RhetoricalAnalysis: Peter Griffin from Family Guy.
Thearticle “Was Family Guy’s Trans episode horrifically offensive?”authored by Ryan Tedder examines one particular episode of the FamilyGuy TV series in regards to depiction of transgender people. Thearticle, published in a pro-LGBT website, looks at how the show’srude and politically incorrect jokes in this sensitive issue hasangered many LGBT’s in America at a time when the country is slowlymoving towards equal opportunities for the LGBT community. Thistaking place only because many states have managed to pass lawsaccommodating same sex relationships. In the essay, the author arguesthat the episode went beyond the usual making fun of a group orindividuals into actively bashing and misrepresenting facts abouttransgenders to portray them as monsters: however, the article doesnot provide any evidence that the episode through Peter Griffin asthe main character, was really offensive and deviated from whatviewers have come to expect of the show.
Inhis article, Tedder first describes the main event of the episodewhich is the sex change of Quagmire’s dad. He begins by noting howthe episode stereotypes the man as a gay by owning the entire DVDcollection of the Sexand the City.He also makes it known that Quagmire’s dad’s behavior wasexplicitly queer to everyone who interacted with him and assumed hewas gay. However, when Quagmire confronts him, he reveals that he isnot a homosexual but rather a woman trapped in a man’s body and isthus a male-to-female transgender.
Toargue his case that the episode is insulting and disrespectful to theLGBT community, the author appeals to logos. He draws numerousexamples from the particular episode to show how the concept oftransgender is misrepresented. For instance, after Quagmire’s dadtransitions into a female with a new name Ida, Peter asks her “doyou miss your penis?” Again, the author cites the incidence wherethe Peter’s wife, Lois, names the gender changing process as acircus and even tells Peter “enjoy the circus.” At the waitingroom again, there are talks about “penis being chopped off.” Theauthor uses these direct quotations from the show to build a logicalargument that the show does not give the issue of transgender theseriousness it deserves as Peter and Lois dehumanize the process.
Besideslogos, appeal, the author makes a case for pathos appeal. He is eagerto draw his audience into a situation where they will sympathize withIda and despise Peter, Lois and even, Peter’s dog Brian for beinginsensitive to Ida’s needs. To make his case, he cites the case ofBrian, who is impressed with his new friendship with a new woman, isso repulsed after learning that Ida is a transgender that he throwsup. In a way, the author is eager to persuade his audience tounderstand that these particular actions in the show by Peter andBrian are supposed to show transgenders as something disgusting andnasty far away from the humor aspect of the whole show. To furtherillustrate this, the author includes an image from the show of Brianhaving a good time with Ida followed by one where Brian throws up.And is not the usual throwing up but a huge stream of vomit thatcompletely covers the foreground in the image. This way, he aims toshow Brian and the likes of Peter as presented in the show as unkindpeople who do not understand and even sympathize with transgenderssuch as Ida as they go through their transformation.
However,in all his arguments, there lacks a clear mention of the role ofBrain’s gender as dog and his relationship with Peter. While it isunderstandable and within what the author acknowledges as justifiablymaking fun of queers, it is not clear what role Brian plays since asa dog he practically has no gender and his actions and views cannotbe linked to Peter. It would therefore be difficult to see theargument here that Brian as dog sees transgenders as monsters anddisgusting. Therefore, Brain’s views can hardly be justified asrepresentations of human emotions or attitudes towards transgenders.In fact, Brian’s views in the show are used as an alternative toPeter’s views. Juxtaposing these two views results in humor whichis what the show is all about.
Additionally,the author fails to clearly differentiate what he calls “makingfun” and being “revolting”. He claims that humor should be used“to further a worthwhile conversation” and induce laughter in theaudiences but not be something to “expunge”. The author however,fails to acknowledge how the success of Ida in getting a sex changemay have impacted the audiences. This was an important aspect of theshow that the author failed to highlight in his argument Ida’sactions and success to push through with her desires despite beingridiculed. Thus it is clear, the actions of Peter and Brian in theparticular episode do not deviate from the show’s identity and infact address a sensitive issue in society. Peter does not bashtransgenders but in actual sense supports transgenders.
Thoughthe author is eager to point that the show was offensive, he does notreally identify anything offensive about the show. He appreciatesthat queers should be made fun of just like other people but at thesame time he feels that the simple action of Brian throwing up sumsup the whole show and the character of Peter as transgender-bashingentities. On the contrary, the character of Peter was used tohighlight common misunderstandings people have about transgenders.The fact that Peter was there to assist Ida in her transformation wasindeed supportive of the transgender cause.
Tedder,Ryan. WasFamily Guy’s Trans episode horrifically offensive?May 10 2010. Web.