Tuesday, 23 February 2010

How the Family Guy controversy was received around the web

I have collected some reactions to the Family Guy controversy from around the web. It seems to me that the people who expressed opinions in favour of Sarah Palin had not watched the episode in question. The people who had, even though some don't appreciate Family Guy's type of humour, presented a more balanced view. I didn't think it was necessary to show the comments from Sarah Palin's usual supporters. We already saw a sample of their opinions included in a previous post.

Perez Hilton

People with Down Syndrome can be completely functioning, capable people, and although Family Guy didn't approach the subject in a completely PC manner, it makes a strong point!!

Why should anyone make those with Down Syndrome feel anymore different than the rest of us, even if it's by shielding them from jokes? All it does is isolate people even further - and nobody should feel that way.

We hope you take notice, Sarah! You could learn something from Andrea Fay Friedman!!

Joy Behar

You know, I think that, as comedians, we have a sort of an obligation to make fun of the guys up above, not the guys down below, people who are in trouble, people in pain. What’s the point of that? That’s an easy shot. So I agree with Sarah on this one.

Gail Williamson, executive director of the Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles, which, among other services, assists films and television series in casting actors with the disability, and helped Ms. Friedman get hired by “Family Guy,” said it did not matter whether she thought the episode was funny.

“Within ‘Family Guy,’ the character was fully included, well-rounded, dynamic, not dealing with stereotypical Down syndrome issues,” Ms. Williamson said. She added: “Am I a fan of that kind of humor? Eh. It’s beside the point.”

“If we’re asking for full inclusion in the schools and full inclusion in the world,” she said, “ we should appreciate full inclusion with other genres. Even if those genres are not what we appreciate.”

A random comment

...read the comments, many from the families of special needs kids, like mine. We are all rooting for MORE humor, not less. Palin is out of town on this. Read her book, Going Rogue and any parent of a special needs child or adult will be made breathless by the sucking sound of Palin using her child as political football. No personal revelation of how this terrific kid changed her life, or her family's life. She carts him around like a football from booksigning to booksigning. She talks the talk, does not walk the walk. Read the opinion of Andrea Friedman, the DS actor voice behind the Family Guy character. In sum: Palin has no sense of humor.

I would add: Palin has no sense of of DS, period.

Down Syndrome Actress Plays Indentity Politics
, 'Absolute Moral Authority' Card

The latest shot fired in the 'Family Guy' Sarah Palin Down syndrome feud came from the actress who voiced the Down syndrome character in the episode in question. Andrea Friedman, who herself has Down syndrome, is upset.

This is identity politics at its worse with the "absolute moral authority" card thrown in. Andrea Friedman thought that the sub plot, including the crack about the "former governor of Alaska," was funny, so you better think it's funny too.

Imagine someone making fun of—say—one or both of President Obama's daughters. Imagine the president being told he can't take a joke when he reacts, as one would expect, more as a father than a president. Then state the premise again that there is no double standard.


As a Mom of a son with DS, we need to quit making it seem as if having a child with DS should qualify you for the freaking Nobel Peace Prize! That implies that there is inherintly something wrong with having DS - that they are a lesser people. Until we accept that having DS and other chromosome disorders is no different than having blond hair or blue eyes - by that, I mean realizing that DS is part of who a person is - we are NEVER going to move forward with disability rights! Maybe then 90% of babies with DS wouldn't be aborted...

I am a new poster to this blog, though I've followed for a while now. I posted (1st time) regarding this topic yesterday, but this reinforces my thought that DS advocates & anti-SP bloggers are natural allies. I am the parent of a child with DS about the same age as Trig. He was one of the initial reasons I started looking into the SP issue(s). Needless to say, I've been a little horrified by the Palin clan.

Oh, and I love Family Guy (usually), and I found nothing offensive in this episode r/t DS. I thought it was great to include the DS character in a non-"special" way.

Tracy Pattin

I was at Real Time with Bill Maher at CBS Studios last night for the first episode of season 8. Family Guy’s Seth McFarlane was a guest. Bill Maher asked him about the Sarah Palin controversy over Down’s Syndrome Voice Actor, Andrea McFarlane played a Down’s Syndrome person. Sarah Palin was outraged and felt that Family Guy and that character was making fun of her Down’s Syndrome son Trig.

McFarlane defended the character choice of using a person with Down’s Syndrome to play the role, saying that Andrea “loves her life as a voice actor and is proud to be part of the show.” As a sister of a Down’s Syndrome person, this was great to hear!

Yo Mamma Mamma

As parents of children with different abilities, our challenge, I believe is to figure out how to teach the truth...and help our peers teach their children the truth, and their children's children the same truth.

That truth being that our children may have "eyes that are oddly made" but they are more like other people than they are different. Not people to be pitied, not people to be feared, or ridiculed or ignored. Just people. Not any more "God's Children" than any one else is. Just children.

Special Children

This reminds me of the flap over Family Guy making fun of deaf actress Marlee Matlin's speaking voice, which Matlin made clear in a self-lampooning appearance on a live episode was just fine with her. It's certainly more fun to be laughing with than laughed at, and there's something to be said for the argument that treating people with disabilities as too fragile and special to be part of the comedy mix like everybody else is insulting in its own way. Whether rough comic treatments are cruel or cool is often in the eye of the beholder.

Blair Williamson

This is my friend and fellow actor Andrea Friedman. She did a great voice over job on "Family Guy." I also like the cartoon version of her.

Some comments on Blair's post:

. Goes to show that there are two sides to every story. I don't watch this show, and don't plan to, but, I support any opportunity for our kids with Down syndrome to succeed. I have always respected Andrea and her work, and I admire her for taking on this role. Voice over work sound fun... and I don't think Andrea would ever make fun specifically of Trig. I have very mixed feelings about what the show has done... but appreciate that Andrea got another role to add to her resume!

. I don't know if anything is tastefully done on that show, but I love that Andrea Friedman was hired for the role and that the character was not a stereotype. It is quite wonderful that so much discussion is continuing about Andrea Friedman's remarks in response to Sarah Palin - taking the focus off the show and politics and putting it where it belongs, in advocacy.

. Ms. Friedman continued, “My mother did not carry me around under her arm like a loaf of French bread the way former Governor Palin carries her son Trig around looking for sympathy and votes.”
You put that wonderfully. I have been saying that all along although I think you said it better. Kudos to you Andrea.
I have worked in a group home for twenty three years with young adults with DS and I also have a ten year old niece with DS. I take more offense from her exploiting her son than I did from the show.

There was nothing from Sarah Palin after the outraged Facebook note. The best she could offer after Ms Friedman's comments was a photoshopped picture of Trig, to show what a happy and normal life he leads...

The co-author of the Facebook rant, Bristol Palin, had nothing to say to Andrea Friedman either, but is launching her own acting career.

Bristol Palin, arguably the most famous teen mother in America, will make her acting debut playing herself on ABC Family's "The Secret Life of the American Teenager," the network announced today.

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