• Seth MacFarlane’s War on Christmas

    by  • December 17, 2013 • Broadcast Decency, Profanity, Sex, Violence • 14 Comments

    adimg5Santa Claus, a gun-crazed killer. Eggnog presented as semen. These and other horrors were Seth MacFarlane’s early Christmas presents to the American people last Sunday night.

    The Sunday, December 15th episode of Family Guy (which also contained a scene of a child being shot in the head – on the anniversary of the Newtown massacre) wallowed in tasteless so-called “humor,” mingling Christmas themes with MacFarlane staples such as sleazy sex, anti-Semitism, and racist bigotry:

     

    Peter tries to get his father-in-law Carter to reinstate the mall’s Christmas carnival by showing him the “Christmas spirit.”

    Peter: “Okay, Carter, a big part of Christmas is masturbating like you would any other day, but feeling guilty about it because it’s Christmas.”

    Peter leaves, then re-enters the room moments later, looking guilty.

    Peter: (sighs) “What’s wrong with me?”

     

    Mixing hard-core pornography with Christmas, Peter dumps eggnog (standing in for semen) all over Carter’s face, then films the result.

    Peter: “Drink it, Carter. Take all the ‘nog. Yeah, you like that ‘nog. Don’t spit the ‘nog out. Now look at the camera for a POV shot. Say ‘thank you’ with the ‘nog in your mouth. Now go down to the hotel lobby and check out with ‘nog all over your face.”

     

    Carter refuses to reinstate the carnival.

    Carter: “We’re done here. No Christmas carnival.”

    Peter: “Wow, Carter. I had no idea you were Jewish.”

    Carter: “WHAT?! Is – is that how this is coming off?”

    Peter: “Yeah, kinda. That’s what everyone’s saying.”

    Cater: “People think I’m JEWISH?”

    Carter reinstates the carnival. A sign reads, “Carter Pewterschmidt and Jesus Present: The Quahog Mall Christmas Carnival.”

     

    A group of Asian carolers sing “Deck the Halls.”

    Carolers: “Fa ra ra ra ra, ra ra ra rah.”

     

    American Dad video clip

    Click to view video

    MacFarlane continued his desecration of Christmas on the same night’s episode of American Dad. In this program, Steve’s naughty holiday behavior results in Stan taking him to prison to see Grandpa Jack, who recalls how, in his youth, he once captured a demon that preyed on unruly children at Christmas.

    The demonic Krampus is a genuine legend from northern Europe, where he was considered the flip side of Santa Claus; where Santa rewarded good children, Krampus punished bad ones. Naturally, MacFarlane inverts the legend, portraying the profane demon as rough-edged (Krampus: “You better be good boys and girls or I’ll beat you until blood’s coming from your ears and your eyes and your mouth. Merry Christmas! And from your ass!” ), but ultimately a good guy. By contrast, Santa Claus is portrayed as a psychotic, gun-toting murderer:

     

    Santa’s elves trap Stan’s head in a noose and begin beating him. Stan is tied to a chair inside Santa’s workshop. Santa enters and pistol-whips Stan with a revolver painted like a candy cane. He points the muzzle at Stan’s head.

    Later, Stan, Santa, and the elves storm Krampus’ castle, firing machine guns and killing household objects that are alive, ala Beauty and the Beast. When the objects are shot, they explode in sprays of blood. Santa shoots Krampus in the chest as Steve wails by his side. Santa stands over Krampus, and points the gun at Krampus’ head. A gunshot is heard as blood sprays onto Steve’s face.

    Roger: “Oh, gross. It got in your mouth.”

    Santa points his gun at Stan.

    Stan: “What are you doing? We had a deal.”

    Santa: “Yeah, well I’m Santa. And maybe now even a dumbass like you could figure out that I’m the bad guy.”

    Steve: “That’s what I was trying to tell you. Krampus was good. He cared about kids. Santa just spoils them.”

    Santa: “And I make a hell of a lot of money doing it! Most of my portfolio is in toy stocks.”

