Evolution of Censorship on TV and the role of Family Guy by Carlea Sundin

It seems silly to think that in the 1940’s, a featherless cartoon bird was deemed too inappropriate for television, or that in the 1950’s the cameras filming Elvis Presley had to cut to a close up shot so to hide his “trademark pelvic gyrations.”  With the amount of sex and violence that anyone can see on television in this day and age, these matters seem so trivial.

As time has passed, American television has become less and less censored. In many ways, this has affected the way that people have grown to believe they should be and act. Children can be taught certain words and actions from what they are exposed to. This can have very bad consequences, and I have my own personal example to give. My brother-in-law is an avid watcher of Family Guy, owning all the seasons on DVD. He would watch them often, even when his four-year-old daughter was around. He didn’t believe that she would pick up on the adult cartoon, but he was certainly very wrong. One day, my sister heard my young niece call her cat a “bitch.” When she asked her where she learned that word, she said she showed her the Family Guy DVD.

As the opening theme song to Family Guy so blatantly states, “it seems today that all you see is violence in movies and sex on TV.” There is a lot of truth to that, but the rest of the lyrics go on to provide that this show portrays the “good old fashion values.” Granted, it is a comedy, but regardless of that fact, certain ideals and points of view can be instilled through the situations and type of humor on the show.  Here is a clip of the opening followed by the lyrics:

Opening theme lyrics:

Lois: It seems today,

That all you see,

Is violence in movies,

and sex on T.V.

Peter: But where are those good old fashion values….

All: On which we used to rely?!

Lucky theres a family guy!

Lucky theres a man who,

positively can do,

all the things that make us…

Stewie: laugh and cry!

All: He’s a Fam-ily Guy!

Even when television shows use their crude humor for entertainment, certain ideas are still being represented to the audiences watching about people, actions, roles in society, etc. These kinds of things would never have been on television 30 or 40 years ago. What could this be saying about what our society has become? Some may argue that we are immune to the toxicity of bad television, but some can argue a very different case. It could even be having subconscious effects on the mind. However, for the most part, individuals have the ability to choose the parts of culture that they consume, and this choosing will reflect how it affects them.

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