supporters of the republican party, are they anti-black too? This remark by Alyssa just shows how ignorant racists are.
Incident 3 (eBaum’s World, 2008). :
Stewie: What kind of a man would I be if I ran off now?
Brian: Well, you’d be a black man.
Brian is usually very biased against black people, and the above excerpt is just one of the many instances where he makes sadistic anti-blacks comments. In this dialogue, you can see that he sees blacks as cowards or looses, people who never make it in life.
This is not unlike how many people in America think. The Black community has been associated with anything that is bound to fail. This is not the way it is. Actually there are many Black people who are very successful in the US, even the current president has some Black background. Black people have been associated with failure for so long, that the idea seems to be permanently entrenched in the minds of some people.
Incident 4 (Digg.com, 2007).
Brian: (talking to Puff Daddy) Oh, God. Sorry….Sorry….Sorry. Oh, my God. That….that is not me. That's not who I am. I vote Democrat. Uh…it will not happen again. W-We cool? We good?”
Brian: “You, uh, y-you guys know I have no problem with black people, right?”
Peter, Lois, Chris, Meg & Stewie: Oh, yeah, sure. Yeah, yeah, sure.”
Stewie: “Well, you did say you hated Crooklyn”
During this excerpt, Brian was barking very fiercely when he saw Puff daddy. He probably thought that he was just another black man passing by. However, when he saw that it was the famous Puff Daddy, he began to apologize, saying that he loved the democrats when in fact he hates all blacks with a passion. Even the other characters know that Brian is a serious racist.
Significance of These Racial Comments
All the racial dialogue in the program “Family Guy” has some kind of significance. The issue is how this significance affects the viewers. Many of the viewers definitely notice the racial comments present in the program, but not all of them take it the same way (Boswell, 2008). There are many anti-black comments by several of the characters, most especially Brian.
It is not very uncommon to hear similar comments on the streets in the US. For some people, it is just a way of expressing how they feel towards other people. Racism is deep seated in the culture of America, and to get rid of it, people have to accept their role in ending it. Racism is actually born out of ignorance, as seen in the program “Family Guy”. These ignorance needs to go if anything tangible is going to come from the efforts from different quarters to fight racism.
The big question that emerges from these seemingly controversial programs is whether people change for the better after watching it (Naureckas, 1995). The ‘racial dialogue is meant to be educative, but does everyone realize that? According to the producers of the program, the dialogue is the way it is so that people can open their eyes to the reality of racism.
In a poll carried out by CNN, a majority of Americans believed that racism is deeply entrenched in the country. However, what stood out very clearly was the fact that people saw the other race as the one which was being racist (CNN, 2006, December 12). This is very interesting because it shows that people are not ready to accept that they have a problem.
In other words, they choose to see a dust particle in other people’s eyes when they themselves have logs in theirs. The characters in Family guy are good examples on how Americans blame racism on other people without looking at themselves first. This is probably the root of the problem and it needs to be addressed.
The producers of “Family Guy probably never intended to hurt anybody’s feelings when they included racial connotations in the program (Naureckas, 1995). However, the fact remains that not all people take it as a joke when their ethnicity is made fun of. Some people take it very seriously and this may widen the racial gap that is already there in the country.
However, if the program is watched with a completely open mind, it is possible to see that these comments that are deemed to be racial can actually be very educative (Boswell, 2008). . As much as the comments are made as jokes, some people do not grasp the full meaning of the conversations. Family Guy has tried to deal with the issue of racism, but the way it deals with it does not auger well with a section of the viewers. They see the program as just another way through which people spew out racial comments for the sake of it.
The media and the materials projected through its programs are a true reflection of society (Downing, 2008). For instance, the program “Family Guy” would not have some racial comments if there was no racism in society. However, this does not mean that the media should be used as a platform through which racism is propagated. It should rather be used to preach unity and a sense of peaceful co-existence among people from different racial backgrounds. I believe that is what Family Guy is trying to portray thorough its “racial” characters.
Perhaps a bit of public sensitization could help people realize what the program is all about. Viewers take offence because they do not fully understand just what the characters represent. When people understand the message that is being put across, even by characters such as Brian, then maybe it will easier to deal with racism.
Another thing that comes out in Family guy is that people do not always accept their faults. They choose to blame others even when they are part of the problem. Just like in the CNN report (CNN, 2006, December 12), there is widespread racism, it is just that people see it only in others, never in themselves.
Many viewers concur with the conclusion that family guy is one of the few programs in the US that is bold enough to take the issue of racism by the horns. The fact that “Family Guy” has such a wide fan base just shows how much it can change the racial situation in America. Instead of demonizing the program, people should be thankful that it is there. There should be many more programs that can do the same thing Family Guy does.
The electronic media, especially TV, should play its role in sensitizing people on the wrongs of racism (Balkaran, 1999). The program does not have to be animated, but the message should be similar: racism is wrong. With time, people will learn to react to the programs in a positive way, and not jump into the wrong conclusions about the intended message.
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