End the duopoly

Seth MacFarlane is a major Democratic donor. What does his comedy say about his politics?

As the Los Angeles Times reported earlier this week, Seth MacFarlane is one of Hollywood’s most generous donors to liberal and left-wing political campaigns and causes. Since he began his philanthropy in 2005, MacFarlane has donated $4.6 million to liberal and progressive politicians and groups, including the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

“After MacFarlane contributed $2.5 million to Democrats in 2018, his company, Fuzzy Door Productions, was ranked second in Hollywood giving behind DreamWorks SKG and ahead of Disney, according to data from OpenSecrets.org, a nonprofit research group tracking money in U.S. politics,” the Times reported.

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Yet MacFarlane’s political bona fides go beyond putting his money where his mouth is. That mouth, which often incurs the ire of the left, sometimes justifiably, has also worked very hard, albeit with many missteps along the way, to tell intelligent and courageous progressive stories through his various pop culture properties.

Yes, there is “Family Guy.” The long-running animated series program has not been without its controversies across 17 seasons, particularly because its comic sensibilities cause it to tackle all manner of taboo subjects, and African Americans, Jews, women, members of the Latinx community, members of the LGBT community and virtually everyone else have at various points been targets of its jokes. The show has even acknowledged its problematic past, such as when patriarch Peter Griffin told a fictionalized Donald Trump in one episode that they were trying to “phase out the gay” jokes. Understandably, that gesture likely doesn’t erase the sting of such episodes as the one where family dog Brian vomits for 29 seconds after learning that he slept with a transgender woman — or MacFarlane’s later attempt to make up for that with a muddled episode of “The Orville” that clearly was reaching for transgender representation but failed — but it does illustrate that MacFarlane’s perspective is less calcified than many may realize.  […]

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