So What did ya'll Think of "Freaknik:The Musical"?

I didn't know about Adult Swim's T-pain anchored animated satirical comedy Freaknik: The Musical until last night, but I don't know if I would have watched it anyways... Here's the commercial for it. I haven't seen it, but I'd love to know what y'all thought of it, if any of you saw it (or just based on the promos below).

here's another Trailer, featuring Rick Ross as Big Uzi.
I really had no plans to blog about this, but I got an email from a friend who watched it and I was actually pretty amused by the promos. I found the trailers pretty satirical, which made it more interesting than if it wasn't aware of how ignorant it is, I guess.
“Anything that’s freaky and black is going to have some type of controversy,” said Carl Jones, a writer and executive producer of the film in a recent New York Times article. “We can’t write around the fact that people are going to be offended, so it just has to come from an honest place.” Freaknik really nods to classic Chuck Jones (no relation) cartoons, which I can't help but find endearing. Like Boondocks, the creators of the show appear pretty self-aware and satirical about what they're doing in interviews, but without having seen the shows, I'm still on the fence about it. What do y'all think?
comments, anyone? 
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Vee (Scratch) said...

I'm kind of mad I missed this. This looks like it may be interesting. Ok, I know there are some folks who will begin to talk about cooning and presenting a better image, blah, blah, blah and I'm with that . . . however I don't think self-expression should be limited, especially in humor. Because if everybody continues to be so self-conscious then artistically there will be no growth. Note, I once read an article where Marlon Wayans articulate that argument really well and it really made sense. People tend to forget that there were a number of issues that were considered taboo in Richard Pryor's act and in Jimmie Walker's portrayal of J.J. Evans.

That's why I was laughing and posted last year that "Hip Hop needs more Big A** Chains."

Thanks for posting this!

samax said...

i make a distinction between pure coonery and smart satire. without having seen it, I'm just not sure which one this REALLY is.

'Boondocks', the 'Read a Book' video, and the Dave Chapelle Show walk the line hilariously. I will see this as soon as i can, and then speak on it again.
thanks for commenting, and for the link!

Anonymous said...

I hear these arguments a great deal:

"They can't all be positive, or "We can't be so self-conscious", or "We have to be able to laugh at ourselves", or "We have to be able to differentiate between scorn and satire", or "We're just laughing at stereotypical behaviour, not black people specifically".

The challenge I always offer is: "Okay, so these shows "walk the line", so name five positive black shows. Name three black animated television shows about normal kids living in North America who have their own age-appropriate problems.

Coonery vs. Satire. I think this debate would hold more validity if there were some other option that was clearly 'positive'. To pick a modern case: Tracey Morgan. Is his portrayal of black people positive, is it 'satire', is it coonery? Well name 3 other positive Hollywood films coming out this year staring black men who aren't named Denzel or Will.

Everyone will come down on the issue where they feel it appropriate. To me it's coonery, including this cartoon, including Boondocks, but other people will say it's satire. There is evidence for both sides. However at the end of the day, the big question is why does every black intellectual property have to be 'on the edge'? There is very few things being made that are just 'good'.

Another case in point: Hancock. Will Smith as a troubled superhero. In order to reform and repay his debt to society, does he commit himself to community service and learn what it means to be a hero? Maybe teach at a local highschool and learn from his students? Or maybe it's just easier if he goes to prison.

I could go on and on. Boondocks. Transformers. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. Cop Out. Read a Book (which is just despicable IMO and demonstrates the hatred of creators for their audience. Who did they make it for? And what was the objective? I saw a spot made by a public library to encourage reading, and guess the colour of the kids involved and guess how many asses were featured).

Are all of these satires? Are all of these on the edge? Then where is the counter-balance? I have no problem with satire and edgy comedy.

The question I have is that if virtually everything black is pushed to the edge, then what is the difference between that and being marginalized?


samax said...

yeah, I hear you, Branch. I agree that there isn't enough balance in the representation of black people in pop culture, but I would still say that Boondocks and Read a Book are both satire. They can't be blamed for the lack of balance.

I also liked and blogged about the Andre 3000 cartoon (Class of 3000), which was not particularly edgy or risque at all (in content anyway), but it got canceled despite how much I liked it.

I only bothered to look for "Freaknik" vids after receiving several emails from people asking my opinion about it this morning.

To your point, I think many of these issues contributed to Chappelle quitting his show.

I think that supporting edgy content is less of a problem than the lack of support for positive content.

as for this one show, I'm still undecided about it.

Vee (Scratch) said...

Ok first, Tracy Morgan doesn't represent black folks. He reps himself. A former alcoholic who's not really that funny.

Ever heard of the Proud Family? Little Bill? The Cleveland Show? and to flip the script a little bit Maya & Miguel. Don't get me wrong, I'm aware there are not a lot of options.

As far as films coming out, I'll just give you a number released in 2009.
1. American Violet
2. Good Hair
3. Black Dynamite
4. The Frog Princess
. . . sure, it is easy to pick apart any of the aforementioned movies but they resonate with many people. On another note, there are are number of good positive films (and documentaries) that are released but not promoted or supported. The counter-balance is there, just not heavily funded. Also note, where you see a problem, some one like Tyler Perry (whether you agree with him or not) saw a solution.

