Boondocks Blues: Mourning McGruder’s Departure
If you’re a fan of Aaron McGruder’s comic strip turned animated series, The Boondocks, you were likely as excited as I when you learned that after being canceled for years, the show is being brought back for a fourth, and final season! However, much to my dismay, I later learned that the show’s very own mastermind, McGruder’s level of involvement creating the last season is reduced to zero percent. What’s the big deal?! I’m so glad you asked…
Created by a young, outspoken, African American college student, The Boondocks has always been quite proficient in the ability to both educate and entertain its viewers. Given the fact that the characters are also African American males, (who also tread the fine line of vast intellectualism and crass ebonics -filled vulgarity), it is vital to the integrity of the broadcast that the show remain created, and fashioned by those who deeply understand the dichotomy of this (urban) community.
This hilarious and highly satirical show delves into some deep-seated issues that exist exclusively within the black community. The overall intention being for black America to take an exaggerated glimpse at itself, and gauge where to begin making changes. So, without the original creator involved with producing this season’s episodes, what will happen to the underlying message?
So, It’s a Black Thing?!
Yes and no. Obviously, this series was created to speak to the black, urban community. While others are free to watch and even chime in with commentary, this is clearly something that should remain under the watchful eye of African Americans. Especially, given the fact that the show is known for dropping the n-word and other highly controversial, urban words and phrases. Therefore, it is quite unsettling to ponder who will now be the General in charge of dropping these n-bombs, and their true intentions.
It’s a McGruder Thing!
From an article in the LA Times, McGruder is quoted as saying:
“It was important to offend, but equally important to offend for the right reasons. For three seasons I personally navigated this show through the minefields of controversy. It was not perfect. And it definitely was not quick. But it was always done with a keen sense of duty, history, culture and love. Anything less would have been unacceptable.” ~Greg Braxton
To touch lightly on the matter of intellectual property, it must be argued that even though this show bears the same name, it is no longer the same show. Regardless of the overall level of understanding of the writers and corporations now officially running this show, it can never be what it once was, without McGruder’s involvement.
Further, many assert McGruder has “sold out” and simply gave up his right in favor of profit. To this I say, it is easy to point fingers and judge others based on details from situations that you will likely never know. No artist or creator of anything easily gives up their rights, and walks away from their creation, if there are any other options.
To take a step further, (by adding my personal inferences) perhaps McGruder is a victim of murky wording and complicated contractual obligations. That is to say, it is highly probable that McGruder gave up some of his creative rights to secure a deal with Adult Swim. Thusly, he may have been forced out of the last season due to the inability to commit to aggressive timelines, and other complexities that often accompany the making of a television series. Whereas, usually the creator being unavailable would be a deal breaker, there are often loopholes to be exploited once you’ve already gotten into bed with big business.
The Bottom Line
Although I am hoping for the best for this series, I can’t help but wonder if the final season will turn out to be yet another watered down version of the original. The term “sell-out” is not used in these instances without reason. Corporations only have interest in broadcasting shows they believe will make lots of money.
In lieu of full creative control, artists gain the ability to make larger sums of money as well as broadening their fan base. In short, if you’re upset about the final season because you believe McGruder “sold-out” and “gave up” his rights, you could’ve expressed this outrage from the moment you heard about season one airing on The Cartoon Network…