Thursday, December 27, 2012

More on Seth MacFarlane and blasphemy

This started as a reply to Dano’s good observations on this but I ran too long, so here it is.
When they try to write about any other part of the world — England, Germany, the American South, Ireland, etc. — or some other social group — religious believers, Mexican immigrants, old-money WASPs — ... your parody doesn’t bear even the slightest superficial resemblance to the thing you are allegedly spoofing.
I noticed that too and chalked it up to hip meta jokes — not spoofing those things and people, but other people’s ideas about them. (Why for example the word ‘Oriental’ is politically incorrect now about East Asians and their cultures; it’s seen as referring to Westerners’ ideas about them, exoticism, and not them.) Being wrong is the whole point. In other words not really using stereotypes but making fun of stereotyping. (Stereotypes are such because they’re often true. But the meta thing, trying to be fair, points out real shortcomings of stereotypes: everybody’s unique, and outsiders often don’t understand what they see.) But maybe that’s giving the writers too much credit.

Sometimes I think that’s what the writers are up to and it often works: Englishmen as effete ninnies for example, many Americans’ image of them. I think Consuelo the maid (misspelled Consuela; I don’t know why) is a pretty accurate rendition of how immigrant Hispanics seem to Americans who don’t know them well or have no Spanish, and is funny without being a putdown, just illustrating a real culture clash (commercial: ‘¡Abogado! ¡Cinco cinco cinco, cinco-cinco-cinco-cinco!’).

I didn’t know that about Seth MacFarlane not writing the preachiest, most obnoxious stuff. But I had the impression that the anti-Irish and anti-Catholic stuff were him, meaning every word, attacking things and people from his upbringing. (Which aren’t perfect and aren’t above criticism but, like with this horrid anti-Christmas show, he seems to have not just assimilated, joining the Protestant majority to become a SWPL snob, but gone beyond secularized to European-style anti-religious.) Like how Brian is his ‘Mary Sue’ character (Mary Sue = a writer’s obvious alter ego), him speaking in his normal voice to preach against God, etc. Same goes for the jabs at Southerners; again the prejudice of MacFarlane’s current class. In other words, here they’re not making fun of stereotypes; they’re using meta jokes as a cover to... just plain stereotype. (Like you said, SWPLs are hypocrites.)

Never saw ‘The Goode Family’. Interesting points. Loved ‘King of the Hill’. Remember the episode where all the hipsters moved in? Mike Judge made the point that the good-hearted, common-sense conservative hero Hank was naturally friends with the Mexicans while the try-hard hipsters saying ‘¡Viva la Raza!’ at them weren’t. Also, you had Kanh (spelling?) and Minh, Hank’s and Peggy’s annoying nemeses, immigrant Asians neither putdown stereotypes nor SWPL saints, but just people.

I know whoever wrote this year’s anti-Christmas show was trying to get my goat, but as Elena Maria Vidal’s husband, who gave me much of my worldview, would put it, some of that stuff, such as the mockery of the Hail Mary, is right out of the pit of hell.

(I forget where I picked this up, but attacks this blatant, while doing harm by desensitizing, are more like infestation than possession, which is scarier because it’s not flashy like in the movies — that’s infestation — but subtle, at first undetectable.)

The front line of the devil’s war on God is where God and matter meet: God made man, Satan hated it, and so man fell. This front is the flashpoint for all heresy and apostasy. There are three ongoing battles: who Jesus is, what the Eucharist is, and the nature and use of sex. Attacks on Mary are to do with the first and third: get people to deny the Incarnation/hypostatic union and get them to hate both virginity and children (say abstinence or continence/fidelity are for losers). (Regarding the Eucharist, get people to deny the full Real Presence; deny transubstantiation, mock the Mass.)

(Reminds me of something I recently saw on Facebook. The first mainline Protestants: ‘Catholics worship Mary!’ Mainliners now: ‘Catholics hate women!’ Get your story straight! Contradictory statements but different strategies in the same fight.

On church authority’s power to make changes. Then: ‘The Pope’s gone too far!’ Now: ‘The Pope won’t go far enough!’)

MacFarlane most of the time seems like just a smartass fallen-away Catholic only a jump removed from the non-malevolent legions of Bad Catholics (like Peter Griffin), but this episode honestly sounded like spiritual warfare.

