Comedian Seth MacFarlane spoke out on Friday about “Family Guy” clips that have gone viral in the aftermath of Caitlyn Jenner’s high-profile debut on the cover of Vanity Fair earlier this month.
In the wake of the Jenner cover, jokes about her gender and sexual identity from the irreverent animated TV series, which MacFarlane created, were widely shared on the Internet. One segment from 2009 shows the character Stewie Griffin calling Jenner “an elegant, beautiful Dutch woman,” while another portrays a pre-transition Jenner dancing effeminately for troops abroad while wearing a pink boa.
While promoting his upcoming movie “Ted 2” on a conference call with the press, MacFarlane made his first public comments about the meme. “Once the outrage industry shuts down, I will be happy to have an adult conversation about all of this stuff anytime anyone wants, but, even though I’m on the side of support, I just don’t think there’s any way to … you just got to play it safe because the climate is just too charged. Anything I say can and will be used against me,” said MacFarlane.
“My philosophy is live and let live, and if something makes someone happy, and they’re able to do it – as long as it isn’t hurting anybody – live and let live,” he added.
MacFarlane has frequently courted controversy with comedic material that some critics have deemed racially insensitive and sexist. His one-time stint hosting the Academy Awards in 2013 drew considerable backlash and his shows have been the subject of numerous FCC complaints. When it comes to his portrayal of the trans community, the advocacy group GLAAD sees MacFarlane’s “humor” as anything but a laughing matter.
A 2010 episode of “Family Guy” called “Quagmire’s Dad” which portrays a trans character, caught their attention after several LGBT blogs called it out for being “shockingly insensitive.” For his part, MacFarlane argued at the time that the episode featured a “very sympathetic portrayal of a transsexual character.”
On Friday, he said, “Nobody sets out to – at least I don’t – nobody sets out to offend or shock for the sake of shocking. You set out to get laughs.”