May 18, 2009

Quahog colonists in Family Guy

In Peter's Progress (airdate: 5/17/09), the season finale of Family Guy, Peter learns how his hometown--Quahog, Rhode Island--was founded. Here's the plot:Peter has a psychic palm reading and discovers he led a past life as Griffin Peterson, a dignified gentleman who followed the beautiful Lady Redbush from 17th century England, where the fierce King Stewart III reigned supreme, to the newly founded American colony of Quahog to win her heart.This episode was a pretty good satire of the British monarchy and the American colonists. But...when Peter first sets foot upon America, his friend Quagmire calls it a "wilderness." They immediately claim it for their own and start building a town.

The problem with this? No Indians. Any program that calls America a wilderness and then show plucky colonists "taming" and "civilizing" it is a falsification of history. It's the umpteenth example in a long line of pro-colonizing propaganda.

A clever person might respond, "Well, if they had included Indians, wouldn't you have criticized that too?" Answer: Yes, if they were stereotypical. But Peter's Progress could've included non-stereotypical Indians in the story's context.

How to fix Family Guy

Here's one way the creators could've done it. Every time a colonist uttered something such as "It's a wilderness," a chorus of authentic-looking Indians could've popped up and contradicted them. This could've been a quick 'n' easy running joke throughout the episode.


Colonist: "It's a wilderness." Indians: "No it's not."

Colonist: "Our beautiful home in our beautiful land." Indians: "Our home, our land."

Colonist: "And so everyone lived happily ever after." Indians: "No we didn't."

The Indians could say a lot more about the colonists' genocidal actions, but that probably wouldn't be funny. What would be funny is Peter's pushing them back into the bushes they came from. It would almost be like a game of Whack-a-Mole.

Incidentally, don't waste my time telling me Family Guy is just a TV show. I know that. I also know that every form of entertainment--from books to plays to movies to TV shows--has contributed to our national mythology. These ideas don't materialize out of thin air; they're conveyed from generation to generation through the media.

For more on the subject, see TV Shows Featuring Indians.

Below:  The colonists discover a "wilderness."


dmarks said...

A simple enough change would have been to take Quagmire off the deck of the ship and instead have them meet an Indian version of Quagmire. Speaking some sort of Native language peppered with "jiggity", of course.

Rob said...

For more on the subject, see Quahogs, Wampum, and Family Guy.

Anonymous said...

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