It seems today that all you see is violence in movies and sex on TV. But where are those good old-fashioned values on which we used to rely? Lucky there’s a family guy, lucky there’s a man who positively can do all the things that make us laugh and cry. He’s a family guy!
You’ve probably heard the theme song, if you haven’t you’ve probably at least heard the title of the show before; ‘Family Guy’. Family Guy is an adult animation with a similar design to a television show you’ve definitely heard of; ‘The Simpsons’, only Homer is even more inappropriate, Marge has less concern for the family, Bart is a bigger slob, Lisa has more insecurities, Maggie is basically the epitome of improper and evil, oh and Santa’s Little Helper can talk and is essentially the most stable character on the show.
If you’ve seen the show before you’d know the theme song is being extremely sarcastic, the ‘he’ in reference is Peter Griffin (the more inappropriate Homer) who is definitely not a man who ‘positively can do all the things that make us laugh and cry’. No, while Peter’s antics have definitely made audiences laugh and cry, they’ve rarely done so in a positive way. The theme song is ironically implying that we’re lucky to have a family guy and family show like ‘Family Guy’ on TV because everything else is unsuitable for children. If you haven’t seen Family Guy before don’t listen to the theme song and believe it… do not show your children this program!
Family Guy is the perfect representation of some of the most recent anxieties in relation to media, such as highlighting the loss of innocence in infant character Stewie.
Stewie is a one-year-old who is particularly literate, can speak arguably at a more intellectual standard than his older siblings, yet at the same time cannot use a toilet on his own and is obsessed with children’s television shows aimed at the one to four-year old audience. Stewie is shown in various episodes to be violent, murderous, interested in sex, confused about his sexuality and he even develops an attraction to world domination. Not exactly regular behaviours of a one-year-old… and certainly not even desirable characteristics of child of any age. Stewie’s character is concerning, but if his personality was depicted in an adult character would the audience question any of these behaviours? Of course not.
Sex and violence are two of the most common and entertaining actions that we witness in the media. Particularly television and movies, but also in reality where sex-scandals and aggressive acts can get the world talking. Family Guy pushes the boundaries by taking controversial topics that many of us in today’s desensitised world would consider ‘normal’ and finding a way to make these topics disputable again.
Hearing and seeing sex and violence through the mouth and the hands of a small child, though unrealistic, really highlights the fact that with the influence of the media children are being exposed younger and younger to these ideas. As a twenty-year-old in 2015, my primary school years were spent without Internet, my mother censored my television usage and so bar what I heard other children speaking about at school I wasn’t exposed to the array of sex and violence readily available for curious minds today. My eleven year old sister has almost 24 hour access to either her own iPad or the family MacBook, where she wouldn’t even have to search these topics if the ‘block pop-ups’ feature wasn’t enabled and clicking on the wrong link could bring pop-ups of porn and other obscenities.
The question posed from this very obvious difference in not exactly ‘what’ is being shown in the media, but more specifically; how much access we have to the media, due to emerging technologies is ‘how do we keep our children innocent?’ Is it actually possible to do so when they’re constantly being exposed to the adult world, or at least are constantly being given the tools used for exposure at such a young age?
These questions do not have one answer, but generally unless you keep your child home-schooled with no access to television or Internet or media then it’s almost impossible to keep them innocent. That ‘birds and the bees’ talk is going to have to happen sooner for your children than it had to happen for you and you might have to explain war and murder and violence to your child before they turn five because it’s almost impossible to keep their little mind’s in the dark when violent images are spread almost everywhere.
If media and technology keep progressing at the rate they have over the past ten years it doesn’t seem impossible that by the time I have children in ten years that my one-year-old could be as exposed to sex and violence to the degree of little Stewie Griffin. Sure it would be great to have a child prodigy who could speak fluently and understand intellectual concepts by age one, but I can’t say I’d enjoy my child knowing about the perverted and brutal adult world before they needed to.
The innocence of children is one of the most beautiful things that as adults we can never experience again. Let’s not take that innocence earlier than we need to, let’s make every effort we can to preserve it. Let’s take preventative measures to make sure our children aren’t plotting world domination twelve months into their lives. We need to encourage play and a balance between online learning and leisure and the old-school methods that our grandparents experienced. While we may not be able to stop the loss of innocence completely, we can preserve it and encourage it in certain ways and as eighteen to twenty-year-olds in today’s society it really is something we need to think about when we start having families in the next five to ten years or so.