When is it appropriate to joke about the sexual assault of a teenage girl? The answer, of course, is “never.”
“It has been several years since we last documented content on Family Guy that included jokes about sexual assault; and it was our sincere hope that the show’s producers had forever put such content in their rearview mirror. Sadly we were wrong,” said PTC President Tim Winter. The latest episode of Fox Broadcast Network’s Family Guy depicted the sexual assault of the animated character Meg Griffin, a high school teenager. The episode at issue aired on Sunday, January 13th at 9:00 pm Eastern/Pacific time, 8:00 pm Central/Mountain time, and was rated TV-14 DLSV.
“Ironically, it was only yesterday that Family Guy‘s executive producers acknowledged some content as no longer being publicly acceptable. They said they aren’t planning to use any more jokes targeted at gay people. ‘If you look at a show from 2005 or 2006 and put it side by side with a show from 2018 or 2019, they’re going to have a few differences. Some of the things we felt comfortable saying and joking about back then, we now understand is not acceptable,’ producer Alec Sulkin said in an interview with TV Line.
“Sulkin is 100% right. But has he not learned anything from #MeToo? The fact that this program content was used for political satire doesn’t make it right. And justification that the show has similarly satirized politicians from both sides of the political aisle is equally baseless. Washington, DC may be a political circus, but the producers do not have to prove their point by depicting a teenage girl being sexually assaulted, regardless of partisan stripe.
“We are deeply troubled by the potential impact to children who may become desensitized to, or who will trivialize, real-life consequences of such horrendous conduct. We call on the producers to heed their very own words and refrain from using ‘sexual assault for laughs’ ever again. And we call on the Fox Network executives who approved this content to take a careful look in the mirror,” Winter concluded.
A 2015 PTC research report about Fox Broadcasting’s Family Guy found that 79 percent of all the sexually violent scenes that aired on the prime-time broadcast TV show between 2012-2015 were perpetrated on children and teens. Nielsen ratings show Family Guy has been one of the most-watched shows on television by children ages 12-17 and even as young as 2-11.