     

    While in his public appearances Seth MacFarlane puts on a show of being a cheerful, light-hearted song-and-dance man, deep down inside he must be the most miserable, embittered person alive. What else could explain his non-stop misogyny, racism, anti-Semitism, contempt for Christians, Asians, and pretty much everyone not exactly like himself? Who else could be so full of hatred and loathing for anything sincere that he feels it necessary to trash – in the most violent, graphic, and disgusting manner possible — symbols of childhood innocence like Santa Claus?

    Millions of children watch Family Guy and American Dad every Sunday night. Even worse, those programs are now in syndication – meaning they are shown after school, at 4 or 5 in the afternoon, on dozens of TV stations across the country. Indeed, it’s not unlikely that many children who still believe in Santa Claus were exposed to MacFarlane’s hate-filled depiction of Santa as a crazed, sadistic murderer – and many more will be in the future.

    At a time when our entire culture pauses to celebrate the spirit of Christmas – a spirit of giving, of compassion, and of childhood innocence – it is beyond tragic that one man and one television network are permitted to inflict their hate-filled bile on millions of American children, using the very airwaves the American people own.

    Terrorizing millions of children by portraying Santa Claus as a demented murderer. Sickening millions of adults with his semi-pornographic take on the customs many hold dear. This is Seth MacFarlane’s gift to America this holiday season.

    Merry Christmas.

    _____________________

    To help the PTC fight Seth MacFarlane’s filth, click here.

    Share

    About

    Christopher Gildemeister is the PTC’s Head of Research Operations. He began as an Entertainment Analyst at the PTC in 2005. From 2007-2016, he was Senior Writer/Editor, responsible for communicating the PTC’s message to the public through newsletters, columns, and the PTC Watchdog blog. Dr. Gildemeister holds a Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America.

    14 Responses to Seth MacFarlane’s War on Christmas

    1. Nathan
      January 2, 2014 at 7:34 am

      I have an idea, if you don’t like it don’t watch it. Oh, and any parent who allows a child young enough to still believe in Santa Clause to watch Family Guy then they aren’t doing a very good job at parenting. I think Seth’s take on Christmas is and has been an attack on the over commercialization of the holiday. He mostly goes after the image of Santa as a way to show how greedy we have become as a society and how we have made it all about the presents. It’s an attack on capitalism more than anything. Seth has a habit of using his shows as a platform to express his political viewpoints. Some people get it while others don’t. It seems like you are a part of the latter group.

      • Christopher Gildemeister
        January 13, 2014 at 8:27 am

        Nathan,

        the American people own the airwaves. Seth MacFarlane does not. Fox does not. The Federal Communications Commission has held for decades that there should be limits to what is aired during the hours when children are in the audience — and Congress and the Supreme Court have backed them up. This is so because everyone understands that it is in society’s interest not to expose children to harmful influences.

        Yet somehow, the entertainment industry has turned this upside-down. Instead of taking responsibility for their actions, they deliberately choose to put harmful programming on in prime time…then blame parents if children happen to see it. And they’ve suckered millions of people into agreeing with them.

        • Brent
          February 3, 2015 at 10:38 am

          Ever heard of something called content ratings? These are basically labels at the beginning of each show and after each ad block that inform viewers of show content. Yeah, these have been around for years. Parents and caregivers ignoring them? Sounds like someone is shirking their parental responsibility.

          • Christopher Gildemeister
            February 3, 2015 at 4:47 pm

            Brent:

            Yes, I’ve heard of content ratings. Do you know who assigns the ratings to each show? I’ll tell you: the VERY SAME NETWORK THAT CREATES AND AIRS THE SHOW! This isn’t only the “fox guarding the henhouse”; this is the guy who owns the henhouse deliberately turning the fox loose in it.

            And did you know that there has NEVER been a program the broadcast networks have rated TV-MA (for adults only)? Yes, according to the networks, every single program ever shown in prime-time has been suitable for a 14 year old.

            The ratings system as it exists today is not accurate. It is not consistent (the same episode of the same show can receive a different rating in reruns than in first-run). It is not transparent. (How many people know the networks assign the ratings to their own shows?) And it is in no way accountable to the public. (The people who sit on the Ratings Oversight Board are — surprise! — employees of the same networks that produce the shows and do the rating!)

            When it comes to the TV content ratings system, the fix is in. And the ratings are completely worthless for that reason.

