Thursday, July 8, 2010

Aaron McGruder vs. World

Perhaps Aaron McGruder isn't subtle or tactful, but he's always hilarious and USUALLY right.

The Boondocks has been one of my favorite comics (second only to Calvin and Hobbes) ever since it entered the papers. My biggest lament about the comics section is that Aaron McGruder's masterpiece stopped showing up on a daily basis.

When he started work on the TV series, I think I've never been so overjoyed.

Perhaps the best thing about his move to television is that, since he joined Adult Swim, he was able to say a lot of things that he certainly was unable to say in comic form...mostly because he didn't have to worry as much about parents complaining about what their kids were seeing in their newspapers (or so I assume.)

In the transition from print to television, a lot changed about his characters. While Huey, Riley, et. al. were just as witty, they became far more acerbic. The characters, now far more pronounced in expounding upon their (McGruder's) beliefs, refuse to mince words when discussing BET, hos, "soul food," R Kelly, etc...

I loved every second of it.

I loved watching this new no holds barred, no prisoners, no mercy, no bullshit Boondocks.

Aaron McGruder managed to take social commentary and turn it on its head. He twists and demeans characters, pushing everyone down to the lowest common denominator to prove his point and makes an asshole out of everybody who stands in his way.

In this most recent series, there has been a lot of controversy about a particular episode: the Tyler Perry episode, "Pause."


If you haven't seen it, you absolutely NEED to. Within two minutes of each other, there are Rocky Horror Picture Show, Peanuts, and Jim Jones references.

But, to be honest, McGruder is really REALLY hard on Tyler Perry, and whether or not it is entirely deserved, it is hilarious and generally on target.

Tyler Perry IS incredibly preachy. I've seen a number of his plays and I spend more time hitting the fast forward button through his jeebus songs than I do watching and laughing...which is saying something, because Perry is generally funny. But I'm hurt to see his response to this episode. It's one thing to express disapproval or even to say, "This was hurtful to me," but Perry has all but ensured that this episode will never be aired again by threatening to leave TBS in retaliation.

But, when watching these episodes, we do have to wonder about Aaron McGruder. He obviously has an axe to grind. He takes (hilarious, glorious) pot shots at famous people (although, just as often he'll make fun of everybody on either side of the issue) from behind his animated characters--which is his prerogative, and I'm certainly not going to tell him to change. I happen to generally approve of his message:

Show the grotesque and messed up people of the world how grotesque and messed up they really are. Allow the normally overlooked but potentially dangerous and destructive actions and traits that are common place in this society to run themselves to the worst possible conclusion and then explode in chaos, reduce peoples' arguments, EVERYBODY'S...even the ones you agree with to the absurd and learn to understand the possible repercussions of the shit we see everywhere but rarely think about.

Tyler Perry's butthurt about this episode, is no more well founded than those of the Islamic extremists who refuse to allow Mohammad to be drawn. Freedom of speech is what this country was built on, and it's what allows Tyler Perry to get up on stage dressed like a woman just as much as it is what allows Aaron McGruder to make fun of himself for it.

You can't have it both ways, Perry. Remember that.

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