Monday, November 26, 2012

On Edge: Family Guy

    Family Guy is one of the most successful running animated series in history. Over time it eventually earning nominations  for 12 Primetime Emmy Awards and 11 Annie Awards, having won won three of each. In 2009, it was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series, the first time an animated series was nominated for the award since The Flintstones in 1961. However this show did not always have it so seemingly easy and some people might say the same for today.

    After the third season of Family Guy aired in 2001, Fox decided to cancel the series and go separate ways. Since its re-birth on the network in 2004, Family Guy has stepped up their game and changed the image of the series with the aid of filthier jokes, appalling gestures, and even alluring edgy topics. Family Guy has received criticism over recent topics like Family Guy has received criticism over recent topics like abortion, weed, existence of god, and Down syndrome. The creator of the show Seth McFarlane addressed the actively mad viewers stating “People in America, they’re getting dumber. They’re getting less and less able to analyze something and think critically, and pick apart the underlying elements”. 

    Although the show often generates questions and controversy to its record it is clear that this concept of edgy content is exactly what enables the production to express alternate perspectives on greater topics of politics, important public interests, and federal regulation. Hitting such concerned ideas makes it inevitable for the show to receive attention from a wide audience, whether fans or not.  Faced with increasing competition with other programs meant that “edge” became a new vital tool for survival within the realm of what Curtin defined as Fordism.  Rather than attempting to attract only the largest viewer group, Family Guy encompasses tools such as pop-culture and politics combined with edgy content to attract different demographics, thus creating a broader audience base in the greater picture.

     Now, does this model of added edge unite or divide us as a society? There’s no straight answer simply because there will always be the potential to do either. Series that create risky content will always have to do just that, take a creative risk. Some people will always get offended when you make a joke or bring up a silly stereotype. The thing that these producers look at is whether the risk is good enough to take, that is, is the turnout of a greater audience worth this small amount of criticism? 

The answer is more often than not, yes. Pertaining to viewership, the question of separation or unity amongst a society cannot be determined directly from one specific media text, rather it can highlight the dissection of a demographic within a demographic. There have always been groups of people that are attracted to the edge of entertainment and people that are separated by the rejection of such methods. Looking at a specific media text like Family Guy helps us see the intersecting lines that exist between these different demographics within our modern day society.


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