Bil Browning

You got the AIDS

Filed By Bil Browning | September 24, 2005 11:46 PM | comments

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FOX's Family Guy cartoon has recently had a dust up with AIDS organizations who are pissed off at the show for a recent episode entitled "The Cleveland-Loretta Quagmire." I saw the episode and it's hilarious. I'm a big Family Guy fan; they rank right up there with The Simpsons. The main character, Peter Griffin, is a nincompoop and a boob ala Homer Simpson. The Griffins make the Simpsons seem like a Disney family though...

The episode in question doesn't deal with HIV or AIDS in general - just a tiny quip of it does. Peter offers to tell his friend Cleveland that his wife is cheating on him. He claims to be good at breaking bad news. Peter, however, isn't good at anything and a flashback quickly follows showing Peter in action telling a hospital patient he has AIDS. He breaks out in song and dance with a barbershop Quartet:

You have AIDS.
Yes, you have AIDS.
I hate to tell you, boy, you have AIDS.
You got the AIDS.
You may have caught it when you stuck that filthy needle in here.
Or maybe all that unprotected sex which we hear.
It isn’t clear, but what we’re certain of is that you have AIDS.
Yes, you have AIDS.
Not HIV, but full-blown AIDS.
Be sure that you see that this is not HIV, but full blown AIDS.
Not HIV, but full-blown AIDS.
I’m sorry, I wish it was something less serious, but it’s AIDS.
You’ve got the AIDS.

“Over the years, Family Guy has skewered virtually every ethnic, religious, and social group,” says Fox spokesman Steven Melnick. “The audience that tunes into this series is well-aware of what to expect from the show--a subversive and sometimes shocking comedic view that occasionally skirts the borders of appropriateness. This scene is not a joke about HIV but rather Peter’s ignorance and inability to convey bad news. Given the nature of this series as well as the well-established cluelessness of this particular character, the scene--while certainly abrasive--is not beyond the expectation of the Family Guy audience.”

But AIDS groups aren’t amused. And they’re not buying Fox’s defense of the show, saying that joking about a disease that affects more than 40 million people worldwide, most of whom will die of the ailment, is reprehensible and serves only to worsen AIDS-related stigma.

“A barbershop quartet singing blithely about AIDS is about as funny as a song about breast cancer or leukemia, especially to the people living with the disease,” says AIDS Project Los Angeles executive director Craig E. Thompson. “It is inexcusable for Fox to air a program that stigmatizes AIDS and less than subtly reinforces homophobia. It should be socially unacceptable to see this kind of garbage passing for entertainment in 2005.”

I have to agree with the FOX spokesman on this one. This is a show where Peter has also made a slip and slide out of his living room stairs and a garden hose, wrecked a helicopter and a dirigible into his neighbor's yard, and encouraged his teenage daughter to get plastic surgery and lose her virginity. The children regularly curse at their parents. This is not a family values show. The bit would have been just as funny with "You got the leukemia" - but you try to match that rhyme scheme. While I agree that AIDS is not a laughing matter, you're not laughing at AIDS, you're laughing at Peter screwing something up again. Besides, laughter is the best medicine... *ba-dum-bum* *ping*


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AUTHOR: Morgan

DATE: 9/25/2005 10:00:10 AM

Until I see individuals come forward to complain, rather than an AIDS group, I'm sticking with FOX.


AUTHOR: Ethan

DATE: 9/25/2005 10:46:18 PM

I will boycott any group that interferes with My Family Guy!!!