• An Open Letter to Matt Groening

    by  • August 7, 2014 • 4 Every Girl, Cable Choice, Ratings Reform, Sexualization, Violence • 30 Comments

    Dear Matt (with a copy to Seth MacFarlane),  simpsons1920

    There is nothing funny about rape.

    According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, an American is sexually assaulted every two minutes.  The damage, both physical and emotional, is incalculable.  Too many have suffered and too few of us have been spared the impact of these horrific crimes among our friends, family and people we love.

    So why is rape a punch line to you?

    In the upcoming crossover episode of The Simpsons and Family Guy, there is a cruel, callous “joke” about the rape of a character’s sister.  There may be other references to sexual assault that the public simply hasn’t been made aware of yet, but we do know about this one.  In fact, it’s already been widely disseminated on YouTube.

    Both The Simpsons and Family Guy are animated programs with a natural appeal, particularly to children.  Both programs enjoy a large viewership of children, despite the edgy and often irreverent material.  Moreover, every single episode of both programs has been rated by the FOX broadcast network as appropriate for children.

    Matt, I have been a fan of your work as far back as the mid-1980s when your strip appeared in the LA Weekly.  You are powerfully witty without resorting to the use of rape as a punch-line.  Seth has, unfortunately, used rape, molestation, pedophilia and other heinous crimes against children as humor, and he is now doing it routinely.  You’re better than that.

    I respectfully and humbly urge you not to allow “Springfield” to be a place where we are asked to laugh at humanity’s most heinous and disgusting crimes against children.  Please don’t allow your powerful platform to be used to desensitize your fans as to the horror of sexual exploitation.  Don’t our daughters, our children and grandchildren, and our families deserve better?

    There is nothing funny about rape.

    Sincerely and personally,

    Tim Winter

    cc:  Seth MacFarlane



    Tim Winter is president of the Parents Television Council. He has more than 20 years in broadcasting, cable, internet and new media technologies, along with a law degree.

    30 Responses to An Open Letter to Matt Groening

    1. Suzy Poulsen
      August 7, 2014 at 7:11 am

      So not cool!!! What a shame that kids have access to and actively seek out this kind of trash.

    2. William Hughes
      August 8, 2014 at 3:23 am

      There are those who say “If you don’t like what’s on TV either “change the channel” or “shut the TV off”. I suggesting taking it one step further, DON’T PAY FOR IT! (Yes, I know FOX is a over the air network that can be picked up for free) Nonetheless, even the over-the-air stations and networks rely on Pay-TV revenue to maintain financial stability. A loss of such revenue would hit them and their shareholders where it hurts the most, their pocketbooks! If you have a Pay-TV Subscription I STRONGLY suggest “cutting the cord” I.E. Cancel your Pay TV Subscription. And what should you do with what used to be your Pay TV money? Use it to purchase hundreds of Family-Friendly TV Programs and Movies on Home Video. Since cancelling my subscription in 2007 I have accumulated over 35,000 hours of family-friendly programming on home video, mostly DVDs. An additional bonus, you don’t need to cringe when a show your kids are watching goes to a commercial break, because their isn’t any commercials!

      • WP
        August 15, 2014 at 9:55 am

        Very good point! I’ve been considering this for years… but looks like this is the year I make the jump.

        Also, ANYONE who would say “If you don’t like what’s on TV, change the channel,” that is the same as saying “If you don’t like terrorism, don’t leave your bunker!” Just because I don’t allow it to infect my home and my children does not mean that my family is safe from its impact on the society we share. They really shouldn’t push this, the same laws that make cigarette smoking illegal in most indoor public places applies to the filth they lazily pander as entertainment: It’s poisonous to those who exercise their right not to use it!

    3. Sharon Carty
      August 8, 2014 at 3:47 am

      “Moreover, every single episode of both programs has been rated by the FOX broadcast network as appropriate for children”.

      Are they really serious about that?

      Thank-you so much Tim for writing this letter. Things really need to change.

