Cross-posted at the African American Books Examiner. Scroll down for video.
Boondocks, Season 3/Episode 8 entitled "Pause," will be available online, but last night Twitter went aflutter over the show's skewering of Tyler Perry. The movie mogul is despised in some parts of the black community where it's declared he furthers black stereotypes. I see the critiques as evidence of our class struggle issue between the Spike Lees of the black community and the church-going folk with southern sensibilities. Tyler began and continues to build his empire through a southern-style church-loving tradition.
I have seen some scathing, homophobic posts about Perry from certain bloggers over the years who say they hate the man. In addition, I've watched a few conversations about the native New Orleanian roll through Twitter as black social activists, PhDs, and media critics bear verbal claws and fangs to rip him to shreds.
What I see in these debates is that Perry faces the same kinds of criticisms Zora Neale Hurston received from the "intellecutal" black writers of her era, including Richard Wright.
Miss Hurston voluntarily continues in her novel the tradition which was forced upon the Negro in the theater, that is, the minstrel technique that makes the "white folks" laugh. Her characters eat and laugh and cry and work and kill; they swing like a pendulum eternally in that safe and narrow orbit in which America likes to see the Negro live: between laughter and tears….Her opponents also spread rumors about her sexual orientation. Interestingly, some of the people who lambaste Perry, love Zora and defend her as a genius. We'll see how time treats Perry.
No further comment on last night's episode of Boondocks except to say that you'll see a Rocky Horror Picture Show spoof, former hookers talking about giving it up for Jesus, and the "no homo" clip I mentioned a while back. Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder suggests Perry uses love of Jesus to cloak homosexuality and indulgence of some other behaviors some Christians call sinful. While much is made of Perry dressing as a woman, theater historians will attest that men dressing as women for the sake of laughs is a time-honored tradition among thespians.
While it seems to me that McGruder, whose middle name is "controversy," may be the type to let these clips stay up on YouTube, I'm not sure Adult Swim will. So, watch it while you can. McGruder may anger a whole lot of folks at once, but the young man does have a gift for cutting satire. In this case, his satire is closer to personal ridicule than political commentary.
Pause: If episode is not visible here, try this link.