Where Are Those Good Ol’ Fashioned Values? Reception Analysis of the Offensive Humor on Family Guy
Operant Subjectivity , Volume 37 - Issue 1/2 p. 23- 40
Over the last ten years, Family Guy has made its mark by pushing the envelope as an equal opportunity offender. For the writers, no subject is too sacred. This study examines how the key demographic for the cartoon (viewers age 18-24), a group that has grown up immersed in political correctness, read the value, meaning and intent of the show. The study uses Q methodology to extract several readings of the show. Four factors emerged from the study. The first factor reads the show as an intelligent critique on society that demystifies stereotypes by bringing its absurdities to light. The second represents a view of the show as low-brow humor aiming to make the viewer uncomfortable, but not as a product of bigotry. The third reads the show as a guilty pleasure, dismissing it as a silly cartoon, while understanding why people are often offended by it. The final factor reflects a perspective that reads the show as perpetuating the wrong message about minorities by turning sensitive issues into a joke. The article further discusses the characteristics of each perspective and the implications for audience studies and the acceptance of offensive speech.