Take a look at Family Guy. At the center of the show is an overweight, dimwitted, and somewhat xenophobic, homophobic, racist type of character. True, Peter’s characterization changes every episode to fit with the gags, but fans of the show can attest that Peter’s bigotry has shone through time and time again, usually ending with laughs. This isn’t me trying to dissect Family Guy or criticize it for these portrayals because I admit, the show makes me laugh and it’s quality satire at times.
But the question remains; what is it about it on TV that makes us laugh that makes us cringe in real life? I don’t have any more answers than the rest of the TV watching public do and I’m not going to pretend like I do. There’s this weird way that was, as an audience, identify with television characters more than we do our own our day to day life. Hell, half of the country invests more time, money, and energy into their television viewing habits than their politics. There’s just something more alluring about the escapism of the sitcom and more importantly, the closure at the end of every episode. There’s no way around it, you don’t get that kind of closure in your day to day life.
Still, and I apologize dear readers (all 5 of you), but it’s time for me to get back on my high horse. If we wanna laugh at Peter Griffin or Stan Smith making a gross generalization about Middle Easterners or Jews or gays, I get it. But then I look to the real world and people like Sarah Palin and it’s so disturbing that at first glance I could’ve sworn that it was a Seth McFarlane joke. For those of you who aren’t quite sure what I’m talking about, I provide you with proof positive that Sarah Palin is in no way, shape, or form fit to govern.
Any person in the public eye (not even limiting this to politicians) has a duty to be aware of the power they have. Unfortunately, Sarah Palin is both unaware, but also pretty much blindly worshipped by some Republicans. Is there a single reader out there that doesn’t think that there’s at least one person out there who would be willing to kill for Sarah Palin? Maybe I have no faith in America, but yes, I am legitimately concerned that there are some people out there whose lives have been endangered by Palin’s irresponsibility.
What does this have to do with where I started? What’s this got to do with TV shows like Family Guy and American Dad? I enjoy them both, but when reality (or at least Sarah Palin’s version of it) becomes so ludicrous that it’s difficult to tell the difference between the absurdity of the real world and the hilarity of sitcom life, I get a little nervous. This isn’t the fault of the creators of television, as many might like to believe, but this is a desperate plea for people to get up and get out. Turn off your TVs for an hour or two, or even just change the goddamn channel to the news every so often. It doesn’t matter how you do it, but get informed. Get involved. Because when things get so bad that fact starts to sound like fiction, it’s time for people to start making some changes.