The Boondocks 3.01 “It’s A Black President, Huey Freeman” Review

Mark O. Estes May 2, 2010 7

Back in 2008 when history was being made, I, as well as some others, wondered what would Aaron McGruder, the creator of The Boondocks, would have to say through the eyes of his cartoon characters about the “Great Black Hope” named Barack Obama. Well, it is now 2010 and we finally got our answer in the premiere episode of the controversial animated series’ third season, and that answer is sure to cause ripples within the black community.

For those of you who are not aware of the show, The Boondocks takes a satirical, sometimes scathing, look into the black community as well as America as a whole. The show has shown a mirror on the black community by focusing its critical eye on BET, civil rights leaders past and present, and R. Kelly to display the stereotypes that haunt the general black population (and how they are harmful in every shape, way, or form) through laughter.

Now a friend of mine and myself agreed that The Boondocks is a sort of paradox that can spill “the truth,” which can be hurtful, yet right on the money. But said “truth” can either go over the head of most fans of the show, or it can be ‘interpreted’ the wrong way, which becomes the basis for some serious, thoughtful debate. Last night’s “It’s A Black President, Huey Freeman” is a dead on example of such a scenario.

The plot featured a German filmmaker documenting the 2008 Presidential Election and the black communities response to the historic event. The filmmaker eventually follows The Freeman Family (which consists of brothers Huey and Riley and their grandfather, Robert “Grandad” Freeman) and their neighbors as they gave their two cents on the possibility of the first black president being voted into office. The filmmaker then fixates himself on Huey, who is seemingly the only black person who is not affected by the Obama bandwagon. Huey’s response to possibly having the first black president? “Eh.”

Then hilarity really ensues.

The filmmaker also follows a rapper named Thugnificent, a character who is a parody of overtly virile rappers, who quickly jumps on the Obama rally to make himself more profitable, but instead makes himself look even dumber than he was before joining will.i.am (an entertainer who was very vocal during the election) in doing a duet titled, “D*ck Riding Obama.” The song and video became one of the top trending topics on Twitter during the writing of this review. In fact, the episode dominated the trending topics on the social website, which also gave word that will.i.am is NOT amused by his portrayal in the episode. See? The ripple effect is most definitely at hand.

The episode ended with some of the pro Obama characters being upset that things didn’t live up to the way they thought it would when Obama became President Obama and, in effect, turned anti-Obama. Huey also claimed to have gone in “retirement” in terms of being a “domestic terrorist”. Funny stuff, right?

The Boondocks, no matter how funny, ‘wrong’, or over the top it can be, has always had a message in the core of each episode. The message last night dealt with the blind faith that most people (all races, creeds and genders) felt the black community were engaged in while voting for Barack Obama. In other words, some black people voted for Barack Obama because he was… well, black, and not for his politics. The episode also touched on the media circus that pervaded throughout the campaign, which brought out people who never associated themselves with politics a day in their life. So, McGruder and camp gave their answer and they gave it loud, but this is where the paradox kicks in.

Remember, last night’s episode was trending pretty tough on Twitter, but people were/are giving McGruder props for delivering “the Truth” and calling out the alleged ‘ignorance’ that dominated the black community during the election when it came to their lack of knowledge of Barack Obama and his politics. But this is one of those cases when I think that the episode’s message both went over people’s heads AND people took it the wrong way, because not one person has owned up to what McGruder pointed out last night. Everybody took a ride on the Obama train in every, shape, way or form. How is that? Well, for one, the fact that some black people lacked knowledge behind what Barack Obama stood for and his policies didn’t stop anyone from registering the uninformed to vote nor did it give them incentive to help educate anyone on said lacked knowledge. You see, those people that were doing all that assisting in registering and rallying to get people to vote? They are some of the same ones who are happily singing “D*ck Riding Obama” and calling McGruder a genius. Did we learn our lesson from last night’s episode? In my opinion, not quite, and therein lies the paradox.

The bottom line is that The Boondocks is back and coming at us hard, especially with it being the last season of the contentious series. The video for “D*ck Riding Obama” will be a YouTube sensation for weeks to come. Hell, folks are even asking to have the song as a ringtone, it is that popular. The animation has had a slight face lift, as well as the opening theme song, but the same acerbic witty storytelling is still thankfully in place. The “Truth” is back in top form, but the questions to ask now are 1)Will we be able to take it? and 2) Will we be able to take it and do something with it?

Now, THAT is some “Truth” to chew on…

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  • Jack

    there was one line from Huey when he was sitting on his front step where he said "whats the point of talking when we don't learn" or something along those lines. think it was towards the end of the episode. That speaks directly to what you are on about in regards to admitting fault amongst the ignorant consciousness after the fact. This is a matter of human nature in my opinion. Not everyone can be an idealist.

  • http://www.twitter.com/tmcydame tmcydame

    Good analysis. I agree with everything here, save the bit about registering people to vote. I think that's slightly out of context concerning the conveyed messages, but I get where you were coming from.I do think the one thing missing from much of what anyone's said about the episode's intent is Huey's purpose in getting to Canada. I think he wanted to get out of the country because he saw that the people here were blind enough to attack him for staying mute about where he stood on Obama, interpreting that his "eh" meant that he was anti-Obama when there was no interpretation to be made.It was a shot at those people who ride for Obama by sticking his name as their political status on Facebook, the fool who wrote "My President is Black (My Lambo's Blue)" and, generally, those people who act out of haste and fear when they don't understand why someone doesn't agree with their point of view instead of listening (i.e., those nutty people on the far right who are spitting on congressmen and slurs at them). If you belief that you're compassed about by a nation of reckless people which will attack you for keeping your mouth shut, retiring and fleeing North isn't such a bad option — even if you've gotta hitch a ride with an unreliable Uncle Tom. Good for us, Huey can't drive.

  • justintheredeyejedi

    The juxtaposition of Ruckus also shows the 'other' side (Republicans)And Huey knows it's all a play on a grand stage

  • ange

    McGruder isnt as deep as he thinks he is, this episode reminded me of early Boondocks episodes:Disjointed, bad comedic timing, and just boring writing. Come'on aaron, the later seasons were right on point, dont let us down!

  • frank jr.

    I don't watch the show much but I would have bet 1,000 that it would have taken this slant. nothing deep-assuming the black community made an ignorant choice or that they didn't know about Obama's policies? I didn't jump on the bandwagon, didn't just vote for him because he's black and still support him…but I guess a character like me wouldn't have the deep "irony" or be funny.

  • Nick Combs

    i refute, rebuff and reject aaron mcgruder! basically, f**k him! who does he think he is?!

  • Talie

    good review, thanks.