    4. Theresa Krakauskas
      August 15, 2014 at 10:56 am

      While I was never a huge fan of animation, even as a kid, I’ve enjoyed The Simpson’s over the years. Some of the jokes are a bit adult & risquè, but I’ve never found much to be “offended” about. Joking about rape, however, shouldn’t be funny to anyone. I wonder how Mr. Groening would feel if, instead of a character’s sister, they changed it to his mother, wife, child or grandchild. I somehow don’t think he’d appreciate it too much.

    5. August 15, 2014 at 11:06 am

      I know that CBS has owned fox tv for many years now and since then, the programing has gone downhill. What used
      to be family viewing has gone the way of transistor radios. Bringing the worse of mankind into the homes of people is what the news is for. Family friendly shows must make people feel they are getting away from violence and pain.
      Family friendly shows do not make fun of rape, religion, obesity, bullying, or any other of the vile offenses man can do.
      Neither show is family friendly, funny or worth watching.

      • William Warfield
        August 15, 2014 at 4:47 pm

        CBS *never* owned Fox. CBS is owned by CBS Corporation (formerly “the old Viacom;” “the new” Viacom owns sister company Paramount Pictures, but they are all owned by the same conglomerate), and Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox, Inc. (formed when Rupert Murdoch, similarly, split up NewsCorp and is now using News Corp for print media and 21st Century Fox for entertainment media).

        But I *do* agree with you, 125%. I stopped watching “The Simpsons” a long time ago, especially when “Extreme Makeover, Home Edition” was on against it, but now that show, sadly, is history, and now I usually watch recordings of classic shows that were on MeTV earlier in the day at 8:00 P.M. Sunday nights (e.g. “The Phil Silvers Show,” which MeTV airs Sunday mornings for a full hour at 4:00 A.M. Eastern. Those of you who get MeTV and like this show, set your DVRs!).

        Why can’t there be more family-friendly shows like “Extreme Makeover” on Sunday nights now? Easy: *Greed* on the networks’ part.

        It *is* sad TV for family viewing has, in your words, “gone the way of transistor radios.” I’ll *never* watch Fox Broadcasting again, and I’m proud to say I have since *eliminated* the local Fox affiliate from my remote control after the PTC alerted us about that sick “Family Guy” “bank vault” episode (how disgusting!).

        There were some technicians on strike at the Fox station here in Detroit recently; they took out a billboard that read, “Turn off Fox 2 – It’s bad for its employees and families.” I think it should have read, “Turn off Fox 2 – It’s bad for its employees, families, and the public’s mental health!”

    6. brandon johantges
      August 15, 2014 at 11:12 am

      You do know that Matt Groening has had minimal to no involvement on The Simpsons for the past couple years. He really can’t do anything to change the episode. You are writing to the wrong person.

      • JB
        August 25, 2014 at 2:40 pm

        Whether he is writing the episode or not, he is still allowing it on the network.

    7. Sue Braunschweig
      August 15, 2014 at 11:55 am

      I can’t believe how bad TV has become over the years; it seems nothing is sacred or held back. And we have proof of it’s damage when listening to the news or reading the paper. It re-enforces this unacceptable behavior. Steve Allen was greatly opposed to sex and violence for children and took out personal ads in the papers; even full page ads. He’d roll over in his grave if he could see how bad it is now compared to decades ago. And with so many affluent families allowing TV in kids’ rooms, they’re going to watch it without supervision. I recall seeing a sitcom about a black family where the couple was shown in bed, just after having sex. Their little girl ran in the room wondering about the noise after hearing her dad yell ” I’m coming, I’m coming”. This was at 7PM, when many kids are still up. Do whatever you can to stop these situations from happening. Maybe then we will see less violence and crime attacks in the news.

    8. Linda
      August 15, 2014 at 1:34 pm

      What is Matt telling our children, that rape is ok? How would he feel if his wife, daughter or son were ever threaten by this horriable act. Matt think beyond the ratings this is not shock radio this is television treat WOMEN and family with respect.

      Thank you Tim, so very much!

