CBS's Charlie Rose Toasts Filthy 'Family Guy' Maker's 'Funny and Smart' Career

One of the reasons that dirty-cartoon purveyor Seth MacFarlane is very, very rich is that journalists utterly fail to question the tastelessness of his TV shows or movies when he appears for interviews. Just take CBS This Morning on Monday, where host Charlie Rose treated MacFarlane like an artiste as they discussed his new pervert-teddy-bear movie Ted.

As MacFarlane said the challenge was "to walk the line between sweetness and bad taste," Rose merely echoed "That's the story of your career...It is high brow, low brow. It is being funny at the same time, being smart." Rose made no attempt to question the teddy bear's pot smoking, hookers, or spraying himself in the face with hand lotion to simulate an orgasm:

CHARLIE ROSE: And talk about the movie and then the rest of your life. First, the movie, the idea that you take a teddy bear...

SETH MACFARLANE: And you-- and you-- you bring him to life--

CHARLIE: Yeah.

SETH --in a completely inappropriate way.

CHARLIE: What was the dilemma to solve to make that work?

SETH: Well, the dilemma to solve was to make him seem unlike a cartoon character.

CHARLIE: Yeah.

SETH: And that was achieved largely thanks to the technology that, you know, James Cameron developed for Avatar and--

CHARLIE: Yeah.

SETH: --Peter Jackson developed for Lord of the Rings. And it`s technology that`s been used in action movies and fantasy movies but never in a-- in a comedy. Nobody`s ever used that technology to create a character that just exists in a normal mundane world.

CHARLIE : The-- the technology, per se, is what?

SETH: It`s called motion capture technology. And that`s the-- the difference between that and the traditional animation is with-- with a Pixar movie like Toy Story, your-- an animator is posing everything out.

CHARLIE: Right, right, right.

SETH : And with motion capture, you have an actor actually wearing--I mean, in this case, me, wearing these little sensors. So everything that we-- everything that I do, the bear does.

CHARLIE: As Mark Wahlberg, the right kind of casting because?

SETH : Because he, you know, he-- he makes the audience believe that this is just-- this is just a normal relationship.

CHARLIE: After you were able to do that to sort of create this bond, what was the other challenge?

SETH: Well, I mean, you know, the other challenge was to walk the line of-- of sweetness and bad taste. It is-- it is sort of that-- that--

CHARLIE: That`s the story of your career.

SETH Yes, yes, exactly. You know, it`s-- it`s sort of that mix of-- of high brow and low brow I guess. You know, that-- that we all love Monty Python. That`s-- that`s sort of the-- the paragon example of-- of how to walk that line.

CHARLIE: It is high brow, low brow. It is being funny at the same time being smart.

SETH: We hope.

CHARLIE: Yeah.

SETH: We hope.

CHARLIE: Define for me the success of Family Guy because it`s probably gone way, way beyond whatever you ever imagined.

SETH: Yeah, yeah. I, you know, I don`t think it goes any deeper than this. And I would never be so presumptuous as to compare our show to The Honeymooners. But one of my favorite answers in an interview is when they-- they say to Jackie Gleason, why does this show endure, why do people continue coming back--

CHARLIE: Yeah.

SETH: --and rather than giving an extended analytical answer, he just said, ah, they`re funny... I think, you know, we-- we`ve never been under the illusion that it`s our job to-- to do anything more than just make people laugh and give them a good time for the twenty-two minutes that we`re on.

CHARLIE: But you were 24 when you created Family Guy, were you not? Or not?

SETH: Yes. Yep.

CHARLIE: And this went on for how many years now? You have to figure this out if we can do the math.

SETH: I don`t know, 37 years. You know it`s-- it`s-- it`s strange. I actually don`t know how many years. I`ve never been able to answer this question because the thing about an animated show is it takes nine months to do each half hour. Nine months per episode just to do one episode...

Then Rose went on and on with technical questions about animation. Perhaps it would be too disturbing for the morning-TV audience to discuss the crass content of MacFarlane's film, but failing to question it is merely enabling the coarsening of the popular culture. The TV makers and movie makers are never going to press their news divisions to question whether these movies are too coarse and make the public feel like our society's in a great moral decline.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis