Microsoft vs. Family Guy, Or This Program Has Performed An Illegal Operation

by Jaime Weinman

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This is yesterday’s news, literally, but Microsoft pulled its sponsorship from the upcoming Family Guy variety special (where Seth MacFarlane and Alex Borstein will perform as themselves) because they heard the jokes and realized that this was full of “offensive” humour. Microsoft’s announcement makes it clear that they (or the people who greenlit this, anyway) had no idea what the show was about and simply chose to sponsor it because of the demographics:

We initially chose to participate in the Seth and Alex variety show based on the audience composition and creative humor of ‘Family Guy,’ but after reviewing an early version of the variety show, it became clear that the content was not a fit with the Windows brand.

There is, however, no truth to the rumour that Seth MacFarlane and the “Mac” from those John Hodgman commercials are the same person. Even though they’re both young and smug. (On a tangent, I now find myself rooting for the PC in those commercials. The Mac is such a smarmy, self-satisfied jerk, in the tradition of those kids from the Trix commercials.) But obviously this won’t help Microsoft any in their quest to make themselves seem hipper.

Actually, I can see the MacFarlane/Borstein thing being decent, or at least better than the other variety specials that the networks have greenlit in their ill-fated quest to bring back the format. One thing I actually do like about MacFarlane is that even though I find him unfunny, he does have genuine love for old-fashioned showbiz, particularly Broadway musicals and Vegas-style cabaret. He has, for example, done at least two parodies of songs from the Bob Merrill/Jackie Gleason musical Take Me Along, a show that only hard-core Broadway buffs seem to know about. I might actually watch this thing just to see if they choose to parody any songs as obscure as Take Me Along‘s “But Yours.”




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Microsoft vs. Family Guy, Or This Program Has Performed An Illegal Operation

  1. They initially chose to participate based on " the creative humor of ‘Family Guy'"?! Aside from that being an oxymoron, wouldn't that imply they knew this thing would be crass?

  2. I always thought the Mac guy was pretty restrained, considering his vast superiority to the PC guy, but what do I know? Up until yesterday when you set me straight, Mr. Weinman, I believed that the Golden Globes were hipper than the Oscars.

  3. On a tangent, I now find myself rooting for the PC in those commercials.

    Honestly, I think this is part of the point of those commercials. They’ve taken the behemoth that is Microsoft and turned it into a scrappy underdog that we might condescendingly root for–aww, they have a new OS, how cute!–but wouldn’t want to brag about actually owning. While at the same time making Mac seem like the default choice, what Microsoft is supposed to be; Mac doesn’t have to worry about being a smug asshole because he knows you’re going to buy him anyway.

    As for the Seth McFarlane Variety Funtime Special Extravaganza, I think I’ll pass. Though it probably will be both better and more successful than both Rosie O’Donnell’s and The Osbournes’ Variety Funtime Special Extravaganzas.

  4. The Mac is such a smarmy, self-satisfied jerk, in the tradition of those kids from the Trix commercials.)

    You watch way too much television.

    • Alas, people who watch no television at all probably know enough to hate the kids from the Trix commercials. It's ingrained in the human psyche.

      • In what seems, so far, to be a minority of two, I have to agree with you on the Mac commercials. While the PC guy is dumb and hapless, I have always found the Mac guy smug and obnoxious.

        • As a fan of the show Ed, I'm still baffled by the idea that Cheswick is supposed to be "hip".

          (I watch little tv, appear to be slightly younger than our blogger, and have no idea what "the kids from the Trix commercials" means. Isn't it all about the rabbit?)

  5. It would be fun to tell some marketing survey guy you bought Windows 7 because you felt sorry for the PC guy in the Mac ads. Though my guess is the execs in Cupertino would not be amused.

    As for Seth, I actually think he looks far more like Edward Winter (Col. Flagg from MASH) than he does the PC guy. And since Fox owns the rights to the show, maybe they can have McFarlane dress up as a crazed CIA agent, jump out a window and break his leg during the variety show. Now that would be entertainment.

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