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.

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

  1. Thanks, Owl! I love this breakdown and I think you’re right that despite the complexity of the show, the trading off of stereotypes is a pot calling the kettle black situation and the accusation or “forced outing” of Tyler Perry for allegedly being gay overshadows the more excellent points McGruder was trying to make about hypermasculinity and the ridiculousness of the “no homo” phenomenon. The Rocky Horror Picture Show spoof was hilarious, though.

    1. The show was hilarious, to be sure. But I do feel that McGruder and even Chapelle don’t push themselves past surface humor. “Nigga” jokes, “gay” jokes, and popular culture references are great to see in cartoons and dealt with humorously, but they are still surface.

  2. Thanks, Owl! I love this breakdown and I think you’re right that despite the complexity of the show, the trading off of stereotypes is a pot calling the kettle black situation and the accusation or “forced outing” of Tyler Perry for allegedly being gay overshadows the more excellent points McGruder was trying to make about hypermasculinity and the ridiculousness of the “no homo” phenomenon. The Rocky Horror Picture Show spoof was hilarious, though.

    1. The show was hilarious, to be sure. But I do feel that McGruder and even Chapelle don’t push themselves past surface humor. “Nigga” jokes, “gay” jokes, and popular culture references are great to see in cartoons and dealt with humorously, but they are still surface.

  3. *whew*

    i have not watched this episode and although i was a huge fan of mcgruder’s comic strip, it has taken me a while to fully embrace the long-form of his alter egos. i think the comic strip versions had more bite and sense. maybe it was too much. maybe the move to TV forced him to move more to extremes. unfortunately, the political undertones and overtones of the comic strip don’t translate well to the screen in my opinion. (same with perry’s – his overtones are way too LOUD) it’s TOO obvious in some respects. i was saddened to hear that he decided to pull his comic strip out of the syndication. i looked forward to it every saturday just like a kid waiting for saturday morning cartoons. it was “our little secret.” now that kim kardashian and “others” who rep mainstream support it, my allegiance is not as strong.

    having said that, i cannot comment fully without having seen this episode, but just from your description, i can say that caricatures are more easily palatable, which in a sense does mirror the images some black churches (okay – let the crucifixion begin), and, sadly, a huge part of perry’s audience. this is who he started catering to and continues to do so but he uses alfre woodard and cicely tyson to real the rest of us in..*sigh*

    so mcgruder is not completely in the wrong for not addressing the black church because it WAS IN the script: a given. in other words, WE were the black church watching the display he created…

    ta da!

    or maybe i’m thinking too deeply…but i still want to give mcgruder credit for being THAT clever – so clever that only the enlightened can pick up the messages and nod in agreement with the hidden meanings behind the seemingly bafoonery that only mainstream will allow and can comprehend..

    IDK…lemme review the show first, then i can see if my assumption is true. or i could be way off the mark and mcgruder just wanted to have a “gay” ol time with perry and basically zero in on perry’s much-speculated sexual orientation and how he leveraged the “chitlin circuit” into a multi-milion-dollar empire by emasculating the black man. maybe mcgruder was just…um…mad??

    another great post, my Brotha! i’ve been away from these for a minute….:)

    jj

    1. If you need a link to the show give me a scream, but I think McGruder intentionally played down the church in order to emphasize the cult of Tyler Perry. I have no doubts that McGruder is touching on a macro issue, but he certainly made sure that we knew he talking about Perry/Madea. I don’t want to build too far without you having had a chance to check out the show however.

  4. *whew*

    i have not watched this episode and although i was a huge fan of mcgruder’s comic strip, it has taken me a while to fully embrace the long-form of his alter egos. i think the comic strip versions had more bite and sense. maybe it was too much. maybe the move to TV forced him to move more to extremes. unfortunately, the political undertones and overtones of the comic strip don’t translate well to the screen in my opinion. (same with perry’s – his overtones are way too LOUD) it’s TOO obvious in some respects. i was saddened to hear that he decided to pull his comic strip out of the syndication. i looked forward to it every saturday just like a kid waiting for saturday morning cartoons. it was “our little secret.” now that kim kardashian and “others” who rep mainstream support it, my allegiance is not as strong.

    having said that, i cannot comment fully without having seen this episode, but just from your description, i can say that caricatures are more easily palatable, which in a sense does mirror the images some black churches (okay – let the crucifixion begin), and, sadly, a huge part of perry’s audience. this is who he started catering to and continues to do so but he uses alfre woodard and cicely tyson to real the rest of us in..*sigh*

    so mcgruder is not completely in the wrong for not addressing the black church because it WAS IN the script: a given. in other words, WE were the black church watching the display he created…

    ta da!

    or maybe i’m thinking too deeply…but i still want to give mcgruder credit for being THAT clever – so clever that only the enlightened can pick up the messages and nod in agreement with the hidden meanings behind the seemingly bafoonery that only mainstream will allow and can comprehend..

    IDK…lemme review the show first, then i can see if my assumption is true. or i could be way off the mark and mcgruder just wanted to have a “gay” ol time with perry and basically zero in on perry’s much-speculated sexual orientation and how he leveraged the “chitlin circuit” into a multi-milion-dollar empire by emasculating the black man. maybe mcgruder was just…um…mad??

    another great post, my Brotha! i’ve been away from these for a minute….:)

    jj

    1. If you need a link to the show give me a scream, but I think McGruder intentionally played down the church in order to emphasize the cult of Tyler Perry. I have no doubts that McGruder is touching on a macro issue, but he certainly made sure that we knew he talking about Perry/Madea. I don’t want to build too far without you having had a chance to check out the show however.

  5. I thought the episode was on point. The third season has been a little lighter on substance than the others (did you see the kickball episode?), but this one had a point.

    I find some of Perry’s work entertaining, but if it wasn’t for his image as some king of religious role model, many people would be a lot less accepting of his antics. I don’t care to speculate on his sexual orientation, but any man who makes his living in a dress is ‘suspect’ at minimum.

    You mentioned Chappelle in one of your replies – have you heard his take on cross-dressing in Hollywood?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9CmuIU8u5w

    1. I think it was really funny. As always the execution was superbly outlandish. However, at the end of the day all we got was Tyler Perry runs a homosexual christian cult, and he is an undercover cock smuggler. That’s deep? I think not, Cal.

      And my point with Chapelle was that his work was surface. Same argument I have with McGruder. Great work on the third series, great work on the upcoming film…but…this ain’t satire at its finest. I’d like see less finger pointing.

  6. I thought the episode was on point. The third season has been a little lighter on substance than the others (did you see the kickball episode?), but this one had a point.

    I find some of Perry’s work entertaining, but if it wasn’t for his image as some king of religious role model, many people would be a lot less accepting of his antics. I don’t care to speculate on his sexual orientation, but any man who makes his living in a dress is ‘suspect’ at minimum.

    You mentioned Chappelle in one of your replies – have you heard his take on cross-dressing in Hollywood?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9CmuIU8u5w

    1. I think it was really funny. As always the execution was superbly outlandish. However, at the end of the day all we got was Tyler Perry runs a homosexual christian cult, and he is an undercover cock smuggler. That’s deep? I think not, Cal.

      And my point with Chapelle was that his work was surface. Same argument I have with McGruder. Great work on the third series, great work on the upcoming film…but…this ain’t satire at its finest. I’d like see less finger pointing.

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