(Again, regarding not attacking Mohammed, picking on Christianity is for cowards. Going after an enemy too nice to literally hit back.)

Of course as a libertarian I defend free speech. MacFarlane’s talented so I’ll keep watching but my opinion of him has gone way down.

6 comments:

  1. "In other words, here they’re not making fun of stereotypes; they’re using meta jokes as a cover to... just plain stereotype."

    Steve Sailer identified that as a common tactic that Lefty entertainers in the 21st century use to get away with politically-incorrect ethnic humor. Sarah Silverman, for example, does an act loaded with well-known stereotypes, but occasionally cites some weird fake stereotype that nobody really believes, so that her audience can reassure themselves that they are laughing AT her evil racist stage persona, and not with it.

    Personally, I don't mind ethnic jokes if they seem accurate, which is much harder to achieve than it sounds- you have to know a culture pretty intimately to be able to mock its flaws well. It helps to either be of that ethnicity yourself (think of Chris Rock's merciless excoriation of bad behavior amongst urban blacks) or to have lived/worked in close proximity to it for a long time (e.g. working as a bartender next to an Indian reservation). I suspect the "Family Guy" writers resort to dumb stereotypes not because they are hateful or bigoted, but just because they are too lazy to do any research.

    "Again, regarding not attacking Mohammed, picking on Christianity is for cowards. Going after an enemy too nice to literally hit back."

    Reading this now, I think that may be one reason for the well-known dislike that South Park's creators have for "Family Guy". Parker and Stone can be just as offensive and ignorant as MacFarlane and his people, but unlike him, they actually do have the stones to attack groups that will fight back.

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  2. Another popular line in American and Western European journalism is the ploy of the antisemitic Pole.
    It is one of the most demeaning epitets one can bestow on us.

    The Polish problem is not an avid hatred of the Jew. The problem is the weird gut feeling we get when we remember that although hundreds of thousands of Jews were saved tjat now they are so ungrateful. The anti-Polish viritrol of their various organisations and NYT, WSJ is very offensive. What do they think that the Jews who formed the State of Israel. Where did the 500,000 Jews emigrants to Israel after 1945 come from if not from Poland?

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    1. Steve Sailer taught me why America has putdown Polish jokes, puzzling because Poles are, as he agrees, one of the nicest immigrant groups. Eastern European Jews, often very smart survivors, joked around to cope with persecution and of course took that to America. They were getting back at their Slavic persecutors, who often weren't quite as smart as them, maybe normal vs. slightly higher intelligence. So you get things like Borat, an overrated long Polish joke mixed with 'Candid Camera'.

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    2. Tomasz2:06 pm

      The Jewish-Slavic issue is a molehill made into a mountain, mostly by Jews. Some fraternal slurs and some card games which ended in a brawl in 1918 Galicja are reasons enough for Zionist pro-Israel activists to get worked up because this proves their agenda that everywhere outside of Israel do the Jews suffer persecution. The Jews and Poles were equal to each other. They weren't a Jewish nation in 1930, they were Poles who practiced the Hebrew Faith. Only did Zionism make them into a suffering people.

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    3. But Eastern European Jews spoke their version of German, Yiddish, as a first language, and the local Slavic language only to deal with the state and gentile customers.

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  3. Personally, I don't mind ethnic jokes if they seem accurate, which is much harder to achieve than it sounds- you have to know a culture pretty intimately to be able to mock its flaws well.

    Exactly. These (Sarah Silverman on 'Jewy people driving German cars' for example) and real meta jokes are both acceptable and funny.

    I suspect the "Family Guy" writers resort to dumb stereotypes not because they are hateful or bigoted, but just because they are too lazy to do any research.

    Again I think most of the time they're real meta jokes (Tricia Takanawa for example), except when they're about common SWPL targets, the Wrong Kind of Whites (Not Our Class, Dear) such as Southerners or working-class Irish Catholics a generation or two older (the ones who are still religious; again I think MacFarlane attacks his roots, although you said he doesn't write the really obnoxious stuff). The show's jokes about Italians and Italian-Americans (like this one), whom I know and like: just stereotypes, meta or inside/close knowledge? Sometimes one or another? I like those much of the time.

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