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Should a critic review a work that has attacked his own publication?

Should a critic review a work that has attacked his own publication? —Sara Sundermeyer

Got a lot of reader response to my Apr. 28/May 5 issue review of the American Dad! and Family Guy DVDs, most of it from fans of Dad!/Guy creator Seth MacFarlane. They accused me of having a ”personal bias,” as one reader wrote, undoubtedly because in the course of the review I mentioned that in the DVD Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story, Stewie snapped the neck of an EW writer and that MacFarlane had implied in interviews that that guy was me, because years ago I wrote a negative review of the Family Guy TV series in its initial Fox run.

So should I have recused myself? I think the DVD release of American Dad!, given MacFarlane’s now-huge popularity, merited a DVD-section review, and I noticed that EW had never reviewed the Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin DVD when it was first released, so I considered that fair game — maybe I should have made that point in the review.

Wrote reader Kerri Dinsmore, ”I found it neither mature or professional to make an all out attack against Family Guy because he was insulted.” Well, this is one of those, ya-can?t-win arguments. If I hadn’t mentioned, Stewie breaking my — er, an EW writer’s — neck, tons of you, smart fans that you are, would have said, ”Ah-ha! Ken Tucker didn’t mention that he was attacked by Family Guy, and now he’s taking it out on American Dad!” So I thought it was best to bring up the fact.

Ms. Dinsmore also added, ”BTW, wasn’t EW the one who gave the show its own feature spot a few issues ago?” Yes, indeedly, Kerri — this is one of the many great things about EW: If a critic doesn’t like a show or movie but you do, chances are we’ll run a feature on that piece of pop culture that acknowledges its popularity, talks to its creator and/or stars, and generally let the subject speak for him- or herself.

That’s the EW way: It’s not so much equal opportunity as it is making sure that all points of view get expressed one way or another in the magazine, whether it’s in an admiring profile, a cutting review, a funny Spotlight, or a fact-filled News & Notes story. We — and I — do our best to cover it all, as honestly and as upfront as possible. And I write that knowing that Peter on Family Guy could really get off a few good sarcastic jokes about such blatant sincerity.

(Got a DVD-related question for Ken? Post it here.)

American Dad!
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