Tag Archives: episode

Before rape joke, ‘Family Guy’ had critics

This weekend’s crossover episode of Fox’s “Family Guy” and “The Simpsons” has received criticism for a scene where a character uses rape as a punchline for a joke.

The line appears in a scene in which Bart Simpson is instructing Stewie Griffin in the art of the prank phone call. Bart dials the owner of Moe’s Tavern and asks whether there is anyone there with the last name Keybum, first name Lee. When Moe calls out to his patrons, asking for a “leaky bum,” everyone gets a laugh.

Stewie thinks that’s cool, and asks to make his own prank call.

“Hello, Moe?” he says. “Your sister’s being raped.”

Tim Winter, president of the advocacy group Parents Television Council, said he’s a longtime fan of Matt Groening, creator of “The Simpsons,” and sought out the trailer when it was released.

“I was blown out of my shoes when I saw the scene with the rape joke in it,” Winter said. “It really troubled me.”

He said he found it particularly offensive in the context of stories about sexual assaults on college campuses and, most recently, talk about abusive treatment of women by some players in the National Football League. He said when rape is accepted as a punch line for a joke in entertainment, “it becomes less outrageous in real life.”

Winter said he wrote to Groening, “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane and Fox in August, asking that the joke be removed when the episode is shown on television. He said he received no reply.

MacFarlane brought up the line during a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, predicting he will get attacked for it in the media. “But in context,” he said, “it’s pretty funny.”

Winter said he didn’t think the subject was worth joking about, and said he was particularly concerned about its exposure to younger viewers who may be fans of “The Simpsons,” but are not familiar with the “Family Guy” style of comedy.

It’s not the first time the animated “Family Guy” has gotten its creators in hot water. Here are some other examples:

• Fox declined to air an episode, “Partial Terms of Endearment,” during the 2009-10 season when family matriarch Lois Griffin contemplates an abortion. She was acting as a surrogate for a couple killed in an auto accident before the baby was born. Fox executives said it was fragile subject matter at a sensitive time. The episode was later released on DVD.

• The episode, “When You Wish Upon a Weinstein” was criticized as anti-Semitic by The Forward, a newspaper that spotlights Jewish issues. In it, the character Peter sings a song titled “I Need a Jew.” Fox initially declined to air it, and it was shown first on Adult Swim on the Cartoon Network in 2003. Fox then aired it the next year.

• Advocates for people living with AIDS criticized a 2005 episode in which Peter was part of a barbershop quartet that dressed in red vests and danced around a man’s hospital bed singing a song titled, “You Have AIDS.”

• Sarah Palin called the show’s writers “heartless jerks” for a 2010 episode in which the character Chris dated a girl with Down syndrome. When Chris asked what her parents did, she replied: “My dad’s an accountant, and my mom is the former governor of Alaska.” Palin, who had resigned as Alaska governor months earlier, has a son with Down syndrome.

Fox’s entertainment division, through a spokeswoman, said it would not comment on the criticism or whether there are any second thoughts about the joke in the episode scheduled to air later this week.

‘Around the Corner with John McGivern’ opens with profile of Shorewood

His travels for the popular Milwaukee Public Television series “Around the Corner with John McGivern” landed the actor in Shorewood last summer to film an episode that was chosen to open the program’s second season on Jan. 10.

The north shore Milwaukee community is one of the state’s most liberal and colorful suburbs – and one that’s close to the city’s East Side. That’s where McGivern grew up surrounded by characters who became some of his most entertaining and beloved stage material.

The Shorewood episode is the first of 13 that will take viewers in 2013 around the state to visit communities, including Mineral Point, Madison and Whitewater. People who live or work in Shorewood are invited to a free screening of the episode Jan. 3 at 6:30 p.m. at Discovery World’s Innovation Theater, 500 N. Harbor Drive, Milwaukee. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first- served basis.

Explorer Pere Jacques Marquette was thought to be the first European to set his eyes on the land that constitutes Shorewood when he and his companions sailed down what is now the Milwaukee River in 1674. During the 19th century, the village was variously known as Mechanicsville and Cementville – the latter for its rich limestone deposits that could be used in producing cement.

The town was established in 1900, when it seceded from what was then the town of Milwaukee. It was known as East Milwaukee until 1917, when it adopted its current name.

“Shorewood is really all about the water,” says McGivern. Its location between the Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan is a determining factor for the area’s personality, he explains.

Resident Diedre Martin, a researcher for the “Around the Corner” series, suggested Shorewood as a destination for the show.

McGivern’s shows are designed to explore individual neighborhoods and communities through the eyes and voices of the people who live and work there. Even though each community or neighborhood is different, their residents share a common appreciation for where they live, McGivern says.

“There is a lot of pride in the various neighborhoods, and the enthusiasm is remarkable,” McGivern continues. “It doesn’t take but a question to get (interviewees) going about how much they like to live and work there.”

McGivern and MPTV producer Lois Maurer traditionally spend several days in the neighborhood before filming and conducting interviews. When filming the Shorewood segment, McGivern visited the Village Hall, the Shorewood High School drama program, Hubbard Park, Benji’s Deli and other familiar locations. He talked with Anne Marie Topel, whose Lake Drive home is listed on the National Register of Historic places, entrepreneurs Anne and John Nehring, and Leonard Sobzcak, owner of the Wisconsin Gazette.

“I went to grade school with Leonard,” McGivern says. “It was so nice to sit on the porch and talk with him, knowing that he is representing my community.”

“Around the Corner” already has been renewed for a third season, with new episodes scheduled to be filmed this coming spring and summer. The show is carried on all Wisconsin Public Television stations and airs in Milwaukee on channel 10 Thursdays at 7 p.m. and repeats Fridays on channel 36 at 8 p.m.