The above is the multi-talented Seth MacFarlane, creator of Family Guy, American Dad, and The Cleveland Show, among others. While his creations are incredibly popular they also attract a far amount of controversy for their commentary about society. Crass, outrageous, inappropriate, hilarious, satirical, and genius are all words that have been used to describe shows such as Family Guy. The show is a little misunderstood, I think. Yes, there are times I am watching it that I go “whoa, did they just say/do that?”. But that’s what makes it funny, it’s the most unexpected things that make you laugh. In his own words, MacFarlane says that Family Guy “holds a mirror up to society and says, ‘we don’t like a lot of what you’re doing'”. If you look a little deeper under that toilet humour, you’ll see someone saying: you may think that clip is funny, you may think it’s outrageous; that’s good, because sadly there are people who actually, for real, believe things like that. Musings about homosexuality, racial differences and women’s rights may be commonly made fun of or sent up in Family Guy, but they are really reflective of a deeper social thought about these issues that aren’t so funny.
Today I came across a video about the best and worst of female media representation in 2013, and how there have been triumphs (Jennifer Lawrence playing strong and independent Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire; high numbers of Emmy nominations for women in directing roles) but also some serious failures (women in demeaning commercials for fast food restaurants, Robin Thicke’s controversial Blurred Lines).
One of the other “failures” was Seth hosting the Oscars and performing a musical number entitled “We Saw Your Boobs” listing female actresses and films where this was the case. After the fact it caused a lot of controversy, being described as anti-feminist and in poor taste. This is where I’m going to draw the line. Look, it may have been a little crass and a little edgy but nothing that was said was untrue. It was a movie, and yes, we saw that particular actress’ breasts. They let that happen, they were okay with it, and their movies were mostly excellent. Why is that particularly offensive? I can see how it could be taken that way, or seen as a little shocking at such a prestigious event as the Oscars. But really it was fairly harmless. If you can’t have that, if you can’t laugh at something, then society and political correctness really have sucked the fun out of EVERYTHING. Because Seth MacFarlane’s “We Saw Your Boobs” or Family Guy is not the biggest threat to women in society.
The fact that in 2014, there is still a disparity between men and women’s wages for the exact same job. The fact that women can expect to retire with less superannuation than men. The fact that some employers still think it’s okay, despite the Fair Work Act, to discriminate against women because they may require more time off due to pregnancy or even menstrual problems. This is the threat facing us as modern women, this is what you should be outraged about, rather than Seth MacFarlane. The Australian Council of Trade Unions estimates that women in full time work earn 18% less than men, or approximately $1 million less over a lifetime. Also, female graduates earn, on average, $2000 less than male graduates and $7500 less five years after graduation.
Now I am more than happy to entertain the idea that perhaps Family Guy may not be helpful, and could reinforce the stereotypes that lead to this disparity. But it is likely that this isn’t the case. It’s likely to be long engrained ideas about women in society that leads to this. My overall point is that as a woman, as a father, brother, or friend of a woman, you should be concerned about this. Some should spend less time worrying about things like television shows they disapprove of (which you could just not watch, and stop bitching about), and worrying about the inequality that still exists in society. How do we have this conversation with our daughters, as parents or when we one day become parents? How do you tell a little girl that she is as good as any boy in her class, but that she will likely earn less money than them when she grows up? Let’s make that something we don’t have to tell our daughters. Let’s focus on changing these statistics and finally closing the pay gap in every industry, making wages about experience, qualifications and job achievements.
Peace, Love and Buffy,