Canada’s Global Television network has been made to apologize to viewers for giving them insufficient warning about a Family Guy spoof in which Elmer Fudd kills wascally wabbit Bugs Bunny at wast.
A 2006 episode, Stewie B. Goode, has a bloody, protracted scene in which Elmer shoots Bugs four times, then breaks his neck.
Although the network satisfactorily warned viewers about the show’s sexual content and bad language, it didn’t let them know in advance of the violence, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council ruled Thursday.
The code was not violated by the episode itself, the regulator said.
The contentious episode aired at 5 p.m. last July 23. The council said that “there was a spoof of a Bugs Bunny cartoon in which Elmer Fudd shot Bugs at close range with a rifle. Bugs screamed and gripped his chest as blood poured out of him. He died in a prolonged and dramatic manner, after which Fudd twisted Bugs’ neck and dragged Bugs’ lifeless body by the ears through a pool of blood.”
The lack of warning was the problem, not the violence, said the CBSC.
“The panel finds that the scene was definitely somewhat gruesome and uncomfortable to watch,” the broadcast regularator declared. “It recognizes, however, that the scene was intended to satirize the violence found in that type of cartoon program. The gag was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, since Family Guy itself is an animated program that sometimes contains violence.”
The same evening, a male complainant was offended by the “extremely adult language” in the episode — particularly by talking baby Stewie discussing shaving his genitals, and the use of several profanities and the word “porno.”
The viewer said that much of the material was unsuitable for children and should be restricted to airing after 9 p.m. Currently, a “late viewing period” is in place for offensive material in Canada, restricting such shows to timeslots between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Global replied by admitting that Family Guy “tends to push the envelope at times in an attempt at humor.” But the network pointed to its decision to show an age 14+ advisory, along with viewer advisories aired after commercial breaks.
Nonetheless, the viewer sent more letters of complaint on three separate times between August and November.
Though blasting the contents of the program as being in “poor taste,” the panel said that the warning of strong language was enough.
“The National Conventional Television Panel has concluded that none of the substance of this Family Guy episode was in breach of the Codes,” it wrote.
“It recognizes, however, that many viewers would find elements of this program to be in poor taste. In addition to the categories of content discussed above, the panel notes that some viewers might find the scenes of the man eating dinner in a bathroom stall and Stewie throwing up on [animated dog] Brian to be disgusting and tasteless. Such matters of taste do not amount to code violations.”
Still, the CBSC ruled, the frequent advisories from Global didn’t cover all the content that might bother viewers: “The wording of the advisories… referred only to ‘language and content some viewers may find offensive.’
“The Panel does conclude… that the violent scenes (particularly the Bugs Bunny scene) were unsuitable for children. Global should have, therefore, mentioned violence in its advisories and the failure to do so constitutes a breach of Article 5 of the CAB Violence Code.”
Global now must tell viewers during prime time — within three days of the council’s decision — that it violated the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Violence code. The same message must air again within seven days in the time slot that Family Guy was broadcast.
The announcement must read: “The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has found that Global violated the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Violence Code in its broadcast of Family Guy on July 23, 2011. The episode contained scenes of violence and Global failed to mention violence in its viewer advisories. Global violated Article 5 of the Violence Code.”