Black Jesus: ‘Have some f—ing faith bruh!’

Aaron McGruder was so unconcerned with your feelings about the new show “Black Jesus” that he couldn’t even be bothered to get the man’s hair right, so the chances he gives a fig about the show being protested by Christian groups who call it “blasphemous” are, frankly, infinitesimal.

Rather than give Adult Swim’s audience woolly-haired Jewfro Jesus, McGruder opted to give his protagonist, our lord and savior, a conk. That’s right, Black Jesus, played by Gerald “Slink” Johnson, is sporting a head of improbably silky highlighted tresses. Though if you really want to get down to Jesus’s follicular particulars, it’s a wig — a cheap one.

In the eyes of angry Christians, this is but a minor transgression. They’re more concerned because they think the actual Jesus is being slandered in the name of television ad buys, and they want Adult Swim to yank the show before it airs on Aug. 7.

Currently, there are at least four Change.org petitions asking Adult Swim to cancel the show. The biggest one, by Christian Network, has more than 3,000 signatures. It asserts that the show is “blasphemy and an insult to all believers of Jesus Christ. This TV show has twisted the words of our Lord to make a mockery of him and simply can’t be tolerated. This show is also racist and degrading to the black community.”

Black Jesus, it turns out, is not actually depicted as the messiah — well, not as a sure thing, anyway. Vic, played by Charlie Murphy, observes: “he ain’t Jesus Christ. He’s just some crazy dude who thinks he’s Jesus.”

Which seems about right, considering that we see Black Jesus skipping through Compton, Calif., cursing, handing out 40 ounces and smoking up everybody’s weed. As grifts go, you have to admit that, “Hi, I’m Jesus, the guy that died for your sins 2,000-plus years ago” is, at the very least, an interesting one.

This reaction is hardly unexpected, and if anything , is probably welcome, as it burnishes Adult Swim’s and McGruder’s credential as pot-stirrers. Pretty much anytime there’s a farcical depiction of Jesus in pop culture, there’s a backlash. Christian groups were incensed in 2008 when the trailer for “Hamlet 2″ included the movie’s song “Rock Me Sexy Jesus” — and there were calls to boycott it, too.

McGruder, also creator of “The Boondocks,” is fairly inured to reactions like this:

Soraya Nadia McDonald covers arts, entertainment and culture for the Washington Post with a focus on race and gender issues.
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