            Sounds like someone is shirking his responsibility to get his facts straight.

    2. Tim
      January 6, 2014 at 9:59 pm

      You could always, you know, not watch the show. It’s not your cup of tea, spectacular. A lot of people are amused by the show, and it’s not your place to judge them for that. You may feel responsible for the whole world, but you can go ahead and stop.

      • Christopher Gildemeister
        January 9, 2014 at 8:43 am

        You could always, you know, not read this website. It’s not your cup of tea, spectacular. A lot of people, especially parents, are concerned about the show, and it’s not your place to judge them for that. You may feel the need to tell other people not to care about the world their children have to live in and the media environment they are exposed to, but you can go ahead and stop.

        • Katherine Hardin
          February 16, 2014 at 7:13 pm

          Are you SERIOUS Christopher? Do you really just let your kids watch ANYTHING on tv? You are the one to blame, shitty parenting. My son is not allowed to watch television programs I do not approve of. He is not even allowed to use the remote! That is MY RESPONSIBILITY! What else do you advocate? Book burnings? Do you and other parents who complain about shows that come on at 8, the time when ANY child under 8 should be in bed run wild? What concerned decent decent parent allows children to run wild and allow the tv to babysit them, then complains when the child who should be in bed or getting ready for bed, (or for kids aged 8-14 should be reading, doing homework, taking a bath or studying are watching ADULT shows on prime time?! I went to bed at 8 every night till I was 10. Then I stayed up till 9, bur bi r\tv after 7pm for my brother and me, and even then mom and dad KNEW what we were watching, in the family room. Be a parent. use parental controls on your tv if you are too lazy to monitor them. Don’t blame the media for bad and irresponsible parents out there. There is absolutely NO excuse for a PARENT to allow their child to watch this. No tv in the bedroom, spend quality time with your children. Or at least be in the same room with them!

          • Christopher Gildemeister
            March 4, 2014 at 9:08 am

            Ignoring your hatred and profanity (if you talk to your childen the way you reply to blog posts, I do question your ability as a parent, no matter how early you send them to bed)…

            It sounds like you’ve done an excellent job of being responsible. But unless you’re capable of isolating your child from all contact with other children, they are going to be influenced by what their PEERS are seeing, too.

            It’s funny: the PTC frequently gets two openly contradictory comments, often from the same person:

            1) It’s your job as a parent to control everything your child sees and does.

            2) If you keep your child away from bad programming, you’re isolating them and they’ll grow up warped from a lack of contact with the outside culture.

            Apparently, the notion of cleaning up the outside culture and making it safe for children, so that your children can then have contact with it, is considered totally insane by such people.

      • Katherine
        February 16, 2014 at 7:19 pm

        Thank you. This article is so ridiculous, I can’t believe anyone would be so STUPID to think the parents are not to blame for allowing the kids to watch a show that is marketed to adults with adult ratings. Should we cater to all the idiot parents who allow their 6 year olds to channel surf while they get started on their nightly box of wine? No, learn some responsibility! This is an adult show, it comes on at 8pm or later. If you have kids under 8 who are up and watching tv unsupervised at this hour you are not a great parent, so point the finger at yourself.

    3. Kristine
      December 5, 2014 at 9:41 pm

      Do you honestly think this garbage is fine for adults? Just because they are old enough to choose their own programs and understand what is going on doesn’t mean they can’t be warped by it. The fact that people think it is okay for adults says something right there. And a responsible decent network wouldn’t want to show such trash.

    4. Eddie
      January 27, 2015 at 9:46 am

      American Dad is a satirical cartoon based in adult humor. If you let your kids watch it, that’s on you and not anyone else.
      There are such things as parental blocks on certain shows and networks that can be utilized if one is fearful of their kids watching the show without parental consent.
      The truth is that media is a market intended to make money. One can cry to the FCC all they want but it’s blind faith to think that they’re not making money either when they allow such content to be shown. They issue fines which is pretty much a slap on the wrist and nothing more. Think about it. They’re not on the side of the American people. They are on the side of the media industry because without it, they wouldn’t exist.

