Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Palins vs. Griffins

(Hulu video)

I'm not sure if it was this catchy little showtune or the subsequent date scene that caused the Palin family to go into their notorious Facebook rapid response mode:
People are asking me to comment on yesterday’s Fox show that felt like another kick in the gut. Bristol was one who asked what I thought of the show that mocked her baby brother, Trig (and/or others with special needs), in an episode yesterday. Instead of answering, I asked her what she thought. Here is her conscientious reply, which is a much more restrained and gracious statement than I want to make about an issue that begs the question, “when is enough, enough?”:

“When you’re the son or daughter of a public figure, you have to develop thick skin. My siblings and I all have that, but insults directed at our youngest brother hurt too much for us to remain silent. People with special needs face challenges that many of us will never confront, and yet they are some of the kindest and most loving people you’ll ever meet. Their lives are difficult enough as it is, so why would anyone want to make their lives more difficult by mocking them? As a culture, shouldn’t we be more compassionate to innocent people – especially those who are less fortunate? Shouldn’t we be willing to say that some things just are not funny? Are there any limits to what some people will do or say in regards to my little brother or others in the special needs community? If the writers of a particularly pathetic cartoon show thought they were being clever in mocking my brother and my family yesterday, they failed. All they proved is that they’re heartless jerks. - Bristol Palin”
So they think Family Guy mocked Trig? Let me recap the episode. Chris has a crush on a mentally disabled girl in his math class, and he asks her on a date. They go out together and over dinner the girl tells Chris, "My dad's an accountant, and my mom's the former governor of Alaska." That's the closest thing to a Palin family reference I could find.

The date goes downhill from there. The girl is way too bitchy and demanding for kind-hearted Chris.

It was inevitable that the dysfunctional Palin family would one day clash with the dysfunctional Griffin family, but this episode wasn't even about the Palin family! "My mom's the former governor of Alaska" is a throwaway joke. Maybe we're supposed to interpret that line as the girl making a sarcastic jab or an obvious fib. I never know how to interpret Family Guy's random pop culture references.

In fact, I don't really like Family Guy, but I completely approve of putting disabled characters in cartoons like South Park, for example. Remember Timmy? Whether in a rock band, traveling back in time, training a stunt turkey, or being chased by NAMBLA, he was always right there participating with his able-bodied peers. Most people with disabilities (I am one and I know quite a few others) wish the world was more like that... well, minus the NAMBLA part. My point is that the depiction of the mentally disabled high school student doing all the normal high school things is pleasingly progressive.

I'm tired of Sarah Palin using her son Trig as a political prop to attack all things she perceives as elitist and liberal. When she quit her job as the governor of Alaska, I naively hoped that she would use her celebrity status to advocate for the disabled, but the woman simply has no clue. All we've seen from her are fabrications about death panels and a new Republican form of political correctness.

Where is her outrage over the recent story of TSA screeners forcing a 4-year-old to remove his leg braces and walk through an airport security checkpoint unaided? Against the TSA's own rules! Hey Sarah, these are the real cruelties facing real children with disabilities.


Trung said...

i watched the episode and to be honest, i found nothing offensive about it. i didn't feel like the writers were mocking people with a disability. rather, i think they portrayed her someone who has foibles; you know, a human being. with that being said, an actress with down syndrome responded. she basically said palin needs to get a sense of humor. http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/2010/02/19/family-guy-down-syndrome-actress-weighs-in-on-palin/?hpt=Sbin

Kristen said...

Yeah I thought it was quite a twist when I heard that the voice was done by a woman with Down Syndrome. Sarah Palin would be wise to drop the whole subject now... if Palin gets into a war of words with this actress, Palin will be the one who ends up looking retarded.