Adult Swim has pulled an episode of The Boondocks. The episode, “The Story of Jimmy Rebel," features Uncle Ruckus, a self-hating Black character used by the show as the embodiment of internalized white supremacy, singing with a racist country singer about Black people. The song, which features tons of racial slurs and imagery, is meant to further the show's commentary about how Black people are viewed by white supremacists and America as a whole.
A rep told The Daily Beast, “When Adult Swim transitions series to a new platform we determine what episodes are selected through creative and cultural filters and our standards and practices policies," said the representative. “Oftentimes these decisions are made in collaboration with the show's creator." Another episode that has been pulled is Aqua Teen Hunger Force's “Shake Like Me," in which Master Shake is colored brown with big lips and an Afro while acting stereotypical and “Boston," an unfinished parody episode about the 2007 accidental bomb scare that occurred during the promotion of the film, Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters. Another missing Adult Swim episode is The Shivering Truth's “Ogled Inklings," in which a woman gives birth to a police officer, who is later called a “dirty pig."
Fans on Reddit began noticing that the episodes were missing from HBO Max in June. Cartoon Network (Adult Swim's home) and HBO Max are both under WarnerMedia. According to The Daily Beast, HBO Max (via spokespeople) said that “neither of those episodes are a part of our streaming deals," meaning they will never air on the streaming platform. A representative for Adult Swim also said that when its series go to other networks, Adult Swim determines which episodes will make the transfer.
The episode was written by the show's creator, Aaron McGruder, a Black cartoonist who originally debuted The Boondocks as newspaper comic strips in 1996. The strips ran until 2006. Uncle Ruckus is a character who was added to comic strips' jump to television. McGruder didn't provide the Daily Beast with a statement regarding possible involvement in HBO Max's decision not to air “The Story of Jimmy Rebel."
According to Deadline, the decision is part of HBO Max's increased sensitivity toward problematic subject matter, such as providing context for films like Gone With the Wind and Blazing Saddles. But removing the episode shows a lack of not understanding The Boondocks' use of satire and allegory to educate about racism in America.
A reboot of The Boondocks is expected in fall 2020 on HBO Max.
Photo: Adult Swim