    9. charlene graham
      August 15, 2014 at 1:36 pm

      TV has become obscene, everything centers around sex. there’s not much to watch, my husband and I watch ICarly and Sam and Cat. I am disgusted with the junky sexual programs kids are exposed to. the producers don’t care. I like UP TV, it’s wholesome programming. how can we get the obscene disgusting programs off the air? how can society say it’s ok? It’s not okay.

    10. prodigal48
      August 15, 2014 at 2:06 pm

      I don’t even think The Simpsons is always appropriate for children, much less Family Guy, which is nothing but a filthy piece of garbage aimed at destroying our children’s innocence.

      • Cmarie
        August 16, 2014 at 9:10 pm

        Couldn’t have summed it up better. I never allowed my kids to watch the Simpson’s – and to think parents are allowing their kids to watch obscene filth such as FG. Sad thing is, that Seth person is so sick and perverted he doesn’t care about how he affects others.

    11. Virgina
      August 15, 2014 at 3:10 pm

      Thank you, Tim. My plea to Matt is: Please consider the kind of ‘contribution’ you are making verses the one you have the potential to make. It appears that this program is actually ‘all about Matt’, being ‘edgy’, and trying to look ‘cool’. But it really looks as if the 7th grade boy’s bathroom is the only venue from which you can write. Please reconsider how much good you have the potential to contribute, instead of the ‘low life’ subtraction from society that is currently offered by the S’s. Virgina

    12. Constance
      August 15, 2014 at 4:16 pm

      Speaking as an adult victim of childhood sexual abuse I have to say – NOT FUNNY.

      And, yes, I already cut the cord on cable TV years ago because of the propagation of filth on the airwaves, because I don’t want my daughter seeing that garbage.

      Recommended viewing (online) – Australia’s Master Chef
      (So much better than the US version where contestants are seemingly encouraged to fight amongst each other and sometimes Ramsay can be such a jackwagon.)

    13. Susan
      August 15, 2014 at 4:32 pm

      Thank you Tim, for fighting for our future values. I have 2 grand dtrs aged 10 and 9 and I hate all the filth on tv, sex, violence,etc. Our future is in the hands of these kids and I want my grand kids to not be corrupted by filth. Women today are exploited and treated as objects. What used to be abnormal has become normal in some of the worlds eyes. I wonder where the conscience is for the people who make these shows.

    14. Gena
      August 15, 2014 at 5:31 pm

      Is there a petition we sign protesting this and vowing not to view it? While PTC is great, Change.org is far-reaching and could spread the word to more people. Family Guy is the cesspool of TV and I refuse to watch it. Normally I am a “change the channel” person, but using The Simpsons as a way to spread Family Guy sick so-called humor to children and even unsuspecting adults makes me cringe.

      Rape is reprehensible, and it is certainly NOT funny.

      Mr. Groening, you and The Simpsons are better than rape and other sick “jokes”. Mr. Macfarlane, I sadly wish you and your show were, too.

      • Chris Ryder
        September 25, 2014 at 2:46 pm

        Yes, there is now an action to take. Send a message to Fox Broadcast Network at http://bit.ly/PTCAction9242014 and spread the word.

    15. Gilligan's Island fan
      August 15, 2014 at 11:44 pm


      I think it’s a great letter. I am not familiar with the specific situations you write about, but as for the letter itself, I think it’s excellent.

      I have watched The Simpsons several times and at times I have enjoyed the zany humor of it. I refuse to watch “Family Guy” at all ever because it is way too obscene– and that statement is coming from someone who really doesn’t mind nudity/sensuality in tasteful work (or even a fairly violent action/crime saga, when and where it is appropriate); so for me to say that “Family Guy” isn’t good enough to contaminate my waste-bucket with is really saying something.

      Gore and obscenities going to the extreme in all kinds of media these recent years is more than an outrage; it’s a waste of missing entirely the huge market of people who just want to relax, unwind, and share jokes in a comfortable, tasteful environment– something remotely like “Gilligan’s Island” and other perfectly clean humor and entertainment.

