McGruder's Take on Perry Draws Blood

The Boondocks' recent swipe at Tyler Perry was funny at times, but homophobic and hard to defend.

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For a while now I've had a love-hate relationship with Aaron McGruder's The Boondocks. I loved The Boondocks as a newspaper comic strip and raised hell trying to get my local "fish wrap" to carry it. I've found The Boondocks cartoon on the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim lineup to be occasionally funny and other times totally laugh-free. One recent episode, during which thug wannabee Riley goes on a vandalism rampage with a psychotic classmate who arms himself with a gun, was more depressing than amusing. In its third (and last) season, The Boondocks has been divided between the misses and the hits.

But when it does hit, The Boondocks draws blood. Last week's episode, where McGruder ripped into Tyler Perry for his crappy plays and movies, was one such example. It had me laughing -- but for all the wrong reasons. It was a crude and obvious shot at Perry, characterizing him as a down-low, predatory homosexual and Jesus-peddling hack. For now you can still catch all 22 minutes of the frivolity online, but the link might go dead at any moment.

More details from the L.A. Times:

In "Pause," an episode written by McGruder and executive producer Rodney Barnes that aired Sunday, a thinly disguised version of Perry named Winston Jerome is positioned as a closeted, cross-dressing cult leader whose love of the Christian faith is a mask for his true sexuality. Though the character bears little physical or vocal resemblance to Perry, the reference is obvious to those familiar with Perry's work. The dancing Ma Duke is a clear parody of Madea.


The Jerome character wears a pink sweater, is surrounded by bare-chested muscular men and constantly proclaims his love for Jesus even as he attempts to seduce Granddad (John Witherspoon), the guardian of the two boys, Huey and Riley Freeman, at the center of the series. The fame-hungry Granddad is trying out for a part in Jerome's new play, Ma Duke Finds Herself a Man.


Near the end of the episode, Jerome bluntly asks Granddad for sex; the old man responds, "Do you mean to tell me that this whole cross-dressing Christian cult crap is just so you can sleep with men?" "Uh, pretty much, yeah," says Jerome. The episode marks one of the sharpest public criticisms of Perry. Huey Freeman calls the script for Ma Duke "terrible." The Perry brand has also been blasted by some critics and entertainers, such as Spike Lee, who say Perry's projects perpetuate negative stereotypes and present a narrow view of African American life. McGruder and executives for Turner and Adult Swim declined to comment on the episode. Representatives for Perry did not return phone calls.


There are news reports that Perry was so incensed by the episode, he fired his entire writing staff. Did McGruder have some inside information about how things work on Team Perry? Then again, considering how lousy Perry's TBS comedy House of Payne and his movies are, maybe he should have fired his writers a long time ago.

 

McGruder is probably safe from any threat of litigation from Perry, as parodies and satires of public figures are legally protected speech. McGruder is probably feeling rather pleased that his put-down of Perry hit him where it hurts. Still, if the rumors are true (and rumors are all they are at this point), it would be pretty cold if Perry bounced a bunch of writers during this rocky economy because he suspected one or more of them ratted him out.

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