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There’s something about Ida
Seth MacFarlane is in the shit after his version of hosting the Oscars was not well received. Despite that and the general craziness that is Family Guy, Seth does have some redeemable qualities. Namely his position on same sex marriage and portrayal of transgender characters on Family Guy. Unfortunately his accurate portrayal of transgender characters has been missed by a large percentage of the population, indeed it took me a few seasons to actually get what the guy was unintentionally aiming for.
Despite his position on gay rights, MacFarlane has been heavily criticised for his portrayal of transgenderism in the Family Guy episode “Quagmire’s Dad” (and other episodes). In case you haven’t seen the episode, its main plot involved a characters father coming out as male-to-female transwoman (named “Ida”) and the reactions of the other characters which is less than favourable.
Some of the highlights of the episode include transphobic remarks from characters, a character vomiting in disgust after finding out he had slept with Ida, a character throwing out food made by Ida due to “contamination” and in one episode featured Ida being told she had to sleep outside with the dogs.
When asked about the episode and his reaction to the outrage within the queer community around the episode, Seth responded with the following “It always distresses me when I hear that the gay community is upset with us, because that’s one group of people I hope would know we’re on their side. I can safely say that the transsexual community will be very, very happy with the ‘Quagmire’ episode that we have coming up in a couple of months. It’s probably the most sympathetic portrayal of a transexual character that has ever been on television, dare I say.”
I agree with him that it is one of the better yet harsher views of transgender people I have seen. The episodes featuring Ida have been transphobic, offensive and the other characters treatment of her have been down right horrible – just like in real life. The episodes in question are an accurate portrayal of what transpeople go through on a regular bases. They are subjected to transphobic remarks, they are beaten, made fun of, asked inappropriate questions, they have been murdered, raped and kicked out of home. The episodes in question aren’t a statement on transgender individuals but a statement on the attitudes of people towards transgender people.
So Seth was well off the mark in the sense that he never informed the public that the episodes featuring Ida was a portrayal not of the character but a message about the wider worlds attitudes towards transgender people. Unfortunately the idiots of the world taken the message from the episode that the attitudes of the other characters around transgenderism is appropriate whereas the episodes are highlighting the horrible events transpeople can be subjected to.
Next time you watch the episodes with the character of Ida, look at the other characters attitudes and think to yourselves – is this how transpeople are really treated? Holy shit, yes. After you stop vomiting in disgust then you will realise that the social attitudes towards transpeople have a long way to go in order to be a positive force for the trans community.
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