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October 15, 2003


Boondocks: Unfunny

hueyYet another consequence of 9/11 that Osama Bin Laden could never have foreseen is that "The Boondocks", a comic strip by Aaron McGruder, has garnered a lot of attention for itself, mainly by becoming critical of the Bush administration and the knee-jerk patriotic jingoism that followed the WTC attacks. Shortly after 9/11, McGruder introduced the characters "Ribbon and Flagee" to parody fleeting patriotism, and a few of the strips were clever. But for all the attention McGruder's strip receives, more often than not, it isn't funny.

McGruder tends to rely on easy jokes and common assumptions, resulting in a lot of strips that land with a thud. A few months ago, the Chicago Tribune opted not to run two McGruder strips because they weren't "up to [their] usual standards". As I recall, there wasn't anything particularly controversial about that day's strip -- it was just so unfunny, the paper decided not to run it.

Yesterday, the Washington Post opted not to run The Boondocks. Why? Because not only is the strip not funny or interesting, it's also offensive. The strip in question takes a shot at Condoleezza Rice, which is fair, but in the second panel, one character says to another, "Maybe if there was a man in the world who Condoleezza truly loved, she wouldn't be so hell bent on destroying it." In the last two panels, nothing of any value or interest happens. So what exactly is McGruder trying to say? A woman's policy decisions are based on her love life? Well, that's very brilliant and radical, Aaron. No wonder liberals love you. Some are theorizing the Post killed the strip because Rice is too powerful to upset, but it seems to me that the Post had a better reason: The Boondocks had nothing new or interesting or amusing to say.

The thing that I think is sad about this -- if anything about a comic strip can be sad -- is that The Boondocks could be so much better than it is. Some of McGruder's post-9/11 stuff was smart, funny, and risky, and he emerged as a voice of dissent. But apparently the well over at Boondocks doesn't run very deep, and McGruder has regressed to rehashing old stereotypes about women.

ps. I'll add some links to specific strips later on.

Update: Marcy sends in today's strip which finishes the joke. The character admits its sexist nature thereby making it funny, apparently. Sorry, Aaron: it's still an easy joke.

categories: Media
posted by adm at 10:52 AM | #


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