“He’s Adorable”: Representations of People with Dwarfism in Family Guy
Keywords:Dwarfism; Family Guy; Disability Humour; Social Attitudes; Autocritical Discourse Analysis; Reception Theory
This paper examines how people with dwarfism1 are represented in the American animated sitcom Family Guy. Using autocritical discourse analysis, this paper reflects on my own response, as a person with dwarfism, to scenes featuring characters with dwarfism. Whilst the show has been criticised for its controversial humour, this paper argues that the show actually exposes negative social attitudes that people with dwarfism encounter from other members of the public while refraining from encouraging stereotypes of dwarfism. The paper builds upon Fink’s (2013) suggestion that animated comedies are a source of both humour and social commentary. This paper suggests that Family Guy has the potential to challenge social attitudes towards people with dwarfism and the way they are perceived in society through directing the humour towards those who mock them as opposed to those with dwarfism. However, how the scenes are interpreted depends on the audience, which can be related to Hall’s (1993) reception theory.
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