The Boondocks is one of the smartest, funniest shows on television albeit a very controversial one. That is a fact, well actually it is our opinion, but it is a widely-shared opinion at least.
(Technically, no one is sure whether or not this show is still on television. Show creator Aaron McGruder has stated multiple times that season 3, which aired in 2010, was going to be the last season. Rumors have been circulating since the beginning of 2012 that McGruder is set to release a 4th season of the criminally underrated show sometime in 2013.)
For those of you who aren’t familiar with The Boondocks, it originated as a comic strip written by Aaron McGruder and transformed into a hysterical cartoon airing on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. The show follows the life an African-American family living in the mostly white suburb of Woodcrest. It revolves around the aforementioned Freeman family consisting of Riley, Huey and Robert (Grandpa).
Naturally, in this day and age, if you like something you follow it on Facebook. Being that The Boondocks is one of our favorite shows, it has been marked as such on Facebook. This way, alerts and updates pop up on everything Boondocks related. Earlier this week the feed was blowing up over an upcoming announcement to be made at 4PM PST on January 31st. Our original inclination was that they were finally going to officially announce an upcoming 4th season of the show. This in itself would have been welcomed news, but the big announcement was something completely different.
The actual news announced was that Aaron McGruder is planning on releasing a live action movie following one of the show’s most polarizing characters, Uncle Ruckus!! Again, if you are unfamiliar with the show, shame on you, but the video below illustrates most of the reasons why you should be so excited by this.
McGruder has started a Kickstarter campaign to partially finance the movie and is asking for help from the fans. The reasoning, as McGruder explains, is that the producers of the cartoon (SONY) are not involved in any way. This seems to be a labor of love for the fans.
The Kickstarter page can be found here.
We at Poor Scholars implore you to back the project with any rank you can afford. In an example of the wit of McGruder, he has named all of the ranks after “great white Americans.” Seriously check them out; if you are a fan of the show in any way you will not be disappointed as to who has been classified as “great white Americans.”
I have already backed the campaign to the tune of the “Clint Eastwood” rank and I’m already looking forward to receiving the DVD, backer button, and digital downloads of both photos and tracks (an EP of songs released by Uncle Ruckus himself!). Trust me if we weren’t the poorest of scholars we would be backing the project with waaaay more money.
I am going to turn this over to fellow Poor Scholar writer, Brian Godar, to get some of his thoughts about a potential live-action Uncle Ruckus movie along with some of his favorite Uncle Ruckus episodes and moments.
Uncle Ruckus (no relation) is by far the most controversial character on The Boondocks, which is the most controversial animated show on Cartoon Network, and was spawned from one of the most controversial comic strips of its time. That’s a lot of controversy to be surrounding one animated person, but I assure you it is well deserved. Before I get into explaining my favorite Ruckus moments from the show, I thought I would explain what makes him such an integral part of The Boondocks, because you really couldn’t have the show without him.
The Boondocks excels in political satire, focusing especially on the issue of race and particularly on the evolution (or, more to McGruder’s point, de-evolution) of African-American culture in America. This is evident from the beginning, when the show has the Chicago-born Freeman family move into the affluent white suburb of Woodcrest. Regular satire works well for most issues on the show, but the trepidation surrounding racial issues means that sometimes the deftest approach is to go in with guns blazing. Smart, simple satire doesn’t work when the entire political system is trying to keep those issues under wraps, and Uncle Ruckus is there to overact the subtle racism that is present in society today so that the issue is recognized by more people. The job of the Freeman family is to deal with racism, black culture, and social integration with smart satire or outright disgust. Uncle Ruckus’ job is to provide an example of racism and make sure that the underlying issue is so overt that the viewers, who are largely white, blatantly know what the issue is and don’t make assumptions that could end up leading to more racism. He also has great comedic timing; and that helps.
Narrowing my selection to three episodes that best showcase Ruckus was difficult, as Ruckus is used excellently in his role as the foil of African-American progression in our country. His extremist views leave no doubt to his role on the show, which is to act as the stereotypical racist old family member that many white families have. Casting him as a black man who hates himself makes his racism so overt that he moves beyond the realm of criticism. Anybody who watches the show immediately understands that Ruckus’ character is at odds with the tone of the show, and that is played up for humorous results as well as being a learning device. Uncle Ruckus shows us overt racism,
In this episode, the Freeman family’s ancestor, Catcher Freeman, is examined from three radically different viewpoints. The first viewpoint casts him as a hero of the slave community, freeing slaves from plantations and generally causing as much havoc as possible in the Confederate States, leading up to him murdering the owner of his plantation and freeing all of the slaves there. Once this romantic version is laid out, it’s Uncle Ruckus’ turn. As you can imagine, his version differs drastically from Robert’s version. In the Ruckus version, Catcher Freeman is the epitome of what a slave owner wanted in a slave (the intelligence and power of a farm animal), who hunts escaped slaves while running on all-fours and foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog. Catcher swings from tree to tree like a ninja Tarzan while hunting slaves by smell due to his heightened animalistic senses. In Ruckus’ version, Catcher is tricked into sleeping with a black woman, then bound with chains and forced to watch as his master is killed by the other slaves. After Ruckus and Robert finish their versions of the story, Huey googles Catcher Freeman and discovers that he was neither a champion of slave rights nor a slave hunting animal, but rather a simple man who accidentally kills the owner of his plantation, who was actually his father and makes the Freemans part white. This leads to the legend that is the basis of Robert’s story. All that being said, Ruckus’ version was the funniest.
2. The “S” Word
This episode has one of the funniest Ruckus moments in the entire series. The episode starts off chronicling a real story where a white teacher calls his black student a “nigga.” The episode parallels the story, with the teacher explaining that he only said the word because that particular student used the word almost nonstop, and a taste of his own medicine was in order. With such a ridiculous story to draw ideas from, this episode is one of the more racially charged and entertaining of the entire series. When Uncle Ruckus is informed of what the teacher said and asked for his opinion in a news interview, he launches into his most epic tirade. He starts off saying he thinks it is wrong to call a student that because the more a white person uses the word, the less power it has. Instead, Ruckus believes white people should start rotating their racial slurs the same way that a farmer rotates fields to prevent the ground from becoming fallow, so that the words hurt every time they are said. He finishes his diatribe with a list of just about every racial slur anybody could think up. I know I personally had not heard at least half a dozen of the words that he used.
Here it is: the most Ruckus-packed episode of The Boondocks. In it, Ruckus dreams that he visits heaven and is greeted by the ghost of Ronald Reagan (his personal hero). Reagan explains that this is White Heaven, and that in order for Ruckus to go there when he dies, Ruckus needs to spread the word of White Jesus.
Ruckus begins preaching the word of White Jesus, which boils down to “If you are white, you are going to White Heaven.” This goes over very well with Woodcrest’s mostly white population, and Reverend Ruckus becomes the most popular preacher in town. When Ruckus finds out that he has a tumor on his back and will die in a few weeks, he begins preaching with even more vigor, proclaiming that black people can reach White Heaven if they hate their own blackness enough, the way that Ruckus himself does. At a revival meeting that Ruckus hosts, he proclaims that what he says is the word of God, and that if he is lying, Ruckus should “be struck by lightning right this very instant!” At that point he is immediately struck by lightning, which has the effect of causing his followers to believe that God has called Ruckus a liar as well as burning the tumor off of Ruckus’ back, meaning he is no longer dying. This is a bad thing for Ruckus, who was looking forward to going to White Heaven, but it is a great thing for fans of the show that would be lost without Ruckus’ ridiculous unwavering hatred of himself and his entire race.
Let’s just hope now that the goal is reached and we are all gifted with a live-action movie of this guy.