Respect or Sensitivity: Family Guy Bans Gay Jokes

As a society, humor is something we bond over. Whether it’s opening a speech with a dad joke or breaking the ice during first dates, humor is a universal dialect. However, society also has basic rules on which jokes are appropriate, depending on the context. For example, making fun of an individual’s disability is considered unethical and cruel. If there are children present, sexual jokes are out of the question. When jokes are used inappropriately, they often reflect on a person’s character and determine whether others want to be associated with this person. On the contrary, the business of comedy often pushes the boundaries of this universal dialect. The infamous television show, Family Guy, does this constantly.

Although the show is liked for its dark humor, Peter and his family create so much controversy that episodes are often banned. In 2009, Venezuela banned the episode titled “420.” The episode displays characters Brian and Stewie campaigning to legalize marijuana. Networks that didn’t comply with banning the episode were even fined. Furthermore, an episode about abortion was unaired due to a joke made by Peter, In which he stated, “[i]f God wanted us to kill babies, he'd make them all Chinese girls." The whole episode was taken off all platforms.

Recently, Family Guy headlined the news for announcing their personal ban on the use of gay jokes. Producers stated that they will be “phasing out” these jokes since they are no longer appropriate in our society today.

Executive Producer, Alec Sulkin said, “If you look at a show from 2005 or 2006 and put it side by side with a show from 2005 or 2006 and put it side by side with a show from 2018 or 2019, they’re going to have some differences. Some of the things we felt comfortable saying and joking about back then. We now understand is not acceptable.”

Sunday’s episode even went to the extent to highlight the ban. In the episode, Peter Griffin becomes the secretary for President Donald Trump. Their relationship takes a turn after Trump sexually assaults Meg and the two start arguing. During the argument Trump states, “[m]any children have learned their favorite Jewish, black, and gay jokes by watching your show over the years.” In response, Peter replies, “In fairness, we’ve been trying to phase out the gay stuff. But you know what? We’re a cartoon. You’re the president.”

As the news spread, the internet brought up an interesting debate: is the LGBTQ+ community too sensitive or has the culture of society simply changed? Several marginalized groups are joked about on Family Guy. In fact, this element is what fans appreciate about the show. It opens the ability for us to laugh at ourselves and social stigmas. Whether it is about race or even religion, all types of jokes have been free for grabs. If gay jokes are becoming banned, then what jokes will be next?