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Blaxploitation vs. Black Criticism: The Boondocks vs. Black Dynamite (rewrite)

Fans and critics alike of Adult Swim’s Black Dynamite, based on the brilliant 2009 

blaxploitation spoof of the same name, have wasted no time in lumping it and sister 

series/racial fire-starter The Boondocks together since its premiere last summer, 

and while the comparison is apt on a superficial level, it isn’t necessarily a fair view of 

the two shows. Yes, both shows share an executive producer/writer in black animation 

juggernaut Carl Jones, a similar if not completely identical animation style, and a  

universally controversial look at Black culture of the past and present; while 

both focus on the same area, it’s important to realize that The Boondocks and Black 

Dynamite both subscribe to different forms of comedy, satire and parody respectively, 

and utilize them in different ways to both celebrate and criticize Black culture with the 

toughest of love and plenty of tongue-in-cheek self-indulgence.           

        

           Created by Aaron McGruder in 1996, “The Boondocks” initially ran as a satirical 

comic strip that put modern day African American culture on McGruder’s objective 

chopping block, exploring its misrepresented yet rich underbelly through the eyes of 

Huey Freeman, a wise beyond his 10 years leftist revolutionary misanthropic budding 

domestic terrorist. His 8 year old brother Riley Freeman, a rap-obsessed, faux-gangsta 

youth who lives in his own bubble of ignorance, or Robert Jebediah “Granddad” 

Freeman, the boy’s ornery self-centered womanizing grandfather content to hop on the 

Civil Rights bandwagon and collect Social Security checks in the autumn of his life 

round out the main cast, all three of whom represent some of the most prevalent facets 

of the African American experience in media: the revolutionary idealist hell bent on 

informing/saving his race, despite the resistance and scrutiny that’s put upon him 

(Huey), the mis-guided hip-hop obsessed youngster bathing in his own ignorance 

(Riley), and the older generation’s ideals and hang-ups with modern culture personified 

(Granddad). These are only a few examples of ways that McGruder uses his 

background and current events to dissect and criticize African American culture. 

Serious-minded, grounded satirical animation is what The Boondocks boils down to. 

 

          Black Dynamite, on the other hand, doesn’t take its subject matter nearly as 

seriously. Stemming from a fake trailer-turned cult favorite feature spoof of 

blaxploitation films, Dynamite, being a blaxploitation project, almost serves as an 

antithesis to Boondocks’ more serious-minded satire; it has much less to say about the 

culture that it represents, instead simply playing with conventions of the genre of film for 

laughs, not moralistic payoff: the straight-faced, no-nonsense bad ass leader (Black 

Dynamite), the right hand man who rhymes within meter (Bull Horn), the slightly 

effeminate second hand man (Cream Corn), and the sexy mama who struts her stuff as 

only she can (Honey Bee); the main conceit of the show pits these four eclectic 

personalities against goofy situation du jour that makes liberal fun of everything from 

celebrity icons (Elvis Presley, Richard Pryor, O.J. Simpson) to film (King Kong, 

Cannonball Run) to socio-political happenings (Vietnam War, Richard Nixon, “the black 

community) infusing a ridiculous premise with a campy lightness of tone that “Boondocks”

tends to lack.

 

          At its most basic level, differing forms of comedy separate these two shows yet 

simultaneously leave room for interesting parallels to be drawn; Boondocks’ cynical 

culturally introspective satire and Dynamite’s more campy hero-worship parody are two 

equally hilarious sides of the Black representation that Adult Swim should be severely 

proud of.

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