Previously on this site, we discussed the work and questionable intent of one Gary Janetti. The television writer, whose credits include Family Guy and Will and Grace, has experienced a new burst of fame thanks to his Instagram account, wherein he used Prince George as a conduit for comedy directed at the British royal family. The conceit was familiar: Imagine if this young, privileged child was a foul-mouthed diva in the vein of Stewie Griffin or a Real Housewife. The account garnered enough attention and celebrity fandom for Janetti to spin it into a book of essays as well as an upcoming HBO Max animated series based on George’s b*tchy adventures. As we mentioned in our previous post on Janetti, the release of this show, The Prince, seemed to inspire a minor PR crisis with Team Janetti, particularly regarding his questionably caustic focus on Meghan Markle.
Janetti faced heavy criticism for the particularly cruel way that he ‘joked’ about Markle, all while using a child as his mouthpiece for doing so. His stance on Markle seemed to echo that of the British royal rat pack: That the Duchess of Sussex was an over-ambitious and tacky Black American actress who didn’t know her place. Janetti’s ‘jokes’ about her included referring to her as ‘cheap’, denigrating her infant son Archie, and frequenting making fun of her weight, typically by sneering about how often Meghan rested her hands on her bump during pregnancy. As I said in my earlier piece, Janetti’s work is witless, deeply sexist, and lazy as all hell. Still, it got him a lot of attention, especially at a time when many people were spinning their interest or criticism of Markle into a profitable side-hustle. Janetti’s posts were typically described as satire or un-PC comedy, but there was never anything particularly transgressive or satirical about calling toddlers fat or comparing older women to horses. Making a real-life child say your trash doesn’t excuse the ineptitude of your execution.
Clearly, Janetti knew that spending months on the racist and sexist bandwagon of anti-Meghan rhetoric that polluted the media would come back and bite him in the backside. With a new series on the horizon, he took to Instagram to quietly clean up his page by deleting dozens of offending posts (but don’t worry, we had receipts.) There was no apology, no acknowledgment of his clean-up operation, nor any indication that he regretted his past tactics. He just quietly returned to George posts after a few weeks of silence. Notably, he has decided not to mention Meghan or Archie in these newer posts. Instead, the new focus of his misogyny is Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, and literally every single joke about her is ‘she looks like a horse.’ I’m not kidding. All of them are that one joke. It’s no surprise that a Family Guy writer likes to hammer the same unfunny and well-worn gag into the ground.
The aim is clear: Promote the upcoming series with a gentle re-writing of history. With most of the truly nasty Meghan posts available only in screenshot form, Janetti and company have started their new strategy, which involves repositioning his ‘satire’ as coming from a loving, respectful, and deeply pro-Meghan place. Orlando Bloom, who will voice Prince Harry in the show, said that the show was ‘so clever, witty and affectionately done […] We’re showing real adoration to them in one form or another.’ Janetti’s husband, stylist Brad Goreski, told Us Weekly that the pair of them were both big fans of the royals and that ‘What Meghan has done in the royal family and outside of it now is just extraordinary.’ Us Weekly described Janetti’s Instagram account as mocking the royals ‘in a very honorable and kind way.’
Honorable and kind. Yikes.
It’s a strange U-turn to go from selling yourself as a no-holds-barred asshole to a royal fanboy of dignity and honor. Shock horror, it doesn’t work, certainly not when you’re Gary Janetti. It’s a strange mishmash of intents that make no sense when you detangle them. How can something be satire when it’s done from a place of kindness when the very purpose of satirical comedy is to punch up at the powerful? How can you then try to sell yourself as a true supporter of the woman who helped you make your fortune thanks to your decision to repeatedly engage in racist and sexist rhetoric? What is daring about sucking up to the archaic establishment, or transgressive about jokes that are dependent on garden-variety misogyny?
It’s not as if the Windsor clan is untouchable or bereft of satirical targets. They’re an emotionally stuck-up and outdated institution with a long history of racism, and one of their lot is currently facing heat for being an accused sex offender and BFF of a pedophile sex trafficker. I’m not interested in pretending that anyone in the royals, including Harry and Meghan, are exempt from jokes or criticism. What does interest me is how often these people, Janetti included, are depressingly reliant on regurgitating the same screeds that punch down and further exacerbate an already toxic climate surrounding a woman of color and her kid. If you’re a professional comedy writer and you can’t do any better than ‘this woman is trash’ then perhaps consider a new field of work.
In the long run, none of this will necessarily impact The Prince. I’m sure that it will be heralded by the usual talking-heads as a hilarious take-down of the royals, all while they claim that Meghan fans are ‘triggered’ or whatnot by its existence. If any journalists ask Janetti about his Instagram deletions or change of tactic, I’m sure he’ll have prepared statements and mealy-mouthed justifications that try to reinforce the claim that his comedy comes from a place of deep love and respect. It’s all rather dull and predictable, isn’t it? I’m less interested in Janetti’s work than the PR cards being played. Given Team Sussex’s reported plans to get into the film and TV production game like the Obamas, it’ll be fascinating to see if HBO and WarnerMedia want to work with them while this elephant is still in the room.
Death to the monarchy.
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