I really don't see how Hancock or Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief plays into this discussion. It is neither satire, nor a black

Two questions:
When will folks be able to simply be silly without being associated with cooning? 2020, 2030, 2040?

Knowing that there's a lack of positive images, lack of balance in most forms of entertainment, do you seek (and promote) the alternative to what's being easily offered?
Note, through the use of the internet it is so easy to find positive programming, Amazon can have good positive films shipped to you within days.

See film
Happily Ever After: A Positive Image of Black Marriage (DVD) $19.99

See the really great graphic books:
Aya by Marguerite Abouet

the BlokHeads

Bayou (Printed) or online in Zuda comics

Vee (Scratch) said...

ooops . . edit

I really don't see how Hancock or Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief plays into this discussion. It is neither satire, nor a black intellectual property.

Anonymous said...

Percy Jackson and Hancock both have very stereotypical treatment of its black characters (which was the point I was making). This is also why I included Transformers in the discussion. And as far as 'black IP', I consider those properties that star black characters as opposed to those that are solely created by black artists. So Afro Samurai would be included even though its creator is Japanese.

And as for Black Dynamite, really another blaxpoloitation film?

Also, Blokheadz, really? A positive alternative? I own that book. I bought it to support black artists, personally I thought it was just awful and almost unreadable.

And Good Hair (which I've seen three times) is a documentary and therefore not exactly applicable.

I am also not suggesting Tracey Morgan represents anyone. But we are talking about characters and types represented in film. Tom Cruise only represents Tom Cruise, but he can be used inclusively to describe roles of white actors.

Vee, to try answer the question you asked at the end: I think that when you have an equivalent voice for the 'non-coonery' side of the equation, then each individual actor/film will be less scrutinized, but right now there is much more work being done on the other side of the equation. Especially in animated films. Also I have seen proud family. It's a good kids show, though as a child I know that I would never watch it. To me it plays more like a girl's cartoon, while something like Darkwing Duck would have grabbed my attention.

One show that I'm surprised no one brought up was STATIC SHOCK! It was a WB animated show based on the old Milestone book. While suffering from the modern blandness of television animation it certainly was a positive animated show starring a black male character.

Interesting discussion.


B_Steelo said...

Good Hair is applicable in my opinion.

I've never gone to Freaknik. I heard about it when I went to Prarie View and wasn't too interested. As far as a play is concerned that's a wait and see.

I will say this though: There is a fine line between not only "coonery and Satire" but also "informative and pompus". And that's an arena that will put a lot of people out about as much, while losing site of the goal of educational or informative. I know this well.

Boondocks is satire. I like it. Matrix series had more black folks in it than I thought a sci fi movie ever would. I can't really say if these people are "going for self" but I do believe they're role models. This is enough to give people the desire for insight I believe. Tracy Morgan may have been a drunk but he made it. That can be inspirational. Even when Charles Barkley said "I am not a role model" he became more of a role model.

I do believe there is a point of overzealous "satire" when it comes black entertainment. I've been waiting on a good black sci fi movie forever. However, like anything, if you don't like it, what are you going to do about it?

samax said...

I'm optimistic about the future in this area because of the internet. there's lots of great stuff to support out there. Looking to corporate controlled media (the real bad guy in this story) to provide balance when it specializes in generating profit from imbalance is just a fool's errand. (I addressed this a while back with hip hop here: )

I used to be very religious (i got over it). At that time, I strongly rejected mass media that was dominated by values I disagreed with. It was not difficult to find music, television, and movie programs that were tailored to values I found more palatable.

and this was before the rise of google, amazon, and netflix (and other companies that specialize in serving niche markets as much as mass ones). I found most good stuff by word-of-mouth.

Social networking, blogs, and other technology advances mean that there is an explosion of every single kind of subject matter and content, across media platforms. And this will only improve. Blogs and tweeters and social networkers (like me) are motivated by passionate love of... whatever. NOT by corporate greed, etc.

As for US, we have to train ourselves to LOOK for what we WANT, and not waste time on what we DON'T want. No matter how much stuff you hate is out there, there is still more stuff you would like than you could possibly consume.

skip the San Diego comicon and go to the ECBACC or Onyx Con (I for the record have not yet attended either). There's balance to be had (at least as individuals) if we look.

B_Steelo said...

I agree. Bands have blown up that you would never have expected because of web presence Facebook messages.

People have what ever voice you're looking to promote. You just have to hustle it.

Vee (Scratch) said...

I have to say, I enjoyed Good Hair. Yes the film had its flaws and I know there are a number of independent indie documentaries that covered the subject but Rock and Nelson George did a decent job. Edutainment.

Total cosign on what you just said. That's one of the major reasons why I have Ghetto Manga on my RSS feed.

