Monday, November 7

The Boondocks: The morning after

Star cartoonist Aaron McGruder is taking major flack for the use of the 'N' word in The Boondocks, which debuted on Cartoon Network last night.First thing this morning I learned that L.A. activist Najee Ali had initiated a letter writing campaign to the Cartoon Network by his Project Islamic H.O.P.E. members, to protest The Boondocks's liberal use of the "N" word. Fifteen times it was bleeped in a 30-minute animated show. Take away commercial time, and that's almost a n**** a minute!

This afternoon I listened to Ed Gordon's News & Notes show on NPR, where The Boondocks was among the hot topics discussed. Gordon's radio roundtable included three savvy African American commentators -- George Curry, Callie Crossley and Professor Charles Ogletree -- who gave their insightful $2.50.

I liked Ms. Crossley's one statement: I wanted to like (the animated TV show) as much as I like the comic strip, but hearing the "N" word was offensive and distracting -- which was unfortuate because McGruder had some important things to say.

Personally, I enjoyed the show and look forward to seeing much more. It looked fabulous, the voices were beautiful, and there were powerful moments to truth (i.e., "He speaks so well" -- to the 10th power!) The "N" word in and of itself didn't disturb me. I hear it used often; I occasionally use it myself.

However I found the use of the "N" word bothersome in a notably different way...

Now I only caught the back half of the show. So there's a chance that I missed some crucial setup to the following. But when the boys and grandpops showed up at the upscale affair and the doorman was going off, questioning these "N******" about why they'd shown up at his boss's(master's) house, it felt phoney.

I well realize that exaggeration is the foundation of comedy, but that butler cat just wasn't real to me. What black man in this day and time would "greet" another grown black man in such a manner? And there not be a physical jumpoff as a result? I can easily imagine a butler acting suspicious and unwelcoming, but not repeatedly calling these people "N*****" while telling them to get lost.

So someone please tell me what I missed. Was this supposed to have been some step-in-time scene, a parody of the days when you could front someone like that and not get beat down? 'Cause otherwise, this looked whack to me. In other words, this empowered Step 'n Fetchit character came too close to what seems to have driven Dave Chappelle over the edge.

McGruder said recently that he could handle exposing what Chappelle ultimately could not. I hope that's not true. If this is part of what we get for McGruder's "courage," I have to respect Chappelle all the more for chosing not to represent this way any longer.

To be clear, I'm down with The Boondock's using the "N" word. But it was he who said he'd keep it real. And real "N******" using the word this way, with such nasty attitude usually get dealt some kind of reaction. Don't they? So someone please enlighten me, as this seemed to have missed me in the worse way.

Read more:

Clicks to Miles Davis catalog, but explore as you like


Blogger Mr. Techjitsu said...

I will watch tonight and let you know [I TiVo'd the show]...

2:12 PM  
Blogger Viqi French said...

Thanks mr. tech! Knew I could count on you to come back with it all figured out. :-)

2:18 PM  
Blogger Mr. Techjitsu said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:35 PM  
Blogger Mr. Techjitsu said...

[NOTE: I posted this on my blog as well]
The following are the GREATEST theme song lyrics of ALL TIME:
I am the stone that the buidling refused-
That made lady sing the blues.
I'm the spark that makes your idea bright.
The same spark that lights the dark-
So that you can know your left from your right.
I am the ballot in your box, the bullet in the gun;
The inner glow that lets you know to call your 'brother' SON.
That story that just begun,
The promise of what's to come...
And I will remain a soldier until the WAR is WON.

And with that... I begin the criticism, in REAL-TIME while watching the show:

[The first 10min]
I am FEELIN' this show! This is my mindstate as a child; one foot in the 'hood, the other in the 'burbs. Sure, there are moments when I felt that the show went over the top, but so does The Family Guy! It's far-fetched, yet funny in the ghetto-sense; an exaggerated version of my grandparents telling me to behave in front of white people,then calling them 'peckerwoods' after they left the house.

It makes fun of us, 'them', and anyone in between. It uses the 'n'-word the way MY FAMILY used it! The adults told us not to use it, then turned around and used it themselves. That was the old "do as I say" rule.

[The last 15min]
The way we hate on each other was exposed to the world in the form of Uncle Ruckus. He is the 'Flavor Flav' element to counteract young Huey's 'Public Enemy' persona. The rich white boy being 'blacker' than anyone else in the room was a sight to behold. Charlie Murphy's shout-out to Dave Chappelle was nice, too.

Once again, the 'dreaded n-word' was tossed out a few times. I think the context was appropriate and showed our contradictory behavior as a people. I heard about the slight uproar online and on the radio shows. I started my TiVo recording of the episode waiting to be offended; however, I was blessed with an enjoyable experience! The show was as close to the comic strip as possible, in my opinion. I feel the people that object to the show are probably upset about the airing of our dirty laundry..

hold up...

WHAT IN THE HELL is Uncle Ruckus singin?!?! That crosses a bit of a line for me. I can hear the white kids in junior high singin' that song amongst themselves, then- like the idiots that some of them are- trying to sing it to their 'black friends' as if they are ONLY relating how the show went...

Hmmm- I am now officially conflicted. I love the show AND don't like some of the elements of the first episode. I feel like I am watching a movie like 'Crash' or 'South Central'; you know- the type of movie that you love and hate at the same time?

Needless to say, I will not be removing this show from my recording list on TiVo. I got Aaron's back, but I reserve the right to chin-check him once in a while.

8:38 PM  
Blogger Viqi French said...


sounds like we're pretty much on the same page. the boondocks gets phatt thumbs up regardless of it containing something to offended just about everyone. interestingly, we're all offended by something entirely different! go figure...

9:24 PM  
Blogger Inside Man said...

I watched and it didn't bother me at first hearing the N being dropped. But the next at work hearing non-blacks thinking it was hilarious that it was being used to much. That began to bother because one guy actually said it while mimicing what the preacher was saying. We had a talk of course (I told him to say "N word" even if when he was mimicing commmentary)!

7:27 AM  

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