brotherpeacemaker

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The Cleveland Show

theClevelandShow

The Cleveland Show, the Family Guy spin off launched as part of the new television season on the FOX network, is yet another vehicle for the white community to define black people.  It was created by Seth MacFarlane who produced Family Guy along with American Dad.  The animated show features the often emasculated Cleveland Brown who moved from Quahog, Rhode Island.  The Cleveland Show will be an animated series focusing on the character of Cleveland Brown and his new family as Cleveland moves from Rhode Island to Stoolbend, Virginia.  His new family includes his high school sweetheart, now second wife, Donna Tubbs, Donna’s teenaged daughter Roberta Tubbs, Donna’s five year old son Rallo Tubbs who will no doubt be the shows most outrageous character, and Cleveland’s son Cleveland Jr., also from the Family Guy.

The voice of Cleveland Brown is played by Mike Henry who will also do the voicing for Rallo.  While the main character is played by a white guy, the voices for the rest of the family characters are voiced by black actors.  Most notable is Sanaa Lathan who will play Donna Tubbs.  Roberta Tubbs will be played by Reagan Gomez-Preston.  Cleveland Jr. will be played by Kevin Michael Richardson.

I have to admit that I used to be a Family Guy fan.  I tolerated the blatant racist stereotypes believing that the show exploited all racial stereotypes as well as the stereotypes associated with gender, sexual orientation, political beliefs, ethnic heritage, and the like.  For example, I laughed like a fiend when Asian reporter Tricia Takanawa went to interview an animated David Bowie when he suddenly and unexpectedly held his index finger to her lips and seductively said, “Shhhh!  Oh baby, just you shut your mouth.”  And when Ms. Takanawa responded by jumping around excitedly then falling to her knees, grabbing David Bowie’s leg and said in an exaggerated Asian accent, “Ooooh!  Me love to meet Ziggy Stardust!  I take you home!  I make you fish ball soup!  Fish ball!”  The obvious play was off my most favorite David Bowie song Little China Girl.

But when I saw the episode titled Cleveland-Loretta Quagmire I had had enough.  The Cleveland character was often emasculated by his wife Loretta.  But in this particular episode she cheats on Cleveland with his friend the sex maniac Glen Quagmire.  It was a running gag that Quagmire was after Lois Griffin, Peter Griffin’s wife.  But Lois was always able to resist Quagmire’s advances.  Loretta Brown shows no prudence and gave it up to Quagmire at the first opportunity.  And then when confronted by Cleveland, Loretta brazenly explains she needed a real man in the stereotypical, side to side, head moving style often associated with black women and their infamous attitudes.  It was at that very moment I turned the channel and never looked back.  From what I understand, that final humiliation leads to Cleveland and Loretta’s divorce.

So now Cleveland gets his own show.  All I can imagine is that the humiliation of a black character that used to be just a side bit on the Family Guy now moves to center stage.  I’m sure many people will find it hilarious.  Most people usually find such racially stereotypical comedy humorous.  I have little doubt that this particular cartoon has the potential to do just as well as any other.  Seth McFarland will no doubt be remembered as one of our animation geniuses.  The Family Guy and American Dad already account for a billion dollar franchise.  The Cleveland Show is sure to compound the wealth.

But nevertheless, we have another sample of the same pattern of prejudiced behavior that has plagued the black community since black people were brought here in chains against their will.  White people will have yet another opportunity to shape our understanding of the black community.  If Seth McFarlane is calling the shots I would not be surprised if every writer, director, commercial artist, and every other supporting role would be void of black people.  If anything, I’d be surprised to see if black people are hired in numbers representing anything coming close to accurately reflecting black population percentages.  I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the only black people affiliated with this show are the three voice actors previously mentioned.  Nope, I’m pretty sure that this is just another exploitation of black people for laughs in typical operating procedure.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009 - Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black Culture, Black People, Life, Racism, Thoughts

10 Comments »

  1. It’s an animated TV show. I love South Park because they make fun of EVERYBODY, including Black People. Same for Family Guy. That’s what makes it fun to watch. Then they give the one Black character his own show and you complain? And bring up slavery? Come on now! Have a sense of humor!

    The first episode of the Cleavland Show wasn’t the greatest ever but it was okay, a decent start. If it starts to suck I won’t watch it but I’m also humbled enough to laugh at jokes about Black people that aren’t blatantly hateful.

    You even state you found the joke about the Asian reporter (the only reoccurring Asian character on the show) funny, but when they make fun of Black people oooooh no! They’ve gone too far! Hypocritical much?

    Comment by Chris | Wednesday, September 30, 2009 | Reply

    • Having written an extensive paper on South Park and the tactics and philosophies of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, I can assure you that it miles above the base-level mindless monotonous entertainment that is Family Guy. They aren’t similar. Seth MacFarlane doesn’t even deserve to clean their shoes.

      I’m in agreement with the author. The show is modern blackface, with a white creator and white voice actor playing a black man and trying to pretend like can even fathom what it’s like to be black, or what’s actually funny and making a statement. MacFarlane has a platform but he does nothing with it. He makes quips about the racism rampant in society but never elaborates or actually addresses the problems, he only does it to get a quick cheap laugh and pretend like his work is actually meaningful and valuable somehow. And without addressing the stereotypes he flashes it’s essentially just perpetuating them as valid, which is incredibly harmful and racist.

      He’s a hack.

