Saturday, January 8, 2011

Losing Their Religion

In a 2005 episode of The Simpsons, Homer (briefly) became Catholic and confessed his multitude of sins. Surprisingly, the Catholic League didn't have a problem with this one.

TV Guide's cover story this week is "God on TV." And I must say, if you pardon the pun, they do a god-awful job of reporting on it. Those of you who may know me might also know I'm not a big fan of the conservative groups known as the Catholic League and the Parents Television Council (which are closely tied with each other), but I don't mind the fact that they got soundbites, since other organizations with differing opinions also did- and, thankfully, the article commended the "Grilled Cheesus" episode of Glee- which I thought did a good job showing that people of various religions (as well as those who don't believe) share common traditions, if not religious ones- as opposed to the Catholic League's ignorant and just plain wrong view of the episode as an anti-Catholic pro-atheist homofest. I also have a few qualms with their inclusion of The Simpsons and Family Guy. The Simpsons, created by an admitted agnostic, is both irreverent and reverent towards religion. It should be commended for its positive portrayals- which is was in the article- but the article overlooks that, as with everything satirized on the series, both organized religion and the trappings of religion in general are often poked fun at as incompetent and corrupt or just plain silly, respectively. Family Guy, created by an outspoken atheist, is only represented by a picture, but is an even odder choice for the article. Although the jokes towards religion were more sort of lighthearted jabs in the Simpsons vein in the early days of the series, MacFarlane and the show's writers have pulled no punches later on, making it clear that he believes religion period to be a load of BS. Take, for example, the two episodes that dealt with Judaism- the first, though Fox refused to air it at first, had rabbinical approval and a message of tolerance, while the second, which they DID air, not only poked fun at Schindler's List, among other things, but ended with a moral that "all religions are basically crap"- delivered by Jesus himself, no less.

I'm glad TV Guide pointed out the positive aspects of Glee to counter the Catholic League's just plain wrong opinion, and I'm glad The Simpsons was commended (as I think it should rightly be), but I'm surprised TV Guide or the interviewees didn't point out The Simpsons pokes lighthearted fun at some religious trappings and organized religion in general (as it does with everything), whereas Family Guy's jabs are certainly less than lighthearted in recent years. Hopefully someone will forgive TV Guide, since they've committed one of the worst sins of all- poor reporting.

THE SIMPSONS ™&©2011 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved. No ownership intended or implied.

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