Monday, March 29, 2010
March 31st marks the 5 year anniversary of the death of Terri Schiavo. The case that got so many families talking about their end of life preferences comes back into the media now in an unexpected way.
To commemorate the anniversary, Family Guy, a Fox Network animated series, aired a short spoof on the case, Terri Schiavo: The Musical. Below is the episode. (It's just the first minute or so of the episode.)
Tasteless? Insensitive to all parties concerned? Disrespectful of the deceased? You can be the judge. I guess we all have different senses of humor. Not quite historically accurate. (I pointed out to my husband how it was medically incorrect. His response was "Amber, I think they were going more for rhyming than medical accuracy.") But is it too soon? Will it always be?
Having watched Family Guy before, I think that it is clearly meant to shock. To make us say out loud "They did not just do that?". As I am sure there will be some upcoming media about this anniversary, Family Guy probably sees that all press is good press. And they have gotten press over this. Schiavo's family was understandably enraged by the episode and many different family members have been quoted stating as much, calling for Fox to drop the series.
Family Guy isn't the only animated series to take on this topic. March 30, 2005, just 12 hours before Schiavo's death, South Park aired the episode "Best Friends Forever" (This is the link is to the episode. It may be offensive to some viewers as South Park always is.), also a spoof of the controversial case. They actually won an Emmy for this episode. There is some interesting commentary on the state of modern medicine. Even if South Park isn't your taste, I recommend watching it. It actually seems to be more making a point than trying to shock the audience.
So am I offended? Not really. I likely would be if it was my family member they were talking about. It honestly makes my inner palliative care doctor cringe a bit to think of the family having to see this, regardless of what my views may be. But I have seen much more offensive material come out of both of these series. They have poked fun at about every controversial issue out there and will continue to do so. No one would even bother if these issues didn't not raise so much emotion already. Maybe it should be an honor to get this kind of attention. It means enough people care.