While I don’t agree with the move to essentially have the upcoming comedy TV show “Black Jesus” banned before the first episode even airs, I get why Christian groups have already taken offense to its scheduled release on the Adult Swim version of the Cartoon Network.
The trailer of the pilot makes it obvious that Jesus will be painted in the show in a sacrilegious way, or at least it would be reasonable for many Christians to take it that way. It is satirical and biting and written by Aaron McGruder. It seems as though he plans to do to the image of Jesus with this show what he did to black people in his first cartoon, “The Boondocks.”
McGruder is talented and unapologetic so I don’t expect the threat of boycotts would move him much. And while I’ve followed his work only a bit, what I’ve noticed is that if you can get past the biting satire – he is a black artist who frequently took black people to task – there is usually a strong, thought-provoking commentary embedded in his work. His characters are often more complex than they seem at first blush, especially his mix of characters.
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Of course, it is difficult to get past the over-the-top satire in his shows because it often lands like a fist to nose. His brand of satire doesn’t tickle the funny bone in the way Stephen Colbert’s does, at least it didn’t for me when I watched Boondocks. But I watched any way, always looking for a gold nugget, and McGruder often delivered.
But I’m a glutton for punishment. I disagreed, passionately, with the views of the “Duck Dynasty” guys but did not want them taken off the air. There is no love lost between me and Rush Limbaugh and me and Don Imus, but I didn’t want them fired, either. And I was in favor of the airing of a sitcom that featured a wise-cracking slave as its central character even when others protested and eventually got the show banned.
I just think this country is strongest when we have to deal with talented people who rub us the wrong way, not when we push them aside.
Early indications are that “Black Jesus” will rub plenty of Christians the wrong way. That’s not a good reason to cancel the show.