Last night, Adult Swim's animated series "Black Dynamite" closed its second season with "The Wizard of Watts," an hour-long musical featuring the voices of Tyler, the Creator and Erykah Badu. The episode is a parody, of sorts, of the 1978 musical The Wiz (the titular role is voiced by Magic Johnson), but it's also centered around the ever-relevant subject of police brutality. (At the risk of some very low-key spoilers: blaxploitation-style hero Black Dynamite takes some time off, white police officers run rampant, chaos erupts, cue Black Dynamite's hallucination of a land called "Ozwatts.") Those with a cable/satellite subscription can watch the episode here, or check the trailer:
In an interview with The Daily Beast, writer Carl Jones (a veteran of another envelope-pushing Adult Swim series, The Boondocks) had a lot of insights regarding the show's often controversial socio-political implications:
I think the types of stories we do are very similar to what happened with hip-hop. We’re looking at what’s going on in our surroundings and in our communities and we’re contextualizing it in such a way that makes it palatable for everyone—even who may not share that experience. I think a lot of it has to do with the attitude and the energy behind it and the honesty. It’s transcending racial barriers and all socio-economic dispositions, as well—which is a cool thing. All of our fans aren’t black. I think a large majority of our fans are [other] nationalities. We don’t set out to just speak to black people, [but] we try to tell stories that are personal to us and that we’re passionate about and be honest about who we are. If people like it, so be it.
And he made sure to note that the episode goes beyond Ferguson as an isolated incident (in fact, it was created well before that happened):
The Wizard of Watts is not just about police brutality. It obviously wasn’t done with Ferguson in mind because it was done way before that. I don’t want to paint the picture that this is our answer to Ferguson or speaking to Ferguson. There are so many layers to this movie and so many other things that we want to do that we don’t want to be overshadowed by the way the media has a tendency to spin what the show is about just because of what’s happening right now. There are a lot of other things that you can get out of it.