Hey Branch,
So one of the things I want to know is when will a guy like Tracey Morgan represents Tracey Morgan? I think he does, but I'm aware of the image his character portrays and the messages it sends. The following films had interesting portrayal of black characters.
- Star Trek
- Avatar - (HA! Blue is the new Black)
- Rise of the Lycans . . . (interesting)
- 2012
Honestly I can't defend any of these films because I don't rep Hollywood or television like that. I don't have really high expectations for mainstream media treatment of African-Americans. Burn Hollywood, Burn is still in effect but too bad folks don't support films like Daughter of the Dusk, Eve's Bayou they'll spend more energy complaining about Tyler Perry. With that said, I'm glad that a cartoon like Class of 3000 got pushed through the door but understands that a Freaknic will also air on Adult Swim. I thought the 3000 was kind of progressive for television in a great way.

Yo, Proud Family . . . do you know how crazy that it is. A girl cartoon . . . a girl cartoon that's not extremely pandering to girls. A cartoon with a regular young black girl as the star. I thought that was really huge. Whether I would enjoy it or not doesn't really matter. After all what's really new or trendsetting about Static Shock.
- ehhh . . . Brotherman >> the entire Milestone catalog.
- blokheadz - Here's why I'm not mad at it. Imagine you're a kid and you find a black property with hip-hop and magical powers. Why not?

You never know what redeeming qualities or lessons a kid will take away from blokheadz, Proud Family, Class of 3000 and even Freaknic. I don't have high expectations for a property like Freaknic, but I definitely can laugh at it. The character design alone for the spirit of Freaknic is funny.

samax said...

"Burn Hollywood, Burn is still in effect but too bad folks don't support films like Daughter of the Dusk, Eve's Bayou they'll spend more energy complaining about Tyler Perry."


Anonymous said...

12 comments?!? I'm glad to have a part in adding to the discussion on GM.

@Vee - I think Tracey Morgan will represent 'Tracey Morgan' when he's not so alone. When you're one of the few black guys in a room, people tend to view you as a window into another 'other' culture, rightly or wrongly. Should he only do positive black films? Frankly, yes. I mean why not? Why can't he do comedies that don't ask him to look like an idiot. Chris Rock turned down Disney money because he didn't want to play a monkey in Tarzan. Now I'm not saying he shouldn't do comedies or he should just do PG stuff, but if black actors will do anything for fame and (more) fortune then we can expect to be having this discussion forever.

As a whole there is more black representation in animation than ever before. Yet how many of them are about music? How many are adult-only? How many show degraded images of women? How many with ugly depictions of black people? How many can do without violence and ghetto culture?

Can anyone name one black fantasy epic?

And Static Shock was so watered down that there was nothing left of it by the time it got on TV. Had they aired the show like it was in the books, we'd still be talking about it now.

On a side note, was I the only one who was disappointed when DC officially folded Milestone into its ranks? I mean who really needs Icon when you have Superman? I saw all those characters just getting sidelined for the Trinity. Maybe I'll be wrong, but I doubt it.

Daughter of the Dusk and Eve's Bayou are two films that I've never heard about, and I keep my ear to the ground about small indy films (I'll check them out).

As for Tyler Perry, I don't see what there is to complain about. He makes positive black films. They don't appeal to me, but they appeal to some people. They put black people on screen as both the hero and the villain. He doesn't parade black women in rags to expose their bodies and degrade themselves. He doesn't promote the violence that is destroying black communities. He doesn't perpetuate the idea that black people are stupid and inferior. Geez, really what more can you ask of any filmmaker?

Also, it is quite refreshing to talk to people who I think all want the same thing, though our reasons and perhaps our methodology might be different. Yet I strongly suspect our goal is the same.

And that is something.


samax said...

I am concerned about losing the Milestone characters in the shuffle of the DC machine. on the other hand, I am glad they will be around at all, and as a cartoonist myself, I may find myself working on one of them someday. so for me the glass is half full.

I think the move means one or more of the characters will get their own book, or at least minis, which is more than what we've gotten since Milestone folded.

I would love to see Duffy step out with a few creators and do creator-owned stuff, similar to Robert Kirkman. He has a huge following, and any creator-owned publisher would be happy to have him. But maybe my indy bias is showing...

My interest/faith in majors to 'get it right' is extremely low, and I applaud loudly when they even try. Static Shock is an example of how corporate groupthink messed up by trying to fix something that was already perfect. But that's how movies, film and teevee are. Because of how much it costs, too many people have to sign off, and most of them just don't get it.

But that's why I prefer comics.

Vee (Scratch) said...

Branch, yeah we basically want the same thing. I'm one to think that the image of Morgan Freeman as the President of the United States in the 1998 blockbuster film Deep Impact can be really positive. Note, Danny Glover played the President in ANOTHER disaster film 2009's blockbuster film 2012?

I rep films like Daughters of the Dusk, Eve's Bayou, 1974's Claudine, the Spooke Who Sat Behind the Door, Cornbread-Earl and Me, Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married and the new Karate Kid.

Side note, the founders of Milestone claim they was always a seperate entity.

A black fantasy epic? . . . Ok, I don't have any real answers but I offer these:
- Meteor Man -brilliant
- Blank Man - (I watched it once)
- Spawn
- the Spook Who Sat Behind the Door - it wasn't sci-fi but it was Fantasy!

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