      • Christopher Gildemeister
        January 27, 2015 at 1:04 pm

        Broadcasters like Fox use the publicly-owned airwaves, and are legally prohibited from showing indecent material when children are likely to be in the audience. Why should parents have to jump through hoops to have their kids avoid harmful content, when Fox should just be following the law?

        • Brent
          February 3, 2015 at 10:44 am

          Mind citing which specific law(s) they’re breaking?

          • Christopher Gildemeister
            February 4, 2015 at 10:52 am

            Happy to, Brent.

            A History of Indecency Regulation
            The ability of the Federal Communications Commission to regulate profanity on the public airwaves has been at issue for almost a decade; and the origins of the regulation of inappropriate language on the airwaves go back to the earliest days of broadcasting.
            In the Communications Act of 1934 – the law which codified practices for the then-new business of radio broadcasting — Congress legislated that the broadcast airwaves belonged to the American people as a whole. Under the law, private broadcasters would be permitted to use this publicly-owned resource for profit, provided they did so “in the public interest.” The Federal Communications Commission was established to enforce the laws regulating the use of the airwaves. For the next four decades, the FCC very rarely intervened in matters of program content; but this was overwhelmingly due to the fact that broadcasters and the entertainment industry acted responsibly and did not air programs that were offensive or indecent.
            But after the social upheavals of the 1960s, some broadcasters chose to challenge the law and its concept of indecency. In 1973, a New York radio station owned by the Pacifica Foundation aired comedian George Carlin’s infamous “Seven Dirty Words” monologue, in which he listed the seven words which were not allowed on the public airwaves. Listeners complained, and the FCC reprimanded the station, though it did not impose a fine or curtail the station’s operation. Pacifica challenged the FCC’s action in the courts, and the case wound its way through the legal system. Finally, in the 1978 case FCC v. Pacifica, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the FCC’s actions had been appropriate, but the ruling also went further – the Supreme Court ruled that the government has a legitimate interest in protecting children from indecent media content. Under Pacifica, the current “safe harbor” system was put in place: programming containing potentially indecent material can only be broadcast between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. In the Pacifica ruling, the Court stated that, unlike books or newspapers, the broadcast airwaves are “uniquely influential and pervasive” in the lives of Americans, and that therefore government regulation of their content does not violate the First Amendment.
            Unfortunately, in the decades since the Pacifica decision the broadcast network’s standards have lowered, and the proscription of indecent content has been steadily eroded by the entertainment industry’s desire to “push the envelope.” Although more and more program content ignored broadcast decency laws, the FCC did nothing to halt the slide – until the Parents Television Council stepped in By urging the public to file formal complaints with the FCC, the PTC forced the regulatory body to take its responsibilities seriously and begin enforcing the laws against broadcast indecency. As a result of the PTC’s actions, the FCC started imposing fines on broadcasters who aired profanity or showed indecent content; but in many cases, broadcasters prevaricated and the FCC lagged on enforcement. Because during this period the FCC did not always fine every instance of questionable language, the networks pretended that they didn’t know which words were indecent. The networks claim that they asked the government to “clarify” the law by giving them examples of indecent language.
            Yet in 2003, the networks showed that their pretended ignorance of what kind of language constitutes indecency was a sham. An incident occurred that was so blatant it cried out for government action.
            During the 2002 and 2003 Billboard Music Awards broadcasts on the Fox network, Cher and Nicole Ritchie used the “f-word” and “s-word” openly, without any bleeping or alteration. Both words fall under the legal definition of indecency. The FCC – as is their legal obligation – fined Fox for airing these words in prime time, thereby giving the networks the clear example of indecency for which they had allegedly asked. But despite the blatant illegality of their actions, Fox did not then simply admit wrongdoing and pay a fine. Instead, Fox said that those instances were merely “fleeting expletives” (a particularly ridiculous claim, since by its very nature all speech is “fleeting”). Fox sued the FCC, arguing that they have the “right” under the First Amendment to air any kind of language they want, any time they want, without any penalty. Fox was joined in its lawsuit by other major broadcasters: ABC, CBS, NBC and Hearst-Argyle (an association of local broadcast stations).
