Aaron McGruder’s Tyler Perry: Just Another Gay Joke From The Emasculated Black Man?

So, I stayed up and watched Boondocks last night, and I must say Aaron McGruder is trying to turn this season around something fierce. In the episode entitled,”Pause”, the show begins with the boys and Granddad watching a play. The play shows a man dressed like Tyler Perry’s Madea character walking on stage while a young lady and a male are sitting on a couch center stage. The Madea like character(called “MaDuke’s” in the show) responds to seeing the couple together by gesturing, pulling out a gun, and asking,”Who dis?” “MaDuke’s” then shoots several shoots in the air. The whole scenario is reminiscent of Tyler Perry’s stage plays.

As the show continues, we find out that Granddad is seeking a role in one of “Winston Jerome’s” plays. We soon find out that Winston Jerome wants a man to play the role of “MaDuke’s” love interest. So, we have a cross-dressing man, seeking a man to play the role of his man dressed as a woman-but-supposed-to-be-a-woman character…I know, I know.

So, McGruder takes us on this voyage of his world’s version of Tyler Perry/Madea in the form of Winston Jerome/MaDukes. McGruder communicates in a not so suitable manner throughout the show that Winston Jerome is more than just an overzealous Jesus Freak who likes to cross-dress for ticket sales–he is also homosexual. As GrandDad is being selected for the role of MaDuke’s love interests, we see Winston Jerome surrounded by shirtless men in speedos, his “shirtless men”. McGruder uses a white Jesus while Jerome narrates how Jesus co-wrote his first script. Upon asking Jesus how to help spread Jesus’ message, McGruder has Jesus reply,”Cross-dressing”. I felt that “McGruder at his most extreme” moment when GrandDad(Robert) is lead into the “compound”(which actually looks a little like Perry’s Studio in Atlanta). Upon entering, Jerome as MaDukes begins a musical number very reminiscent of the performance of “Let’s Do The Timewarp Again” from the cult classic, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The song Winston as MaDuke performs is entitled,”Its Alright To Cross Dress For God.”

The idea of Tyler Perry, I mean Winston Jerome, running a cult is threaded through out show once we enter the compound as a woman with eyes drawn in a hypnotic trance mentions twice that she needs to get “koolaid”(a referrence to the grape flavored mix used to hide the taste of cyanide in the Jonestown cult mass murder). In fact, as Robert(GrandDad) enters the compound for the Rocky Horror routine, he is greeted by a woman who is holding a glass of what could possibly be kool-aid.

The climax of the show is reached when Huey and Riley attempt to “save” GrandDad(Robert) from kissing MaDukes. They tussle with the elder Freeman until Huey slaps GrandDad(Robert) and GrandDad slaps Riley(You know Riley got to get his face handed to him physically in every show!!). Once again, McGruder references the cult by having GrandDad(Robert) say,”I know it is a homoerotic Christian Theater Cult. But if it gets me into Hollywood who cares?” This is where McGruder reintroduces the original plot theme, and somewhat of a moral dillema of sorts: what is going too far for fortune and fame(hey, an aliteration without even trying!). Another interesting point that is rekindled at the point of climax(no homo), is the use of a phrase, “pause” to express that a man is not homosexual–although their comments might conjure up homosexual references– while addressing a black man who cross-dresses for a black church going female audience. Which in turn raises a question about the susceptibility of the church going Black audience.

I’m not quite sure of McGruder’s own sexual orientation, but this is one of those times when he really brings out the extreme exaggerations to make a point about black male masculinity. This episode in many ways reminds me of the “Gangstalicious” episodes with the homosexual rapper influencing men to wear tank tops, skirts, and purses(Part 1, and Part 2. And of course, in the end we find out that Winston Jerome is indeed homosexual as he propositions Robert(GrandDad) for some “ass”. The final scene shows GrandDad and the boys riding with one of the “big girls” home, as Riley rewinds and pauses(literally) the clip of GrandDad(Robert) kissing MaDukes.

One of the overall problems I have with the critique and the support of this show is that McGruder is NOT addressing the Black Church. He is addressing the exploitative use of the name Jesus, and more directly he is address Tyler Perry and black homosexuality. There are no church scenes in this show, and I think that many are wrongly critiquing this show on that merit. There are some very strong and poignant points that are being made, enough that we don’t have to dig for any that aren’t. I enjoyed the show thoroughly, however, I do feel that McGruder is basically doing what he suggests Perry is doing. It is no secret that many black men don’t respect Perry, and in many ways Perry’s success, or his being chosen for success, represents a further nod at the emasculation of black men. However, I would be amiss if I didn’t state that Tyler Perry does address a lot more topics than the “dark/light skinned thing”, and he does portray black people in more than the traditional stereotypical roles. Which is sort of funny that McGruder feels the need to attack that angle as he has a flock of obese black women chasing GrandDad(Robert) down, and shows black homosexual men with scarves and bald heads(reminscent of Damon Wayans’ portrayal of Blaine Edwards on “In Living Color”). I wish McGruder could have dealt with the collaboration of Perry with Oprah on projects like “Precious” that present some of the most ugly and detrimental images of Black women of our modern time.

I suppose addressing real issues like that wouldn’t be quite as funny for black men as making gay jokes. The hypermasculine gauze is wearing thin for some of the writers out here. One aspect of the show that I’m not reading about is how McGruder uses Riley(the hypermasculine youngster) to explain the usage of ‘No Homo’ and ‘Pause’. How many caught how Riley hugs GrandDad(Robert) just for using the term!!? I don’t want to give McGruder more credit than he might deserve, but I’ll say the contradictory devices used in his work bring a lot to the show. However, I think the desire to call Tyler Perry a homosexual is going to overshadow the need to bring awareness to black women of how susceptible they have become to the name “Jesus”.

We can hint that Tyler Perry is the flamingo club all-star, and flaming is a strong enough term, but that isn’t going to change the fact that he built his audience from the church going black woman, that he can use the word “Jesus” in the same ways that Obama used “Change”(It shouldn’t surprise us that McGruder’s first episode this season was a critique on the “Obama Effect”). Do we really think women are going to stop watching Tyler Perry’s movies? Do we think Hollywood is going to “blacklist” a homosexual Black Man with his hands tied by the purse strings of the American Black woman? Trust me, for every ten men calling Tyler Perry a homosexual coon, I can show you ten men that will let their woman drag them to a movie or play made by a homosexual coon. Tell me I’m wrong.