Details: Sarah Palin said the episode that featured a character with Down syndrome was like a kick in the gut.
Seth MacFarlane: I would never kick a pregnant woman in the gut. Surprise!
Details: Does any of the criticism get to you?
Seth MacFarlane: The only way it gets to me is that it demonstrates a deterioration of the power of restrained, critical, rational thought that was once more ubiquitous in our society. In the sixties and seventies there was such a high regard in this country for the achievements of human beings in science, in technology, in space exploration. And in some ways we've turned into this wimpy, astrology-loving, angel-loving, pseudoscientific culture that no longer has that ability. We've gotten lazy in our willingness to use our brains.
Details: You're obviously not afraid to be controversial. Is anything off-limits?
Seth MacFarlane: It's a case-by-case thing. If there's something that feels to us to be just too tasteless because of the immediacy of the events—for a long time, obviously, we couldn't go near 9/11—the writers discuss it. There have been jokes pitched that seemed too mean to specific people. But the question is always: Is it smart enough and funny enough that it warrants being as abrasive as it is?
Details: Speaking of 9/11, you were booked on the first plane that hit the Twin Towers, but you missed the flight. Does that seem like fate to you?
Seth MacFarlane: No. I had missed other flights before. I'm chronically late for things. Coincidences do happen. Carl Sagan said that we are "significance junkies." We love to attach patterns to everything we see. Not everything has meaning to it. I can't afford to let it turn me into somebody who suddenly believes that he's being watched over by a higher power. It's kind of arrogant; that's a lot of bandwidth for whoever is up there to have to maintain at any given time—Andy Dick alone would take up so much time and energy.
Details: Family Guy tackled gay marriage in its fourth season—two years before Prop 8.
Seth MacFarlane: The ridiculous thing about something like Prop 8 is that it will be overturned. They put something like $40 million into that campaign, and they might as well have just bet all that money on the Red Sox. It's wasted money because that civil-rights battle will be won eventually. They'll just have to sulk in a corner and accept the fact that gays will be able to marry each other. Every civil-rights conflict—black people, women—comes to an end in the right way.
Details: You predicted that another episode—about a transgendered character—would make the LGBT community happy. It didn't.
Seth MacFarlane: That surprised me. I don't meet a lot of stupid homosexuals. They seem to be a pretty smart bunch. But it seemed that they were not picking up on the fact that it was a very sympathetic portrayal of a transsexual character.
Details: Maybe the fact that Brian barfs his guts out when he realizes he's had sex with a transsexual threw them off.
Seth MacFarlane: Hey, we're still Family Guy.We're not suddenly going to become 7th Heaven. Actually, I guess on 7th Heaven they would probably burn the transsexual at the stake. Let me think of another example. We're not Mr. Belvedere. Look, Brian happens to be a heterosexual character, as I am. If I found out that I had slept with a transsexual, I might throw up in the same way that a gay guy looks at a vagina and goes, "Oh, my God, that's disgusting." It's just the way we're biologically wired. They should give that another look.
Details: Why are penises so funny?
Seth MacFarlane: I think that's a result of ingrained taboos. If, from the get-go, penises weren't classified by our culture at large as something naughty, it wouldn't be as funny. So the puritans who are trying to crush this brand of humor should really just say, "Fuck it!" whip their dicks out, and it'll go away.
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