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The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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‘The Boondocks’ raises eyebrows and some fists

 The Boondocks raises eyebrows and some fists
‘The Boondocks’ raises eyebrows and some fists

‘The Boondocks’ raises eyebrows and some fists

An American revolution continues to loom over the heads of President George W. Bush and his crew of Conservative henchmen, and the proverbial catalytic bomb will drop on June 13, 2006.

Don’t freak out; I do not have insider information on American nuclear developments, nor do I have any reason to believe (other than educated speculation) that the U.S. government would employ our nuclear capabilities. The bomb I speak of comes wrapped in plastic and can be purchased at your local Best Buy — yup, it’s ‘The Boondocks’ Season 1 on DVD, uncensored and uncut.

Chicago native Aaron McGruder created the comic strip, ‘The Boondocks,’ in 1997 while attending the University of Maryland. The editor of the school’s newspaper, The Diamondback, approached McGruder about publishing his comic strip for $30 per strip. McGruder agreed and his cynical “funny” gained such popularity for its controversial characters and subject matters that the Universal Press Syndicate picked up the comic strip for national publication nearly two years after its creation.

After working on the comic strip for nearly eight years, McGruder seemed to have bore the brunt of comic strip limitations. Following the 9/11 attacks, a number of newspapers dropped the strip entirely when McGruder portrayed a talking yellow ribbon and American flag badmouthing the Patriot Act and the Bush administration, among other things. Although he continued working on the strip, McGruder and company began looking to expand the ‘Boondock’ vision into a prime time television series. Much to McGruder’s surprise, the Fox Network answered the call.

Naturally, McGruder encountered “creative differences” with the Fox Network and the two parties went their separate ways. I suppose that ultimately, the mighty Rupert Murdoch would have broken out into hives and required large doses of Xanax and rest had McGruder gotten his way. Thankfully, the geniuses at Adult Swim eventually caught wind of McGruder’s idea and righteously signed him aboard in 2005.

Without a doubt, the first season of The Boondocks should be regarded as one of the finest breakouts in television history. In a time when even proclaimed Republicans articulate general disdain with the current state of American politics and the Bush administration, McGruder has stepped up to the plate and pushed the envelope further than most of you could imagine.

I ask you to fend off the urge to pass judgment, because McGruder doesn’t stop there. He isn’t just another “leftist radical” that relentlessly bashes Republican ideas and morality. McGruder boasts far more complex thinking and social comprehension than to allow his critics to pass him off as a biased extremist.

If you haven’t seen the show, allow me to describe the bewildering hilarity. ‘The Boondocks’ features an array of characters animated in an anime-esque fashion. Huey, the show’s protagonist is a 10-year-old black radical who constantly conjures up conspiracy theories and elaborate plans to battle evil by using his katana and martial arts skills. While McGruder portrays Huey as a very mature and intellectual young man, his little brother, Riley, provides a very contrasting personality.

In the opening credits, for example, a picture of Huey stylized in the likeness of Che Guevarra and a picture of Riley in Al Pacino’s ‘Scarface’ garb appear consecutively to illustrate the differences in the two. McGruder uses the brothers’ different experiences and conversations as outlets to convey his messages on various social issues ranging from black-on-black discrimination, to terrorism, to the mockery of popular social figures.

While Huey often denounces mainstream black culture and negatively refers to many of his people as “n*ggas,” Riley buys into the gangster rap mentality and lifestyle, allowing faux hip-hop culture to sway his actions and opinions. Riley often fights with his brother to hang out with two white “wanna-be gangsters” named Ed Wuncler III and Gin Rummy. Ed Wuncler III, voiced by Charlie Murphy, gets away with literally everything he does, as his family seems to own the entire town of Woodcrest.

Whether he decides to hold up a bank or a convenience store, the police never arrest him or his best friend and right-hand man, Gin Rummy. Rummy, who often says, “The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence,” is voiced by Samuel L. Jackson and allegedly parodies Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. I find it quite hilarious to see two white cartoon characters referring to each other as “n*gga” when you know that the voices are done by two well-respected black actors, Murphy and Jackson.

Several other characters that serve important roles in the show include: Granddad, who moved the boys from South Side Chicago to the suburbs, Uncle Ruckus, who idolizes Caucasian culture and “the white man,” Jazmine, who tends to bring out the child in Huey, and Ed Wuncler Sr., who reigns over the town of Woodcrest like a modern-day Rockefeller. All of the characters provide interesting insight into different opinions and viewpoints on socio-political issues and problems.

I think that ‘The Boondocks’ is a timely and important show. McGruder has recognized a need for change, and has used television as an arena in which he can spread his ideas. As McGruder continually demonstrates, the times only continue to change, and so do ideologies and social standards.

At times, McGruder seems to literally read my mind. As a young white man who regards himself as an open-minded and fair person, I have often thought to myself, what would someone like Booker T. Washington, or Harriet Tubman, or Martin Luther King think of his/her peoples’ social progression? And, what do you know, I tune in to Adult Swim the eve of M.L.K. day, and McGruder delivered an incredibly moving episode entitled “The Return of the King.” In the episode, M.L.K. delivers an innovative speech to an all-black audience, in which he denounces mainstream black culture and informs the people that he intends on moving to Canada.

I believe that ‘The Boondocks’ increases socio-political awareness and forces its viewers to question the status quo in a different and thought-provoking light. In the words of Huey Freeman, “Maybe I’m too young to know what the world is supposed to be, but it’s not supposed to be this, it can’t be this.”

 

Jeff Broadway is a sophomore CCPA major and can be reached at [email protected].

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