Being a fan of Family Guy, I read this piece from Jessica @ feministing back in October:
The most recent episode, I Dream of Jesus, featured this conversation with Peter and a waiter (Peter is trying to get the waiter to give him a jukebox record he likes):
Peter: Can I have that record? I love that song. I’ll let you have sex with my daughter…
Waiter: I don’t know…let’s see what your daughter looks like.
P: She’s…uhh…(pans past Meg to “hot” girl)…right there!
W: Ok, I’ll do her. But can you tell her to cry and beg me to stop?
P: I think that can be arranged.
And this isn’t the first time the show has made light of violence against women. Usually, I’d consider Family Guy one of my (Un)Feminist guilty pleasures, but I think I have to cut the show off completely. Sigh.
More below the fold (warning, possibly triggering):
This upset me greatly, but I kept watching. How could I miss the antics of Stewie and Brian when the show so obsviously revels in pushing every single social envelope it can find? Then I saw the episode with the aqua-man rape scene:
Generally, as with most things, I try to enjoy the good in the show, and when something that offends me occurs I try to think “yes, it’s offensive, but the rest of the show’s good. I can overlook this.” Tonight’s episode, however, was inexcusable.
Tonight, a character on the show said, “this is as useless as Aquaman,” and then cut to a scene of a woman being raped, with Aquaman standing idly by.
Let me repeat that.
A woman was raped for comedic effect.
The scene is incredibly graphic. The woman is being held down, tears streaming down her face, and crying for help. When she cries out “help! he’s hurting me!” aqua man replies “Well maybe you shouldn’t have led him on”:
Finally in the episode Movin’ Out (Brian’s Song), (viewable now on adult swim) and advertisement for the Simpsons on Fox, Quagmire attempts to rape Marge while she fights back:
This is vile. At no point is this funny. Quagmire tackles Marge, they struggle (with Marge looking terrified at points), and then he chases her off screen with his pants down.
Do the creators of Family Guy and the Simpons find rape that funny? Do they think rape sells?
Every Fox employee involved in this bullshit should be made to copy down lines until they can recite this post by Jeffrey Rowland by rote (emphasis mine):
Let’s talk about rape for a moment. Rape is not what George Lucas did to your childhood. Rape is not what happens when a sports team beats another sports team by a wide margin. Rape is not what happens when your electric bill is higher this month than it was last month. Rape is when a person violates another person in the most despicable, degrading way imaginable and among the myriad of terrible things humans can do to one another, rape is among the worst. I think the casual misappropriation of the concept of rape extending all the way to its widespread comical usage is disgusting even by Internet standards. Off my chest.
There is always a line of taste in comedy, and the comics job is to step over that line and break new ground. A good comic should make us uncomfortable. To paraphrase Adrian Veidt from Watchmen, a great comedian “opens your eyes” to the truth. What truth do they arrive at by showing rape scenes as often and as graphic as they do?
Considering this, I’m left with questions. With a country as obsessed with sexuality and violence as ours, why is violent depiction of rape ok in a cartoon? Is it because the characters didn’t actually get naked? Because they stopped tastefully before the actual penetration? How come we alter cartoons and ban music videos that might cause epileptic symptoms, but don’t consider the effects of airing triggering footage unexpectedly in a cartoon?
Rape, like murder and torture, is a part of life. For a show like Family Guy to depict it in some fashion is expected (People have been murdered and such throughout the show’s broadcast history). The repeated and gratuitous depiction of sexual violence is far past the point of good humor and good taste. But using rape in a fucking ad for the Simpons? I’m left wondering what Fox could have been thinking when they approved this.
Parentstv has a useful contact page for reaching Fox.
UPDATE: I had actually stopped watching at that point, apparently the Simpsons ad continues where Marge and Quagmire walk back on screen. Marge has just been raped, and Quagmire says “See, that’s wasn’t so bad was it?” and Marge says “Oooh, I gotta say, that was fantastic!”. They then decide on round two. What the fuck?