Family Guy may just be a cartoon, but its brash often criticized humor offers us a glimpse at the way our society functions. This paper will attempt to show how the issues brought up within the cartoon can be analyzed using anthropology, and then be applied to our everyday lives.
Culture, Consumption and Prada.
"Hey Meg do you want to come for lunch? Oh you know what? There's no room in my car for your big ugly purse." - Random colleague; directed at Meg. .
The above quote, which essentially sets the stage for the entire episode, both debunks older theories of culture and consumption, and offers support for modern anthropology's current views on the matter. Historically anthropologists have tended to view consumption as either internal (consuming or following certain practices in order to survive), or external (species adapt to their environment and eat/follow certain practices based solely on the abundance of particular items in their surroundings). Since a Prada bag is not superior to the one Meg owns at the beginning of the episode, one would be hard pressed to justify that her desire to purchase one is a result of internal factors, since it has no plausible way of promoting survival. Likewise Prada bags do not exist in any particular environment, thus the argument that they are utilized due to their abundance in a particular area, and are thus used to facilitate survival, would seem to be equally asinine. .
A more accurate explanation of Meg's desire for a Prada bag can be garnered by using a more holistic, (the attempt to integrate all that is known about humans for a more accurate picture), approach. A holistic approach allows one to acknowledge the flaws in the aforementioned theories and helps validate the modern anthropological view of consumption, (the idea that it is heavily shaped by culture). The main flaw in the two older theories is that it ignores the idea of choice , and by doing so is ignorant to the fact that different cultures ascribe different values to a variety of items, and that this prescription of value is almost entirely created by culture.