Sarah Palin vs. "Family Guy": Which side are you on?
Yet regardless of how you might feel about Sarah Palin's politics, the topic of Down syndrome doesn't really get me in a "har, har" mood. When you consider that we're also talking about a child with Down syndrome, well, I become even more disturbed.
Here's the background in case you've missed the headline grabbing spat.
In a Facebook posting headlined “Fox Hollywood — What a Disappointment,” Palin, whose youngest son, Trig, has Down syndrome, said Sunday night’s "Family Guy" episode felt like “another kick in the gut.” The episode features the character Chris falling for a girl with Down syndrome. On a date, he asks what her parents do.
She replies: “My dad’s an accountant, and my mom is the former governor of Alaska.”
"Those in the special needs community truly are some of the most loving and compassionate people in the world," Palin later said on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor." "So why pile it onto them and make their lives even that much more challenging?"
Look, I'm not an easily offended individual, and based on Sarah Silverman's recent flap about use of the word "retard," apparently there's a PC vs. un-PC debate playing out that's meant to somehow keep a subversive level of comedy alive.
But when it comes to Seth MacFarlane's "Family Guy" using a Down syndrome character to make a dig at the Palin family, well, is that even funny? Perhaps if "Family Guy" had addressed Palin's hypocritical sidestep of Rush Limbaugh's "retard" fixation, there'd be an actual point to make. Or maybe if the "Family Guy" character in question was actually supposed to be Trig, it might have made sense.
So while I don't find the actual joke or premise offensive, I do find the idea of jabbing at the Palin family when it serves no greater purpose other than to say -- "Hey, they have a kid with Down syndrome" -- rather ridiculous. Or to make a "Seinfeld"-ian analogy, it's like when Tim Whatley converts to Judaism just so he can tell jokes about Jewish people -- except his punchlines offend Jerry, not as a Jewish person, but as a comedian.
"South Park" makes intelligent points all the time with controversial or seemingly off-limits topics. And even more important, they're usually hilarious. Now, in fairness to "Family Guy," I didn't watch the whole episode -- so maybe they shed a positive light on Down syndrome in some capacity, as well.
But that's not really the issue here. Was this particular use of the Palin name either a) funny or b) constructive? I'd say no on both counts.
If you find this dig at the Palin family comical, I'd honestly be interested to know why. If you're highly offended that any of this is even up for discussion, also feel free to leave a comment. (Yes, I know that "Family Guy" is in the business of courting controversy, but again, do it with some purpose ...)
Here's the clip in question:
-- Thomas Rozwadowski, email@example.com