The recent announcement, already apparently abandoned, that some within organized labor want to abandon “Scabby the Rat” drew immediate protest.
Sean McGarvey, president of the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Department, said in a now-deleted tweet, “Meeting with our Presidents and state councils. Issued a call to retire the inflatable rat. It does not reflect our new value proposition.”
As Mike Elk reported at In These Times, the response from union members and lovers of the widely recognized inflatable rat, used to draw attention to workers’ actions, was immediate. One of the loudest wasScabby the Rat himself, via a Twitter account used most of the time to disseminate labor news by a self-described independent hacktivist, consultant, and writer based in Chicago. “’Value proposition?’ Here’s the proposition: treat workers fairly. Here’s the value: you get to do business,” he tweeted in response, the start of a stream of tweets quoting famed labor leaders and denouncing “MBA weasel-speak.”
Love for the rat seems to have trumped value propositions for the time being—since the story broke that leadership was reconsidering his usefulness, he’s popped up in New York, Washington, DC, and even outside the home of Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. His end seems to be a long way off, but where did the rat get his start?
Scabby was born in 1990 in Illinois, from the minds of organizers Ken Lambert and Don Newton from District Council 1 of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers. According to council director James Allen, the organizers got together and suggested a “bigger than life” symbol for picket lines that would get people’s attention and immediately send a signal to the businesses being picketed.
The Boondocks Creator Aaron McGruder Tells Us About The Uncle Ruckus Movie
It’s always scary when Hollywood tries to bring your favorite comic and cartoon characters to life in live-action films. For every success story like Sin City, there are innumerable steaming piles of shit like Aeon Flux. So when I heard there were plans to pull Uncle Ruckus from the pages of TheBoondocks and put him on the big screen in a live action R-rated comedy, I had a lot of questions. Uncle Ruckus isn’t just any ordinary fictional character, and The Boondocks isn’t your average comic strip and animated series. The Boondocks, now in the midst of producing its fourth season for Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, is one of the few programs on television that uses scathing satire to make you laugh and think critically about racial issues, politics, and modern life in America. And Uncle Ruckus—the white-people worshipping one-eyed right-wing nut job whose name has superseded “Uncle Tom” as the preferred pejorative for black sellouts—is probably the show’s most compelling and painfully hilarious character. When I first heard about the proposition of The Uncle Ruckus Movie, the last thing I wanted was for Hollywood to swoop in and make a quick buck by cashing in on the laughs Ruckus’s racist barbs garner, without delivering the more thought-provoking messages on race relations that we get in TheBoondocks comic and show.
Then I saw the teaser below, and all of my doubts were put to rest. In it, actor Gary Anthony, who voices Ruckus on the Adult Swim series, appears in full Ruckus regalia, equipped with a rotund belly and the signature snaggletooth. It looks perfect. And most importantly, Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder is spearheading the production, ensuring that it will be smart, confrontational, and funny, instead of a soulless cash grab.
To raise funds for the production of The Uncle Ruckus Movie,Aaron’s team has launched a Kickstarter.They’re only about halfway to their goal of $200,000, and there is only a week left to pledge. So hurry up and contribute, because if they don’t hit their target by March 1st, the project won’t be funded and we’ll never get to experience all of the new and awful ways in which a real life Ruckus can racially berate his fellow human beings.
I used this exciting news of The Uncle Ruckus Movie as an excuse to badger Aaron McGruder’s press people until they let me talk to him for a half-hour. We chatted over the phone about the new film, the origin of Ruckus, and a bunch of other things like black self-hatred, post-Obama race relations, and why Herman Cain is a real-life Uncle Ruckus.
VICE: How did you know you wanted to make a movie about Ruckus? Aaron McGruder: It started with the fact that I’ve never had a real interest in doing anything live action with Huey and Riley, because they are impossible to cast. Even if we found two perfect kids, they would grow out of that perfect state pretty quickly. The animated series really made it impossible since their voices have been established in the minds of the fans. If you deviate from that, people are going to hate you.
Well lookee what the mailman just plopped on our doorstep from the kind people over at Adult Swim. Yes, it is a glorious bundle of Superjail! swag, and we intend to give it all to you, you lucky bastards. Anyone who knows anything about our operation will be aware of our perenniallovefor Superjail!, and can therefore imagine the internal anguish we’re going through at the thought of parting with these DVDs and nifty laptop covers. But we are prepared to hand all of our better sense to Jailbot to throw into the incinerator for a few measly impressions from you.
Art Talk with Superjail creator Christy Karacas
You see, when we first had the idea of running a contest to give away these shrink-wrapped laffs and psychedelic laptop covers, we thought about creating a challenge commensurate to the reward its winners would receive. Unfortunately, after a lot of back and forth with our legal and financial departments, we were told building a life-size replica of Superjail complete with a blood-thirsty Jailbot and throwing seven contestants in there to fight to the death wasn’t realistic from either the legal or monetary standpoint. So instead, we’re asking for your best Superjail! character impression in either MP3 or YouTube form (heavy preferential treatment will be given to costumed video entries). You can mimic whichever character you like, and the three best submissions will be given their very own Superjail! season 2 DVD and laptop cover. Also, the winners, as well as the less-shitty of the losers, will be published on this very blog for the whole world to watch. And who knows, maybe someday one of Christy Karacas’s voice actors will get hit by a cement truck and he’ll ask YOU to be their replacement! Send your entries here.