Dear Sarah Palin:
There's no denying, your, er, special beliefs. You think being governor of Alaska makes you "next door neighbors" to Russia and gives you automatic insight into foreign policy. You claim to read all sorts of magazines but cannot give a clear name of which ones you actually read. And now you take a relatively harmless episode of Family Guy (which, I'll admit, isn't exactly the squeaky-clean Father Knows Best for this generation) and churn it into controversy.
Ms. Palin, you will officially do anything to get attention.
In last week's episode of the satirical series, awkward teenager Chris Griffith tries to date a girl named Ellen who he has a crush on, with Down's Syndrome. When asked about what her parents do for a living, Ellen replies that her father is an accountant and her mother is the former governor of Alaska.
When I got to that joke, I chuckled at the recognition of Sarah Palin's name. It wasn't a particularly funny joke, but then again, as one person in my Creative Writing class once said, the name Sarah Palin alone is a joke in and of itself.
And now Ms. Palin, you've taken this episode and used its mentioning of you as another opportunity to look like Mother of the Year who speaks on behalf of voiceless persons with Down Syndrome. You claim this episode was like "another kick in the gut" according to your Facebook note. I have not read this note in its entirety because I am not your FB friend, nor do I have any desire to be.
This is where your reaction gets murky. Other than the vague reference to you having something in common with the character of Ellen's mother, there is no other reference in any sense to your name. Did you think the show was making fun of being the mother of a child with Down Syndrome? Because the remainder of the show was actually more tasteful than usual in its depiction of mentally challenged people, and that there wasn't anything which should merit the show's creators as "heartless jerks."
The remainder of the show has Ellen becoming rather bossy towards Chris, to which he exclaims, "Alright, I don't care, that is IT! I don't care how hot you are, I don't much like being treated this way. You know, I used to hear that people with Down Syndrome were different than the rest of us, but you're not! You're not different at all! You're just a bunch of (explicit, plural word which I can't make out because of the bleeping sound) just like everyone else!"
And, albeit the explicit word at the end, this is really the part of the episode which blasts any controversy away, because that is the point of the episode: Ellen really is no more demanding than most women (including Meg's antagonist, Connie D'Amico), and her feminine assertiveness is really her defining trait, not her affliction with Down Syndrome. She's not a victim at all. If you took out the Down Syndrome traits, you'd just be left with a very, very assertive woman. It reminds me of Timmy on South Park, how even though he's obviously mentally challenged, the fact that the main kids of the show play with him and treat him as a friend proves that the show isn't heartless, that they do not set up those with lesser abilities just so they can kick them down.
But Ms. Palin, this really isn't about you. You're not the one with Down Syndrome, and you cannot know what it is like to have it, nor will I. The actress who voiced Ellen for the episode, Andrea Fay Friedman, was born with Down Syndrome, and she in an email to the New York times she herself believed the episode the episode was funny and blasted Sarah Palin as not having a sense of humor. The real stinger, was this crackerjack line: "My mother did not carry me around under her arm like a loaf of French bread the way former Governor Palin carries her son Trig around looking for sympathy and votes."
Ms. Palin, I know that since your family seems to invite controversy no matter how gosh-darned hard you try to portray yourself as Mother of the Year (or, I suppose, now it's Grandmother of the Year), you cannot have it both ways. You cannot brush off Rush Limbaugh's comments about using the word "retarded" because he was being satirical and then attack this show for its relatively tame episode. You cannot demand that the media leave your children alone after literally toting your young son on the floor of the Republican National Convention. The messages you send to the media is about as confusing as your questions to the infamous Katie Couric interview.
But mostly, Ms. Palin, what's frustrating is that you will take any opportunity to keep yourself in the public's eye, for no real particular reason or purpose. It's as though you don't now how to go back to being the governor unknown to the greater part of the US before the Presidential election.
I'm just a humble blogger of age 20 and this is only my third post on this blog. Although some attention for my abilities as a writer would be nice, I will not go to Family Guy lengths for attention, and I actually hope you don't respond to this open letter (responding would only prove my point), because although I laugh at any latest exploit you get yourself into, I'd really rather just place you into an asterisk of American history than have you further humiliate yourself and the American government.
But, then, the great thing about freedom of speech is that you may respond.
Some Sources of Interest: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26645070/
The entire episode of Family Guy: http://www.hulu.com/watch/125175/family-guy-extra-large-medium