(More fried chicken jokes!)
Season 3 of the Boondocks ended on Sunday, and I haven’t heard much chatter round the interwebs about it this week. There’s good reason for that: it wasn’t very good.
I’ve had mixed feelings about Aaron McGruder since my former blog-mate saw him give a talk at our Alma Mater in which he maligned Obama (fair enough), but then demanded the student who videotaped the talk fork over the evidence to him (not cool). Then, at another campus talk, he said Obama wasn’t black because he didn’t fit the comic’s own myopic, and factually-shaky definition of blackness (you have to be a direct descendant of slaves). Who made McGruder the black people police?
But on to the show. There’s a fine line between toying with a stereotype to prove a point, and playing out a stereotype on screen for cheap laughs. Time has shown that McGruder is much more adept at the latter. Or maybe it’s that one can only talk about stereotypes for so long before it becomes an instance of laughing “at” us versus laughing “with” us. Back in June over at Ta-Nehisi’s, Dwayne Betts made an interesting point to that end:
…You have to understand that what I now see on The Boondocks makes me fear that the reason why Chappelle left his show was the fast approaching point where there will be no more clever, insightful jokes to make either about black people, poverty, the revolution, black folks’ relationship to fried chicken, black folks’ relationship to white people[...]etc., etc., etc.
I’d have to say Betts is dead-on here. On both shows, at three seasons in, the fried chicken jokes and “ripped-from-the-headlines” stories about random negroes acting up got old. With the Boondocks, all of the stories were stale when this season started. There was the Soulja Boy vs The Old Man Rapper Establishment beef, the KFC free chicken fiasco, a Latarian “I just wanna do hoodrat stuff with my friends” Milton nod, and random stray shots at Obama throughout. In a world where all of the aforementioned events were successfully lampooned ten times over within a week of their happening, McGruder’s “spin” on these issues felt like overkill.
The best moments this season occurred when McGruder & Co got out of their own way for a second, and let past storylines build on themselves. Stinkmeaner, the blind, foul-mouthed octogenarian who Granddad killed back in season 2, came back from the dead with help from nursing home versions of a few 70’s sitcom stars, and an awesome, action-packed, Kung-Fu showdown ensued. But even here the ending message, “sometimes niggas just have to go to jail,” felt weird and forced.
At the beginning of this season there was talk about it being the series’ last. I hope it will be. Or maybe I’m the only one who still watched it up to the end? Could be. I live in Iowa. I won’t claim to know what’s hot on the streets.
Oh, and HELLO THERE! I’m excited to be blogging here. *throws glitter in the air*