Monday, November 14, 2005

Aaron McGruder's Diabolical Plot

I have a ritual nearly every morning. Every morning I wake up and open my browser to the Boondocks comic. I love this comic. I even buy the books that he puts out on this comic. I have waited for years, literally, to experience the Boondocks Cartoon. Now that I've watched the cartoon twice, I have really mixed feelings. One possible reason is that I am a Boondocksphile (made that one up). I read the comic day in and day out, read interviews by McGruder, and all but have tattooed Huey on my arm (aight, I'm really not THAT into the comic but you know what I mean). So when I finally heard Cartoon Network picked up the show, I patiently waited. Maybe I'm too close to it to appreciate artistic variation. I think the cartoon is funny, not as funny as it could be, but definitely enjoyable. Most of the laughs come in a "comic strip" form (short jokes or running gags)which is true to the comic. The one thing that has concerned me and many who watched and are discussing the show is the use of "the n-word."

McGruder decided to use it because its part of Black culture and he himself sometimes uses it. I was kind of dismayed the first week, but now I feel like I understand. No, I don't think that "the n-word" (gotta put in quotes because now apparently it is a phrase)is appropriate or that he's doing it from an empowering standpoint. I think he's doing it to really piss people off. Who you ask? Everyone!

It seems McGruder has taken a different route with the show than he did with the comic strip. I think that the n-word is so over used in the show that most people who watch it, those who are pro and anti-n-word, would feel unsettled by it and question its role. I figure Aaron is SO smart, that he is taking a uniquely critical approach. He's challenging progressives to grapple with its presence in our speech, while also challenging folks who do use it to question it's frequency and utility.

Here's another possible theory and possibly further evidence that Aaron McGruder is being critical in an avant-guard way. Ceasar is absent. Ceaser is normally the dude that balances Huey, he's not gonna show up for the whole year. Instead, McGruder has Uncle Ruckus in every episode (thus far). Unless you really stalk the Boondocks, you were like, who is that crazy looking dude, but he has appeared in the comic before. In the comic, he is just as loathing of Black folks and ridiculous, just less ever-present. Ruckus shows us a part of the Black community that is self-hating. Ruckus' off the wall antics are a heavy satire, but would get any viewer who knows a Ruckus or is a Ruckus to think twice about their commentary on Black folks and their commentaries on White folks.

Aight, this post was supposed to be really short, but I kinda feel like I may be "on to something" with the Boondocks cartoon. I guess time will be the test.


Anonymous said...

I think that is a good appraisal of what may be going on in McGruder's head. I am with you in the hopes that this is his SMART plan. Rather genius in its simplicity. It catches you off guard given McGruder's persona of a militant and conscious man, which is why it pisses off everyone at first. But the true test (as you pointed out) will be to see how "the-n-word" users fare after watching the show several times. Either way it goes make sure you: "Don't trust them new niggas over there."


Infinite Skillz said...

It's funny you say his over use of the "N-word" is intentional. As you know, I loathe the word and as much as I hate Nelly too, I would buy 100 copies of each of Nelly's albums if I could get emcees to stop using the word in their songs. I've done a song where I admonished them and black people in general to quit but it didn't get nearly the response my Bush bashing ballad did despite using the same beat on both. I was thinking of dedicating 3 minutes of my next album to the word. My idea was just to say the word for the full track in my best sing songy voice to drive home the point that it must stop. Brothers are saying it so much that white kids think it goes hand in hand with Hip Hop culture.

Mark said...

Hey Dumi,

Just finished the third episode tonight - I need some inspiration about this project of his... any ideas?

Dumi said...

This quote if from Illseed on The plot may be working.

"I’m letting you all know that I officially denounce, renounce and will no longer use the “N-Word.” I’m not even going to use it as a “term of endearment.” I was watching “The Boondocks” on TV and it really bothered me hear the word. I’m just tired of it, its hateful and I’m sick of it. Even when Kanye suggests its ok for whites to use it, I just can’t agree. So, every dude is a brother until he crosses me – then wrath is released. "

Dance_Soul said...

So - I finally saw "The Boondocks" and was pretty annoyed by the amount of time I heard the "N-Word." I mean - good grief - I missed most of the dialogue because of the vulgarity. I have been known to use the word on occasion - but every other word? Its just too much.

Garlin II said...

Thanks for posting on this Dumi. I personally am not really feeling the cartoon. It has limited comedic value, yes. However, I expected a lot more. The thing that gets me the most is that the cartoon focuses primarily on Riley and Grandpa and NOT Huey, who is clearly the main character in the comic strip. I don't know if I'd give A.M. credit for this edit; maybe Time Warner liked the show better that way.

Anonymous said...

I don't see Aaron as militant, genius or even creative. Based upon his work he appears to be the epitome of coonery and modern day black face. Artists typically personify themselves in a character and I really believe that his true self is closer to that of Uncle Ruckus, a self hating, black folk loathing Uncle Tom. I will credit him with the intelligence to know that in order for him to be commercially successful that he would have to first create a solid fan base of black people with the comic strip to give it credibility. So he did so by appearing as "pro-black" and "militant" as possible to make a splash. But now as he has the ear of the primarily white demographic of Adult Swim which benefits him financially he is free to say everything self hating and loathing that he wants. There is a reason that R. Hudlin will no longer works on the show. Think about it!