I saw the episode where Gangstalicious is beefing with some other rapper whose name I can't remember. This continues McGruder's attack on hip-hop. I think it's coming from a place of love for the hip-hop movement, but in portraying the rappers as stupid, consumerist, and violent he portrays the hip-hop community in the same way Bill O'Reilly would. This ignores the white supremacist system that drives mainstream hip-hop production. You know as well as I do who drives up the sales of “gangsta” rap, who benefited from and facilitated the distribution of crack and violence in communities of color - which of course is destroying the very communities that hip-hop was built to serve. Couldn't McGruder also have included some fat old white guys smoking cigars and laughing up to their necks in $100 bills to counter the images of black people being stupid and beating one another up? Also, on this point, McGruder and other people who poke fun at mainstream hip-hop have a pretty narrow vision. I mean, some pretty conscious and real artists are still out there, and even popular – real popular. Kanye, Mos Def (who I noticed does some voices for the show), Mary J. Blige, Common, OutKast, the list goes on. And “gangsta” isn't limited to hip-hop; two words – “Toby Keith”.
Next – the portrayal of women in the show. I do think that “The Boondocks” has many valuable things to tell us about race in the
And then what about the primary adult male character - what is it with Grandpa? How is his character ignoring the fact that when a single grandparent raises young men of color, it's more often than not a grandmother, not a grandfather? It seems like the show is subtly taking shots at thousands of grandmothers raising children by ignoring them. And is Grandpa's whole tough-love approach just reinforcing the conservative idea that what blacks in the
All right, I'm almost done, but I do have one thing to end with. At the end of the “Gangstalicious” episode, Gangstalicious turns out to be gay, and gives a speech to Riley about never having wanted to act so tough. This is a great twist and has some good, complicated things to say about masculinities and the counterstory. I'm still thinking about what this ending means for the rest of my thoughts in this email, but it made me think of a point Amiri Baraka was making in the book “Blues People: Negro Music in White America.” In writing about black minstrel shows after the Civil War, he writes that many times the black performers were actually making fun of white performers making fun of black folks. Is this what McGruder was doing with this episode? Does that make sense? Complicated.