            Once again, the case slowly wound its way through the courts, with the networks working the system until they found judges who would rule in their favor. When the Manhattan-based U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals heard the case, the PTC filed a friend of the court brief supporting the FCC, joined by other pro-family groups like Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America, Citizens for Community Values, the American Family Association of Michigan, and the Illinois Family Institute.
            Unfortunately, in June 2007 the Second Circuit Court found in favor of the networks and imposed their will on the nation, running contrary to nearly 80 years of settled jurisprudence about the publicly-owned airwaves and the overwhelming sense of the nation. Nearly a century of community decency standards were thrown out by two activist judges in New York.
            The Parents Television Council urged the U.S. Department of Justice and the FCC to appeal the case to the Supreme Court, arguing that unless the Court upholds previously established and longstanding law, the Commission’s power to protect the public interest would be severely undermined. In March of 2008 the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case during its 2008-2009 term. Once again the PTC filed a friend of the court brief, this time not only asking the Supreme Court to find in favor of the specific fines against Fox, but to reaffirm the constitutionality of the FCC’s ability to enforce broadcast decency.
            In its brief, the PTC made the points that broadcast television is still a “uniquely pervasive” influence in America; it is still uniquely accessible to children; and it still confronts the viewer in the privacy of the home, all points that the Supreme Court made in the Pacifica ruling. Furthermore, the PTC stated that, rather than arguing over precisely which words are indecent, broadcasters could and should adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards indecency. By implementing a five-second delay, especially during live broadcasts, the networks would greatly curb indecent programming on television, and would help to protect America’s children and families.
            Shortly thereafter, the broadcast networks showed their true colors, and demonstrated that they have absolutely no regard for the concerns of the millions of Americans whose airwaves they are permitted to use free of charge. On August 1st, 2008, ABC, CBS and NBC closed ranks with Fox and filed briefs defending Fox’s claim that airing the “f-word” and “s-word” was not indecent. These briefs even condemned the Pacifica ruling — and claimed that broadcasters should not be bound by any type of indecency law. In spite of testimony by network executives before Congress promising to abide by the indecency laws; in spite of pledges of zero-tolerance policies following Janet Jackson’s striptease during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show; in spite of signing consent decrees promising to adhere to the law; in spite of their legal briefs claiming that they would follow the indecency law if only they had clearer guidance from the FCC – in spite of all these promises to abide by the law, the networks now said that they should be able to air any profanity, any nudity, and any explicit sex, without any limit or any restriction, at any time, in any amount, in front of any audience.
            In making this astonishing statement, the broadcast networks claimed that, because of cable and satellite TV, broadcast TV was no longer “uniquely pervasive” – even though more than 98% of American homes own a TV that picks up broadcasts, more than receive cable or use the Internet. But even as the broadcast networks were telling the Supreme Court that the public airwaves are no longer “uniquely pervasive,” they were making millions of dollars in profit off broadcast TV every month – and were doing so by using a public utility free of charge.
            This desire on the part of those who use the publicly-owned airwaves was shown to be a matter of concern for all parents when, several months after the networks’ announcement, the PTC released a study of profanity on television. This study found that profanity on prime-time broadcast television not only increased tremendously since 1998, but that harsher profanity also became more common in the same period. More than a quarter of the expletives children hear unbleeped or partially-bleeped on broadcast television today are some form of the “f-word,” the “s-word,” or the “b-word.” After an expletive is first used on television, usage of the word quickly becomes commonplace, with the result that the broadcast networks then feel the need to up the ante with even more profanity. In total, nearly 11,000 expletives were aired during prime time on broadcast TV in 2007 – nearly twice as many as in 1998. As just one example, the “f-word” aired only once on prime-time broadcast TV in all of 1998 – yet it appeared 1,147 times on prime-time broadcast TV in 2007.
            By 2008, six of George Carlin’s “Seven Dirty Words” had aired unedited on broadcast TV during prime-time viewing hours. While the networks like to claim that the FCC’s enforcement of broadcast decency laws has a “chilling effect” on free speech, it is clear that in fact the opposite is true: the networks have become so permissive that the phrase “broadcast standards” is now an oxymoron.
