What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that although Black Dynamite is a cartoon, it's definitely not for most teens, thanks to excessive language ("hell," "ass," "damn," and "bitch" are audible; "f--k" and "s--t" are bleeped), sexual content, and prevalent violence. The main character sleeps with multiple women at a time (hanky-panky goes on under the covers, but it's not hard to guess what's happening), another is a known pimp, and the group lives in a place they call "The Whorephanage." There's a lot of partial nudity, with busty, scantily clad women in and out of scenes and full-frontal nudity obscured only by a modesty bar over the groin area. Violence erupts in nearly every scene, leaving victims dead or maimed. Drinking, smoking, and drug use also take place, all within a gratuitously stereotyped urban African-American culture.
What's the story?
BLACK DYNAMITE is a satirical cartoon set in the 1970s that centers on a slick former CIA agent named Black Dynamite (voiced by Michael Jai White) who, together with his posse, wages war on the nefarious Dr. Wu (Roger Yuan) and his army of ninjas. When they're not stalking their nemesis, Black Dynamite and his inner circle -- including Bullhorn (Byron Minns), Honey Bee (Kym Whitley), and Cream Corn (Tommy Davidson) -- find themselves in outrageous circumstances that often bring them in contact with cultural icons like Richard Pryor and Michael Jackson. The series is a follow-up to the 2009 live-action movie of the same name and features animated versions of many of the original characters.
Is it any good?
Irreverent and rampant in stereotypes but undeniably entertaining, the animated version of Black Dynamite ramps up the parodies of the '70s "blaxploitation" films like Shaft as only a cartoon can. Dynamite and his jive-talkin' crew hole up in a hangout "for whores and orphans," they engage in sex with multiple partners, they exact violent justice on anyone they want, and their four-letter language would make saints out of sailors. In other words, they're not the kind of gleaming examples of responsible adulthood you want to present to your kids -- but for its intended adult audience, this over-the-top spoof of the movie genre will have you laughing out loud.
If you're arriving at this cartoon after watching its parent movie, you'll find the plot mostly toes the line set by the original. Because of its decidedly mature content, it's not an age-appropriate choice for most teens, especially if they're not familiar with the films it satirizes. But if yours do tune in, draw their attention to the faint glimmer of sociological value that exists in the racially and socioeconomically charged storyline, which can give way to discussions about race relations, poverty, crime, and drug use.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how a show's style affects the impact of its message. Are cartoons like Black Dynamite less salacious or upsetting than the same content would be in live action? Is there really a market for "grown-up" cartoons?
What, if anything, is this show's message? Is it attempting to influence your beliefs or expose you to something new, or is it just for entertainment? Is there value of any kind to anything the characters do or say?
Is anything about this show a positive or accurate reflection of the culture it aims to parody? Do you find the content offensive? How would a person's racial background affect how they receive shows like this one?