Shortly after its premiere at Sundance in 2009 and critical praise from many mainstream critics, a number of hilarious trailers for the Blaxploitation action parody Black Dynamite were released and instantly went viral, exciting film fans everywhere. And then? Well, jack shit, as Black Dynamite would say. While the comedy was briefly released in theaters, the majority of online followers who actually saw the film had to wait until it hit Netflix many months later. “The studios loved it, but they said it was too smart for our audience,” explains the creator and star of the film, Michael Jai White. “Like they know our audience. That’s when I learned that I had to do what Tyler Perry does—have your own marketing campaign.”
Success on home media and with the graphic novel Black Dynamite: Slave Island revived the badass character and helped it find an incarnation as an Adult Swim series animated by the same team behind the acclaimed series The Boondocks. This edgier, animated ’70s universe may be the perfect balance for White’s fantastic throwback character, as the series can go places a mock Blaxploitation flick could never afford, allowing the humor to bloom and evolve. In other words, it’s a funny motherfucker, you dig?
Black Dynamite himself took some time out of his busy schedule of ass-whoopin’ to talk about what makes him laugh, his new animated incarnation, and his goal in our world.
Before we begin, should I call you Black, which makes me feel a little uncomfortable? Or Dynamite? Or BD? What would you prefer?
Call me Mr. Black Dynamite till I know you’re cool.
Where did you come from, Black Dynamite? Give me your backstory.
Well brother, I’m from every dark alley and every oppressed tenement in this country, Jack. I’m from places where gunshots and babies crying are the ghetto equivalent of crickets chirpin’ in the night, brother.
Some people have claimed you actually came from the mind of Michael Jai White. What’s the story behind that?
Well, that’s really a chicken-and-egg type of thing. Did I come from the mind of Michael Jai White or did I enter his mind of his own volition? If a tree fell on your ass in the woods and no one was around to hear, would it hurt?
Do you think this guy White was obsessed with Blaxploitation movies or something? Why the fascination with movies from that time period?
I wouldn’t call it an obsession. I just think he knew what was cool and hip and sexy. Even in your day if you saw something cool and sexy, you got ’70s music playing and some fake-ass Barry White talkin’. Even today, is there anything more sexy then Pam Grier or Billy Dee Williams?
Why was it so difficult to get distribution on the feature film, which was the first time we saw you in the public eye?
Because studios are run by The Man. And The Man don’t dig taking chances with something new. Because studio execs thought it was smart enough for them to buy, but they didn’t think the audience would get it. You dig?
I dig. A.O. Scott of The New York Times said Black Dynamite would be a better “five minute clip on YouTube.” What’s your response to that?
Well, obviously A.O. stands for “asshole’s opinion,” ‘cause we here talking about it right now. Damn movie’s been tweeted about every two minutes since 2009.
How does it feel to go from real-life in the flesh Black Dynamite to graphic novel Black Dynamite and now to animated Black Dynamite?
I feel once you’ve conquered all three of those orifices, you control that bitch.
Which one do you like the most? Which, uh, orifice I suppose, do you like the most?
Well, hmm, I’m kinda partial to the movie.
Is there a live action sequel in the future?
Well see, Black Dynamite, he can do a couple different things. Black Dynamite is very much like Jim Brown, Fred Williamson—they played in different movies, but they played different characters. You might see the cat who played Black Dynamite in another movie that’s not called Black Dynamite.
What makes you laugh, Black Dynamite? What do you do when you wanna have a good time?
Well, I’d say that picture of Irish Jesus, you know, from the Middle East. Talk about a miracle. That gets me every time. [laughs]
What makes you cry, Black Dynamite?
Would Superman offer up kryptonite? There it is. Black Dynamite can’t say kryptonite too well.
What scares you more then anything else?
The fact that you’re stupid enough to give you Black Dynamite’s kryptonite…
What do you think about how quickly everything is moving these days? Do you have a Facebook account or cell phone? What vast change has happened since the ’60s, er, ’70s rather?
Well, I don’t dig it at all. Women are trying to be men and men are turnin’ into bitches. Kids are on leashes physically and mentally. They get pushed to act like adults and they get drugged if they act like kids. In the ’70s, we hid our society’s dumbest motherfuckers, but y’all give them their own TV show. And no, Black Dynamite don’t have a Tweet or a Facebook. That’s even hard for Black Dynamite to say. You can’t say tweet and Facebook and maintain masculinity. Honestly, the bitch-assness has run amuck.
What’s it like on a day-to-day basis at the Whorephanage where you work? Seems like there is never a dull moment.
You seen Harry Potter?
A few times, yeah.
Well, the Whorephanage is pretty much like Hogwarts with hoes. The hoes teach the kids about life—you know how if you’re multi-talented you can expect a high return, things like that. And the kids provide the maternal satisfaction that hoes miss otherwise. It’s a win-win. That’s what we call it: a win-win.
What’s your dream, Black Dynamite? What’s a perfect world to you?
I think we should bring back ass-whippin’. The way I look at it, it’s my duty to bring about a world balance through handing out ass-whippin’s. Think about how great the world would be if Bernie Madoff, Bin Laden, George W. Bush, and Rush Limbaugh were to receive the essential ass-whippin’ that they should have had before they fucked up the world. That’s what Black Dynamite’s whole goal is—to balance it out through essential ass whoopins.