            Even though there are many more forms of entertainment today than there once were — the Internet, mobile technology, iPods and the like – the Supreme Court’s wisdom and logic in its Pacifica decision still stands. Broadcasting is every bit as “uniquely pervasive” today as was in 1978. The American people have a right to expect that the publicly-owned airwaves be kept free of indecent material, as the law requires. A large majority (79%) of the American people — all Americans, not just those with children – believe that there is too much coarse language on TV. And an overwhelming number of adults believe that there should be tougher enforcement of decency rules on broadcast television.
            In 2012, the Supreme Court spoke loud and clear in upholding the principle of broadcast decency enforcement. Unlike most other cases in which the Court declines to hear an appeal (typically, the Court does not state a reason for declining), Writing for the Court, Chief Justice John Roberts openly stated that that the FCC can – and should – enforce laws against nudity and profanity on broadcast TV, and went on to note that “Until 2004, the FCC made a limited exception to this general policy for fleeting expletives. But the agency never stated that the exception applied to fleeting images as well, and there was good reason to believe that it did not. As every schoolchild knows, a picture is worth a thousand words; and CBS broadcast this particular picture to millions of impressionable children.” The Court put the networks on notice that, from now on, they should obey the FCC, and cannot count on the courts allowing them to get away with broadcasting indecency in the future: “It is now clear that the brevity of an indecent broadcast—be it word or image—cannot immunize it from FCC censure.”.
            Naturally, this still wasn’t the end of the issue, as the networks continued to try to find a way to evade the law. In June of 2013, the Fox network (along with the other networks and entertainment industry groups) demanded that the Federal Communications Commission “conclude it is legally required and logically bound to cease attempting broadcast indecency limits once and for all. They made their case by claiming that broadcast TV is no longer “uniquely pervasive.” With so many cable and satellite networks, websites, streaming video channels, and other entertainment options, they said, broadcast TV should be treated just like all the other channels – that is to say, not subject to decency laws – because broadcast TV is nothing special anymore. Unfortunately, the head of the National Association of Broadcasters himself said that’s not true. During his keynote address at the Association’s annual convention in 2012, NAB President Gordon Smith stated, “Even today, broadcast radio and TV are where the ears and eyeballs are. More than 46 million viewers rely exclusively on over-the-air TV. Of the top 100 prime-time shows, 95 of them are on broadcast TV, not cable networks.”
            At the urging of the networks, then-chairman of the FCC, Julius Genachowski, announced a new policy of taking action only against “egregious” violations of broadcast decency law. Genachowski refused to state what might constitute an “egregious” violation, nor did he give a compelling reason why some violations of federal law should be prosecuted when others are ignored.
            In response, over 100,000 American citizens filed comments with the FCC, demanding that the traditional indecency laws remain in place, and that the FCC move to enforce them. This was a humiliating blow for the networks – especially since they love to claim their programming is just “giving people what they want.” The fact that over 100,000 Americans took the time to navigate the FCC’s arcane public filing procedure to tell the regulatory agency to enforce the law speaks volumes. It proves very definitely that not everyone is a fan of the nudity, sex and explicit language the networks are shoving into homes over the airwaves owned by the American people. (This defeat was not reported in the news media – a media largely owned and controlled by the same corporate mega-conglomerates that own, and run, and profit from, the same entertainment industry that is impacted by decency laws.)
            In short: the American people have demanded, Congress has established, and the Supreme Court has confirmed, that broadcasts using the publicly-owned airwaves should be, and are, subject to laws against indecent content. Yet the networks continue to defy the law – and the Federal Communications Commission continues to let them.
            The entire purpose of the FCC has always been to regulate the use of the public airwaves. Are broadcasters suggesting that the American people should have absolutely no say over how the airwaves the people themselves own is used by private industry? This is like the owners of a pollution-belching factory saying, “The Environmental Protection Agency shouldn’t regulate air quality. If people don’t like what we’re pumping into the air, they can buy bottled oxygen. Or stop breathing.”
            The broadcast networks have clearly stated their belief that they are above the law, and that they need not take into account the wishes of the millions of Americans whose public property they are exploiting for their own profit. If broadcasters want to use the public airwaves to deliver their product to every home in the country for free – and make billions of dollars every year by doing so — then they must abide by the indecency laws demanded by the American people, prescribed by Congress, affirmed by the Supreme Court and enforced by the FCC.

            You can also watch this video for an explanation.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *