n-word on 'Boondocks' TV

topic posted Mon, July 18, 2005 - 10:14 PM by  Shocka
'Boondocks,' epithet coming to Cartoon Network

By CHASE SQUIRES, Times TV columnist
July 18, 2005

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - The N-word is coming to the Cartoon Network. A lot.

Actually, it's coming to the Cartoon Network's edgier programming, a late-night block dubbed Adult Swim.

Cartoonist Aaron McGruder's controversial strip The Boondocks debuts Oct. 2 as an animated cartoon. In the 60-second clip shown to television critics Sunday, the N-bomb is dropped.

Remember, it's not on a premium channel; the Cartoon Network is on basic cable.

McGruder, a black man who said he tries to slip the word into his syndicated comic strip (which runs in about 300 newspapers including the St. Petersburg Times) , admitted most newspaper editors won't go along with him. But on TV, it's his show, and he'll write what he wants.

"The N-word is used commonly, not only by myself, but by people I know. It feels fake not to use it," McGruder said.

The Boondocks, which revolves around two black brothers who live with their grandfather in a mostly white neighborhood, has often been controversial for its blend of tough commentary with a hip-hop attitude.

It has addressed topics as diverse as the sexy videos on Black Entertainment Television, Condoleezza Rice's romantic life and what Santa Claus thinks of black children. Just last week, the strip infuriated many readers for taking the name of Jesus Christ in vain.

Critics on Sunday pressed McGruder on why he was flinging the word around, given how long it's taken to make the epithet taboo. One critic asking a question pointed out that she couldn't even use the N-word in her question.

"Am I allowed to say it?" McGruder asked. He then uttered it four times, to huge laughs from the crowd of mostly white critics.

"It is what it is," McGruder said. "I understand that word upsets a lot of people. That's what late-night cable is for."

And to pretend that the demographic that tunes in to Adult Swim isn't exposed to the word regularly is naive, he said.

"Fifteen, 16 years after the advent of gangsta rap, the young, white kids have heard the word n-----," McGruder said. "If they start using it all of a sudden on Oct. 3, I take no responsibility."

The Rev. Al Sharpton, one of the country's most recognizable civil rights activists, was less than enthusiastic about McGruder's choice to use the racially charged term so casually.

At a panel promoting his upcoming political talk show Cuttin' Up on TV One, Sharpton said he was concerned. "Where do you draw the line?" he asked. "You have to be very careful."

Roland S. Martin, executive editor of the black-oriented Chicago Defender newspaper and host of TV One social commentaries, was more direct.

Without hesitation, he said he opposed the use of the N-word. Period. "You can bet I'll be talking about it," he said.

The Boondocks premieres 11 p.m. Oct. 2 on Cartoon Network.
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