Sunday, October 10, 2010

Family Guy: Return of Rush Limbaugh

Remember in the film Dogma where Ben Affleck’s head explodes at the sound of Alanis Morissette’s voice? I was amazed that the film’s writer and director, Kevin Smith, pulled off what appeared to be heckling Morissette pretty much right to her face. At the time I thought to myself, did she really not put that one together? However, since her appearance on Curb Your Enthusiasm in 2002, it’s clear that she probably just has a really healthy sense of humor.

It would appear that the emperor of conservative talk radio, Rush Limbaugh, takes a similar approach to cameo appearances in television. I like to think that Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane alludes the above mentioned style of celebrity-referencing humor in Family Guy Presents: Blue Harvest, his sensational spoof on Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. In Blue Harvest, Limbaugh is heard via space-AM talk radio attempting to debunk the claims of the “liberal galactic media” that the ice planet, Hoth, is melting and criticizing the black Lando Calrissian (portrayed in the original film series by Billy Dee Williams) as only being prosperous due to affirmative action. Like him or not, in this, Limbaugh exhibits his undeniably disarming sense of levity. I‘m not really into the whole far-right thing, but I gotta admit the guy cracks me up (he smiled for his mugshot when he was arrested in April of 2006 for drug charges). So you can probably guess that I’m excited to hear that he’ll be reappearing in Family Guy Presents: It’s a Trap!, MacFarlane’s upcoming spoof on Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Limbaugh will appear as the Rancor, the Goliath to Luke Skywalker’s David in the beginning of Return of the Jedi.

So the big question: what are the circumstances under which the admitted liberal MacFarlane would allow a cameo appearance to Limbaugh, a guy so right-wing that his name alone practically implies it? Limbaugh was a featured guest on a recent episode of Family Guy which aired Sunday October 3rd, and MacFarlane and Limbaugh are reported to have gotten along just fine during Limbaugh’s time spent at the studio. In fact, Limbaugh allegedly was greeted by a couple of conservatives on staff who both thought they were the only ones of their political persuasion in the building. In his own words, Limbaugh implied that he was invited to contribute to Family Guy and pretty much just plain anticipated to have a great laugh, and admits that he did. But don’t take his word for it; go watch the recent episode entitled “Excellence in Broadcasting” now at Fox’s website (…navigate yourself, webheads). Trust me, it’s funny, and you might be surprised at how brightly Limbaugh’s undeniable sense of humor shines.

So there you have it. Simply put, MacFarlane remains open minded to any high jinks which will preserve the show’s freshness. Love it or hate it, it is undisputable that Family Guy is effectively scandalizing, and these recent shenanigans of MacFarlane’s caught me COMPLETELY off guard, smiling, shaking my head and clapping. I’m joyfully fascinated with guessing how Rush’s big Star Wars scene will go down, if Luke will be dropped into the Rancor’s lair to find him sitting at a microphone with glasses and a collared shirt and torturing Luke with far-right remarks, or will the writers sneak in some caricatural quip poking fun at Rush, perhaps involving drug abuse, that he may not have seen coming while recording the dialogue? Mind you, Rush was offered to provide script approval of the episode, but let the Bush/Cheney bumper stickers on the backs of the imperial cruiser in Blue Harvest remind us of exactly what clever minds such as those behind Family Guy are capable of.

by Jack Burr

Jack Burr is a musician and actor from Oak Park, IL and currently residing in Chicago. He has performed at local venues including Double Door and Subterranean and at greater Chicagoland area venues such as Pete Miller's in Wheeling and Morgan's Charhouse in Winfield, and he will be featured in an upcoming wave of independent Chicago film productions.
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