      And as far as black characters being portrayed / having their own show equaling less racism, I’d disagree. I’d encourage you to research Minstrel shows (the grandparent of the modern American musical, by the way). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minstrel_show It’s pretty disturbing stuff.

      Comment by Lionel | Sunday, May 5, 2013 | Reply

  2. Thanks for the feedback Chris,

    “Hypocritical much?”

    Unfortunately sometimes I am. It is a human weakness. It takes courage to admit a weakness or to admit to errors in one’s past. But I’m sure you would never admit to your own instances of weakness. I added the story about me laughing at the Tricia Takanawa bit to admit the fact that I had found the show funny at times. But those days have past. My character has grown up a bit. I doubt if you have enough content to your character to understand.

    Head up the ass much? Otherwise, you would see that Asians don’t have to deal with the negative stigmatisms associated with their stereotypes the way the black community has to deal with black stereotypes. Black people are often considered violent and untrustworthy and thus the victims of a justice system cocked ready to trounce black people’s rights.

    Dumb ass much? Otherwise, you would understand that just because it is a black character created by white people, voiced by white people, written and produced by white people, doesn’t make it something the black community can be proud of. Minstrel shows typically had white people pretending to be black. I guess the black community should have sat back and enjoyed those shows as well.

    Peace

    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Wednesday, September 30, 2009 | Reply

  3. Brotherpeacemaker,

    Didn’t you know that ANY representation of a black person in the media should be celebrated by blacks? NOT! If this is the case then we should love COPS, Jerry Springer and Maury too.

    Leave it up to the senseless to try and tell someone that just because it is all in fun, we should have a sense of humor about it and let it be. Well if my memory serves me correctly, I have seen a LOT of happy looking faces of white people standing next to lynched black men.

    It seems that lynching the poor black fellow was all in fun. So should we have sat back and had a sense of humor about it? Hell NO! This person is probably one of the same people telling blacks that noose hanging is nothing but a joke and we should just lighten up and have a sense of humor.

    Maybe Chris should be a bit more serious and not think everything is always so damn funny. Oh and brotherpeacemaker, you forgot one for Chris, jig much? Because the jiggin’ must stop!

    Comment by theblacksentinel | Wednesday, September 30, 2009 | Reply

  4. I think we should use Boondocks as a point of comparison here. Boondocks is a satire of not only black representations in media, but also a satire of how we sometimes self-identify because of those representations (Riley) or in response to them (Huey).

    I frequently find Family Guy funny because I think, at its best, it is trying to be a satire as well. However, the show it was at the start is not the show it is now. It’s now a complete farce. If we understand satire to be a direct hit on the bullseye with one bullet, than farce is spraying the target with a tons of bullets and never once hitting the bullseye.

    In that sense, that Family Guy mocks everyone actually IS the problem because it fails to make any real point in the process. They are racist, sexist jokes, not jokes about racism or sexism. That difference may be a fine one, but it is still a difference.

    With Boondocks, its clear what the point is and the humor is rooted in its exaggerated truth. Riley is hilarious, but he’s also a very real statement about how young black people do get some of their ideas of what they should be from television and music.

    All that said – my problem with The Cleveland Show is that it’s all there is. It’s yet another instance where an ill-prepared show is the only show to represent black people. If TV networks had any interest in creating diverse images of black people, The Cleveland Show’s impact could be mitigated (though still DEEPLY problematic).

    We need to develop our own shows and we need to support them. Otherwise, this is the problem we will continue to have.

    Comment by Tyler | Thursday, October 1, 2009 | Reply

  5. How about this- we stop watching tv, read a book, and stop looking to be entertained. We should look to be enlightened and educated!

    Comment by Obaneke | Thursday, October 1, 2009 | Reply

  6. Actually, there’s nothing wrong with being entertained. That’s what a lot of people read books for. But it would by prudent if we all used a little more discretion in what we choose to be entertained by. There are a ton of good programs on television that offer a good education and entertainment value. The Cleveland Show isn’t one of them.

    Peace

    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Thursday, October 1, 2009 | Reply

    • Ase. I agree with you, alot of these programs should come with an I.Q. level accompaining them verse MPAA rating

      Comment by Obaneke | Thursday, October 1, 2009 | Reply

  7. Excellent post. I totally agree. By far the most offensive Family Guy episode is The Cleveland Loretta Quagmire. I feelit’s a culmination of the show’s failed attempts at pretending it makes fun of everyone when it truthfully only makes fun of minorities. When jokes surround characters like Cleveland or Loretta (just look at how they are drawn!) or the Asian news reporter or the black meteorologist who’s segment is called The Blackie News something or other. And there’s the Portugese men who work for Peter every blue moon but are consistently insulted when they do make an appearance, and I’m sure there’s more. Having only recently learned that their are no Black voice actors on Family Guy was a shock. I don’t think there’s any way MacFarlane and crew are not racist. I wonder how America would respond to a TV show or animated program created by Black people that casts Black actors in all of the white character roles.

    Comment by Mel | Sunday, January 5, 2014 | Reply

  8. Have not really watched a cartoon since the early 70’s. Happen across an episode of the Cleveland Show for the first time. I thought it was hilarious. Pulled up several other episodes… excellent. Comedy is comedy. Even though Cleveland is really white.. he is the blackest cartoon black man I know!

    Comment by Charles Williams | Wednesday, February 12, 2014 | Reply


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