Thursday, January 8, 2009
.::Aaron McGruder's Black Jesus...good lawd::.
I'm sayin'. Does it get any worse?! I was on the fence with The Boondocks. While the majority of the characters were essentially antagonists that perpetuated negative stereotypes of Black Americans, there was one strong protagonist in Huey's character. But in Black Jesus, the main character is essentially a walking stereotype guised in the likeness of a historical sacred figure. And not a protagonist to be found (note: just because the lead character is "interpreting" scripture, doesn't qualify him as a protagonist). Not sure I get the synopsis of the series anyway. It's apparent that the production turn around for a series like this is a lot quicker than an animated series like The Boondocks, but I wonder if it's necessarily cheaper.
In short, I'm a little tired of the vast majority of so-called Black entertainment. Most of it falls between the chasm of milquetoast and callous. I never thought Kat Williams had a good stand up act. Tyler Perry needs a new shtick. BET officially lost its swagger in the Viacom buy out, alienating a large portion of its former audience. And Janet Jackson should probably reinvent herself some time soon if she wants to have an ounce of relevancy at this point in the game. Maybe I'm being too harsh, but that's how I feel. I just think there's a whole range of motion and potent artistic expression we've yet to bring to mainstream culture. Still, I have hope.
But it ain't in Black Jesus. Aaron McGruder's approach seems to be a bit lazy here. There doesn't even seem to be any viable story lines. I guess lazy humor is the order of the day. But what exactly makes me more partial to The Boondocks versus Black Jesus? It's probably the fact that The Boondocks had a great subtext of social commentary, more parallel to Trey Parker & Matt Stone's approach to South Park. For example, The Uncle Ruckus Reality Show and The Huey Freeman Hunger Strike episodes were brilliant in my opinion. I'm sure the fact that The Boondocks is a cartoon and Black Jesus is a comedy with live characters factors into my partiality also. The ridicule seems uglier to me when acted out by real people versus animated characters.
When I hear the name Black Jesus, I think of funny yet insighful things in Black pop culture. Like the episode of Good Times when Michael Evans, much to James' dismay, wanted to hang a painting of black Jesus on the wall:
And Paul Mooney's 2007 stand up comedy DVD Know Your History: Jesus Was Black and So Was Cleopatra:
But with the type face of the opening credis to McGruder's latest series, it just makes me think of 1970s blaxploitation flicks. Speaking of, are there any parallels? Do you think I have any valid points, or am I just ranting? Chime in. In the meantime, you can watch other clips from Black Jesus at Aaron McGruder's Youtube page here.