Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Satire is Fine

It was only a matter of time before one of Sarah Palin's gaffes (moronic statements, asinine spoutings or whatever else you'd like to call them) came back to bite her in the proverbial arse. Such has happened with her claiming that Rush Limbaugh using the term "retard" was OK because it was "satire", but Rahm Emanuel using the term "retard" should be grounds for his firing. If you say that something is OK if it is satire, do you know what's going to happen? You're going to get a whole hell of a lot of satire, that is correct.

Enter The Family Guy and its creator, Seth MacFarlane. According to the huffy folks over there at The Huffington Post, last night's Family Guy episode had the dim and inept Chris out on a date with a character that could be said to resemble one with Down Syndrome. Aside from the cartoonish physical resemblance, there was also the character's assertion that her father was "...an accountant and my mom's the former governor of Alaska." Now, never mind that Sarah Palin's child with Down Syndrome is a male named Trig. This, after all, is satire. Thus, according to Sarah Palin herself, it's perfectly OK.

Sarah Palin has not yet come out and shrieked her disappointment or her dislike of this episode and the obvious reference to herself and her family. Give her time. After all, it took her over six months before she came out and said that Rahm Emanuel should be fired for saying "retard" back in August. She might be outraged, but she's not exactly the quickest runner off the blocks.

But let me explain why she might want to think twice about asserting that this episode mocks fun at those who have mental/intellectual disabilities. In this episode, Chris takes this girl, Ellen, on a date to a restaurant. Ellen has to remind him to pull out her chair for him after he rudely just sits down at the table and leaves her standing there.. Once seated, she has to practically explain to him what proper date etiquette consists of, ie, asking the girl things about herself. That's when he asks her what her parents do and that's when she gives the answer that could be interpreted to be referencing Sarah Palin. Mind you, there are lots of former governors of Alaska. (And I don't think that Todd, the former First Dude, was an accountant. I also don't think that we ever really did know what in the heck he actually did, either.)

The scenario described above does not indicate that there is any sort of mocking being done toward the individual with the Down Syndrome. In fact, it's quite the opposite. The episode could be interpreted to be saying that there is a lot that we can learn from folks with Down Syndrome. Clearly, Chris could, as Chris has an IQ that is slightly lower than that of my left shoe. On top of that, Chris really likes this girl. He had been wanting to tell her that he liked her for a long time. Had he and Stewie not gotten lost in that forest and thought they were going to die, he likely never would have avowed to tell her that he liked her if he made it out of the forest alive.

And at the end of the episode, after being told to do all night long, Chris finally snaps and says that he has heard his whole life that people with Down Syndrome are different than everyone else, but it turns out that they're just the same as everyone else! Now, isn't that the message that Sarah Palin wants folks to know? That they're just the same as everyone else? (Granted, in this episode, Ellen is somewhat of a bitch. But it's not like we all don't know a bunch of bitches in our life, right? See? So it's still not out of line!)

I don't know that she's going to come out and comment on this issue this time. I'm pretty sure that it would be in her best interest (or at least in her image's best interest) if she didn't. You can only take certain causes just so far when you're such an easy target as Sarah Palin. What with the Interwebs and Photoshop and everything, the potential for her own self sanctioned satire is enormous. I'm going to lay two-to-one odds that she doesn't comment on it. Besides, they never used the word "retard" and isn't that what she wanted in the first place? Looks like she got her wish. Granted, she never said anything about a half hour of animated teasing....

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