Political Guy

There has long been a strain of progressivism underlying "Family Guy" with Brian, the family dog, being the liberal conscience of the family.  This is unfortunate because it happens to be one of my favorite shows.  The most recent episode was the most political yet.  Not surprisingly, it was the furthest off the mark.  The show began with Peter operating his own jack-of-all-trades business from his home.  Ostensibly out of fear that he may hurt someone by doing bad business and explicitly because he didn't have the appropriate license, the city shut him down.  Peter's reaction was to join the Tea Party and bring and end to the city government.  This is where the realism of the show deteriorated.  The remainder of the show was devoted to an inaccurate caricature of the movement as more centralized, coherent and anarchistic than it truly is.   The incoherent nature of the Tea Party is made obvious by simply observing the diverse opinions of those who pretend to lead it.  I will grant creative license here and criticize no further - a realistic portrayal of squabbling within the movement would not make for an entertaining show.  I will however take umbrage with the anarchistic strain in Peter's Tea Party.

Few would argue that the Tea Party is considerably anti-government in general, but fewer still would argue that the movement is anarchistic, anti-all-government, at its base.  Rather, the movement favors less government or limited government and generally appeals to traditional limitations to its size and scope,  such as the federal constitution.  If the movement was consistently anarchistic, very few if any of its adherents would get involved in the political process at all.  Lest you think I am over interpreting the distinction here or giving to too much importance, note the scene where a dissenter, a man who holds a sign reading, "A little bit of government", is physically assaulted by the mob and presumably killed.  Similarly, a lone dissenting voice among the mob is later silenced via gunfire immediately prior to the dissolution of the city government.  A predictable and tired depiction of the breakdown of society - due to the lack of city governance mind you - then followed including such statist fear mongering as the garbage piling up, chaos on the roads, planes falling out of the sky and riots in the streets.

Perhaps, you say, I should not derive deep political meaning from the raunchiest cartoon on television.   This line of thinking is betrayed by the fact that the conclusion of the show is devoted to making a strong, albeit simple, statement about the morality and practicality of democracy.  The program was not just poking fun at everyone for the hell of it as it usually does and which I usually enjoy.  There was clearly the intention of a distinctly political message - a moral of the story so to speak.

So let's recap the strategy:

  1. Create a farcical situation in which the main character, the show's biggest boob, gets involved with a political movement you disagree with.
  2. Misrepresent the positions of that movement to align it with one of history's greatest boogiemen - anarchists.  
  3. Misrepresent what might happen if the city government were to disappear overnight. 
  4. Make an over simplified speech extolling the values you hold directed at knocking down the straw men that you have set up - the fictitious anarchist tea partiers.  
  5. Preemptively make fun of anyone who might call you out on the internet.  

I am all for poking fun at just about anyone, even people who want less government, but people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.  Remember the "Fellas At The Freakin' FCC"?

The proper role of government deserves serious consideration given by serious adults.  Politics and satire are similarly cheapened by moralizing, partisan cartoons.

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