Media Moment: Family Guy
Queen-related: Episode subplot features News of the World
At least that’s the backstory to the subplot from the latest Family Guy episode the other night. Brian May even brought this up on his Soapbox in February when he learned of MacFarlane’s history with the album and the intention to use it as the basis of an upcoming Family Guy episode. (You can read about it here.)
The episode, called Killer Queen, is about a mass murderer that’s on the lam and Patric, the brother-in-law, is fingered as the culprit because he just escaped from the institution he was being held in.
Stewie’s paranoia about getting killed by the robot is so strong that he recoils in horror whenever he sees the album cover, which is a lot in this episode. Even buying a simple scratch-and-win lottery ticket after his panic in the attic brings another robot scare.
At this point, Brian the dog recognizes Stewie’s neurosis and takes it upon himself to help him overcome his fear of the robot.
At this point in the episode, a clever exchange of dialogue happens between Brian and Stewie:
Stewie: “It’s that robot! He’s killed Queen and now he’s going to kill me!”
Brian: “He didn’t kill Queen . . . they’re all fine . . . most of them are fine.”
When confronted with the image of the murderous robot, the superstitious villain cries out: “Why does robot hold dead people? Is that future or past?”
In my mind, this episode brings up a bigger debate about the marketing of music today and how the fan experience with cover art is generally lost in today’s digitally downloaded and distributed music. Like Seth, I too was transfixed at the cover art for the Queen albums, not to mention Bat Out of Hell, The Wall, or any of the Asia sleeves.
Listening to the music was just one aspect of the experience. Imagining how the world depicted on the front cover correlated to the music added an entirely new dimension to the experience. Now, album cover art seems to be an afterthought . . . a thumbnail image to put on iTunes to help market the album in some small way so it’s not just a line of text on a screen to identify it.