Aaron McGruder’s Black Jesus Series Prompts Protests & Scholarly Discussion
One week from today (August 7), Aaron McGruder’s “Black Jesus” will arrive on Adult Swim. The “Boondocks” creator’s latest venture is a satirical look at Jesus Christ, returning to physical form, as a Black man. With the trailer already out and stirring up both promotion and controversy, not everybody is thrilled for the televised “second coming.”
According to a report published at OkayPlayer, a particular Shreveport, Louisiana Christian group accuses McGruder’s latest TV spoof that it “mocks and degrades who they know their savior to be” and that “Our Jesus is not an alcoholic. Our Jesus is not riotous and unruly.” The AFA (American Family Association) also criticizes the series’ profanity and depictions.
On this same subject, CNN published an op-ed by Middlebury College instructor and religious scholar Jay Parini. Initially looking at Aaron’s show premise, Parini deduced, “The general notion [of ‘Black Jesus’] seems clever: A guy who thinks he is Jesus, who might even be Jesus, lives in a poor neighborhood of Compton, California. He’s got a ragged band of followers — they look like winos and potheads — who follow him around with lots of bantering. The scenes shown in the trailer seem relatively funny, and it appears that nobody is quite sure whether this is a madman who thinks he is Jesus or maybe the Lord himself come back in a strange outfit and, indeed, Black skin.”
Parini goes on to tackle the American Family Association’s point that (many members of) society tolerate mocking of Christ’s image, while it is disrespectful, still taboo, as well as dangerous to portray (let alone mock) Islam’s Mohammed.
Then, pointing to Biblical scripture that suggests that albeit comedic, McGruder’s apparent Christ portrayal possibly aligns with the actual historical figure, Parini writes, “As a Christian myself, I like the idea of seeing Jesus return in various guises, skin colors, outfits and social contexts. Why not? The Jesus I know and love was something of a party animal. His first miracle was to turn water into wine at a wedding: and lots of wine was apparently drunk.”
What do you think? As “The Boondocks” elevated and unwrapped the racial discussions among its viewers, can “Black Jesus” do the same—especially with race and society still involved?