Sunday, February 3, 2008
The satirical film Bamboozled covers many of the most divisive and important issues in our society today, especially for African-Americans and minorities in general. Lee's film covers the story of writer Pierre Delacroix as he attempts to get fired from his television network by creating the most offensive and racist TV series he can. By enlisting the help of street performer and tap dancer Manray, Pierre creates the New Millennium Minstrel Show in which black actors are subjected to acting in blackface. Manray's name is changed to Mantan and along with his partner Sleep-n-eat they move from the city onto a watermelon patch in the deep south during the post civil war reconstruction. Although Pierre prepares himself to be fired at his sheer disrespect towards the black race to his surprise his inherently racist script is taken by his superiors and turned into an overnight TV sensation. Spike Lee uses this film to tackle issues that are not seen and heard as much within the community as well as the public spectrum, but that desperately need to be heard.
The issue of what it is to be black and the preconceived notion of blackness is one of the most important controversies that still exists within the American people's minds today and one that is thoroughly covered in this film. From the beginning of the film the actors chosen to be in the menstrual show are forced to act in blackface no matter what their complexion actually is. Lee uses this not to show that skin tone is the matter at hand but that no matter who is chosen by the studio there job is to uphold the ideals of American Blackness. According to media and the constant portrayal of blacks on MTV, BET, and COPS, to be black in America is to be lazy, ignorant, angry, dangerous, and having an "I just don't give a fuck" attitude. This atrocity that America and it's media powers have created is one of the most destructive forces that they could have devised. It has put it into the minds of millions of young blacks that the only way to be themselves and fit in is to "keep it real." But "keepin it real" is one of the most dangerous mentalities that any people of the world can harbor, for if one is to stay "real" to the images of blacks on television then one is creating a race of people that will be crippled for life. It is time to throw off the white version of blackness and create our own, for if we allow their definition to rule and govern us then we are no better off then when we were in shackles.
Clip from the film: Is this what it is to be Black?
Although the preconceived notion of blackness is only one issue that is covered in this dynamic film there are many more facets of this satirical piece that can be analyzed. Such things include whites acting "black", Hip-Hop music and culture, blacks in the corporate world, the social responsibility of actors and other high profile blacks, the ideas of "house-niggaism", and the list goes on and on. Through this film Spike Lee took a big shot at the world in which we live and the people who control the images we see. In response his film was only aired in a few theaters due to public outcry at the images and ideas it displayed. In my opinion this film if viewed with the correct mindset can correct and bring to light some of the most damaging aspects of American society. It is obvious that in more ways to count that the government and media have made a strong effort to keep the people ignorant and it is up to us to tear away this mentality and fight back. If we don't act out and fight this ignorance than we will truly continue to be bamboozled.