      We all have stressful jobs and other elements in our lives; we don’t need toxic waste on TV too.

      Thank you again, Tim, for your highly commendable efforts. I wish even more people would follow your lead.

    16. maureen
      August 16, 2014 at 8:23 am

      Our present society does not value children…look at the filth and garbage passed off as “family entertainment.” Parents need to supervise what their children are watching AND listening to. Stop paying for garbage, and don’t buy from companies that support and supply the filth. Maybe if enough people did not “support” this crud, the money-loss would hurt, and lead to a change for the better.

    17. Elsa
      August 16, 2014 at 8:34 am

      Enough with edgy themes. Rape is NOT Ok! This is not entertainment. This is filth.

    18. G. Clements
      August 16, 2014 at 4:11 pm

      Rape of a child, male or female adult must be treated with sensitiviy & dignity.—It’s time the writeres seek another job.

    19. Cmarie
      August 16, 2014 at 9:13 pm

      Thanks Tim for putting children first. Funny thing is as much as we need to protect them from the repugnant filth of this day, adults should be mindful as well not to allow trash into their own hearts & minds. Our All Wise Lord knew of such things when He commanded, do not be conformed by the ways of this world but let your mind be transformed by the Holy Spirit. (paraphrase)

    20. Mary Anne
      August 18, 2014 at 6:31 am

      Thank you, Tim, for saying what so many people are feeling! I don’t know of anyone that thinks sexual crimes are funny in any respect, and am appalled that this particular show will feature jokes about rape! Mr.Groenig may believe this type of content will get him ratings, but in reality, he is losing more than he’s gaining in viewership. People are fed up with offensive, rude, trashy, sexually charged shows. The ignorance of programmers today is unbelievable. We pick and choose the programs we will watch, and turn off the ones that turn out to be offensive. I have found Internet TV to be a great alternative to the main channels, and UP TV always has good content. We are considering dropping our cable service totally, using a digital antenna again, and pulling what we want from the Internet. I’m just happy that my children grew up before things got this bad. I feel bad for the people who are raising kids today. How do you protect them 24/7 from the filth that comes across your TV?

    21. Dana
      August 19, 2014 at 7:54 am

      Did you know that the Discovery Fit & Health channel is having a “SEXtember” theme? ENOUGH ALREADY! Used to be such a fun and interesting channel to watch….

    22. Ken Obuszewski
      August 23, 2014 at 4:34 am

      It is disgusting to use animation to attract children to watch so that these people can then promote their God less agendas

    23. Frank
      August 29, 2014 at 8:42 am

      You guys must be a blast at parties.

      • PTC-CR
        August 29, 2014 at 9:59 am

        Actually, the whole crew here at the Parents Television Council has lots of fun. We just understand that when children are watching or nearby, adults need to be very aware of what children see or hear. Responsible adults have understood this for thousands of years. Somehow, many networks have decided is it acceptable to rate shows with adult content (with sexual behavior, profanity, extreme violence) as appropriate for kids, with some shows even on cartoons.

        We, as do most parents and grandparents (when they know about it), have a problem with this and we work to educate families, advertisers, public officials and concerned citizens about the broken trust that the networks have embraced. Our children are too important to not do anything.

        Feel free to join us at http://www.parentstv.org/joinus.

    24. January 6, 2017 at 10:21 am

      Matt Groening, I enjoy watching ‘The Simpsons’ and ‘Futurama’ back when I was growing up.
      I’ve heard that ‘The Simpsons’ is going off the air pretty soon, but I’ve been wanting to see my new couch gag;

      It starts off that there was no couch and there was no message about it. When the Simpsons ran into the room, Homer ran to the spot where the couch sits at, but Marge, holding Maggie, Lisa, and Bart just stood behind him and in front of the TV.
      In a few seconds, the couch bounces on Homer 4 times and Homer cries out ‘D’oh!’ 4 times that same time, and Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie, still standing in front of the TV, watched the couch bouncing on Homer.

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