Monday, May 10, 2010

I Don't Get It.

I've only seen a few episodes of Family Guy, but it has always made me laugh really hard so I guess I'd say I'm a fan. There's been a bit of a stink in the gay blogs today about the recent episode where Quagmire's father turns out to be a transsexual woman. Apparently on The Cleveland Show (Seth McFarlane's other show) there was a similar episode recently which also caused a stink, so the community is not inclined to be forgiving this time. But McFarlane claims not to be "transphobic".

I'm inclined to give an artist a lot of leeway in these things, and it seems to me that the folks who get all bent out of shape in these cases are too easily offended, or just maybe irony-deficient. Often the problem is that people will have a hard time distinguishing between a story in which the audience is asked to sympathize with the haters and a story in which the audience is asked to laugh at them.

As McFarlane has pointed out, in this episode of Family Guy, the transwoman is definitely portrayed sympathetically. She's really the only sane, stable character in the story. The humor is in everyone around her freaking out. So far, no problem.

But when we get to the part where the dog finds out he's had sex with her and he vomits for like a minute solid, I'm lost. And then Quagmire finds out that the dog has had sex with her, and he beats the shit out of the dog. Both of these scenes are interminable, and I have to admit, to me, perplexing. Though I'm inclined to be sympathetic to McFarlane, I don't know where to begin deciphering what his point of view is in these last two scenes, because I don't understand why they're funny.

I wondered at first if the reason it didn't make me laugh is because I'm the butt of the joke, so instead of being tickled I'm offended. (There are many in the GLBT community who say that homosexual and transsexual are two different things. I'm not one of those people. But even if you believe they are, the scene where Quagmire tries to explain that his father is not gay but "a woman trapped in a man's body," and Peter and Lois say, "Yeah, gay," encapsulates most straight people's view that there's gay and then there's trans, which is just more gay.)

But I can't even say I'm offended -- I just really don't know what's going on. I'm not clear enough on what McFarlane is saying to know whether or not I should be offended.

Are regular folks so completely repulsed by the idea of having sex with a transwoman that they would identify with someone vomiting forever over it? And the beating the dog gets, I don't even have a guess on that one. Somebody help me out here.

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