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Family guy and postmodernism


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Family guy and postmodernism

  1. 1. Family Guy is an American animated TV series, created by Seth McFarland for the channel FOX. It focuses on the Griffins, a dysfunctional family living in the fictional city of Quahog. The pilot was first shown in 1998 before being given the green light for production and it becoming hugely successful, despite being cancelled twice. The family consists of parents, Peter and Lois, children Chris and Meg, baby Stewie and the family dog Brian. The narrative for each episode is stand-alone, usually about the family's mishappenings with each other, their friends, or neighbours. At the end of the episode, the problem is solved and the family live on happily to suffer the next episode. Family Guy is full of media and pop culture references, pastiche and intertextuality are perhaps the most dominant postmodern traits within the show. These postmodern aspects are used to create humour, episodes feature a huge amount of references to virtually every subject possible, with its use of the technique of ‘a million gags a minute’.
  2. 2. Family guys target audience is older teenagers and young adults, as it often has inappropriate ad taboo topics and jokes. However, it appears the key target audience of family guy is people who lived in the 80’s, thus from around mid twenties to 40 years old, due to the frequent 80’s pop culture references made in the series. The show appeals to its loyal viewers through its many running gags and in jokes, that will only be meaningful to sections of its audience. An example of this is the evil the evil monkey in Chris’s bedroom that allow the audience to feel involved with the show. This is commonly used in postmodern texts in order to serve multiple audiences.
  3. 3. Family guy depicts a stereotypical nuclear, American working class family. The father Peter is shown as economically and culturally low class. He appears to adopt no clear political status. This is postmodern as it acknowledges all political ideology to be essentially relative and as a consequence, noone can claim pre-eminence. Many of the other characters are very stereotypical representations of different groups, sometimes to the extent they can be deemed racist and offensive to said groups. An example of this can be seen in Peters references to Asian women drives. The postmodern condition can be racist, sexist and homophobic, and all these are represented in the show. However they are shown in a light hearted jokey manner, thus are not directly intended to cause offence but for humour.
  4. 4. It has been suggested that McFarland’s characters are loosely based upon other animation characters. For example, if we take the character of family dog Brian he is distinctly similar to the famous character of Snoopy. This is not only visually evident through his white fur and black nose, but also in the way in which he interacts with people, participating in human activities though he is a dog.
  5. 5. The character of Stewie has also been argued to be influenced by a comic strip from 1991, as he bears a noticeable resemble to the character of Jimmy Corrigan : The Smartest Kid on Earth. Again they do not only look similar, particularly in their football shaped heads, but they also share extreme intelligence and dislike towards their mothers.
  6. 6. In addition, it has been speculated that Family Guy is a copy of famous cartoon The Simpsons, as they have a very similar set up and various other factors. This includes the family, consisting of a clumsy stupid father, a mother, a son, a daughter and a baby child. Furthermore, Homer Simpson and Peter Griffin are very alike in their personalities, being clumsy lazy and dim witted. This means the postmodern aspect of bricolage is featured in the TV series of Family Guy in every episode.
  7. 7. Family Guy is also well known for their parodies of the Star Wars franchise, with movies Blue Harvest, Something Something Something Dark Side and It’s a Trap. These still use the basic original story of Star Wars however feature the series characters, mock it, and much is replaced with their media mocking humour. All these movies are a pastiche of the original Star Wars films.
  8. 8. Trying to get back to their own universe, Stewie and Brian travel through many parallel dimensions. Each one is very different, and in each they also meet other versions of themselves in this different universe. Each universe also features a different style of animation and presentation. There therefore is a vast amount of parody and pastiche used in this episode throughout the different universes. There is much manipulation of time and space to create confusion, a very postmodern trait. There are many references even in the opening credits, where the family, especially Stewie and Brian are portrayed as a variety of different characters or situations. This includes Tolkins Lord of the Rings references, where Stewie takes on the character of Gollum and Brian Frodo, the whole family shown on the iconic Pacman video game Brian is playing where the other members are ghosts chasing pacman Stewie
  9. 9. Brian and Stewie enter the Disney universe; where ‘everything has been drawn by Disney’. This clip adopts the identifiable style that Disney creates in its animations, thus parodying the Disney franchise. It continues to do this by showing all the characters as happy and cheerful, even Stewie describes himself as feeling ‘al sweet and warm and fuzzy’. All of the Family Guy Characters make a reference back to different Disney movies or cartoons such as Snow White (with the many characters as woodland animals helping around the house) Joe being the talking pot from Beauty ad The Beast and The Little Mermaid, as Meg is shown as the evil sea witch Ursula. Furthermore the characters all burst into song, which is a typical aspect of classic Disney movies. However, the clip then continues to mock it, for example by taking advantage of the belief Walt Disney was a Nazi sympathiser, this is also postmodern as it is an example of the frequent black humour used in the show. Brian and Stewie enter the Disney universe http://www.yout v=asnfaG2JH8&featu re=related
  10. 10. Stewie and Brian later find themselves in a universe in which dogs are the dominant species over humans, and keep them as pets. This is a parody of the film The Planet of The Apes (Franklin Schaffner, 1968). Intertextuality arises when Stewie says ‘Take your stinking paws off me you damn dirty dog!’ making reference to a famous quote from the film.
  11. 11. They also enter a Flintstones universe, with Peter as Fred, which can be seen as somewhat ironic as it has previously been speculated that Peters character has been developed over time from Fred’s. They parody it by using ‘rock’ as every second word, often to conceal taboo or inappropriate words , this playful mocking of the show is very postmodern. Real life universe Robot chicken Universe – Here they take on yet the animation style, this time of the 2005 TV series Robot Chicken, a stop motion animation. One of the creators is Seth green, who plays the voice of Chris in Family Guy
  12. 12. The use of different universes creates confusion in not only Stewie and Brian but also the audience in regards to where the characters are. They are further confused as to the time, as some universes are furturistsic, some appear to be in the past (for example the Flintstones universe) and some appear to have no time at all. Almost every episode also follows a non linear narrative, especially through the use of comedic flash backs, there are usually at least 3 within the film. These often feature cartoon representations of famous people, personifications of objects and various other references to pop culture. It is also very cleverly ironic, especially in how it references other texts allowing the audience to emphasise with the joke.
  13. 13. This entire episode is presented in a very playful comedic manner, throughout the series there is much playfulness with realism. Much of the show seems plausible and create a sense of realism as it is a family going about their everyday lives. However, there are other aspects that reject this sense of realism for such as the fact Brian is a talking dog. Another is that despite being a baby Stewie is so intelligent that he is able to create a device to travel to alternate universes. This subversion of real life conventions are an important aspect of postmodern texts as they are rejecting the realist media texts where the narrative roles are shaped by accepted notions of how people would react and behave.
  14. 14. Lyotard’s theory of the rejection of metanarratives as part of the postmodern condition is evident throughout Family Guy. For example, in my chosen episode Brian and Stewie enter a universe where Christianity never existed. They arrive to find technology in this world to be hugely advanced implying that Christianity and the Church help back scientific progress. This open criticism of the metanarrative of religion is one of the key aspects of post modernity. There are many other examples throughout the show , such as God hitting on girls at bars and Jesus coming to dinner.