Bamboozled [Motion picture]. (2001). United States: New Line Home Entertainment.
Directed By: Spike Lee.
Starring: Damon Wayans, Jada Pinkett Smith, & Tommy Davidson.
BAMBOOZLED is a spoof on the creation of Minstrel shows. The movie focuses on the life of Pierre Delacroix, who is a determined Harvard graduate. He is the only colored writer for the network and his boss, an uptight wannabe black man, holds him to very high standards because of his color. Since Pierre has had very little success with getting his works on the air, he stops at nothing to get his big break. He is willing to sell out friends, family, and his own people. He seeks the help of two young black men that are willing to do anything for a quick buck, in this case a lot more than a few bucks. Money, power, and respect are put on the line throughout this film.
When Mr. Delacroix meets with Manray and Womack, he promises them stardom and a chance of a lifetime. They were in it for the money and didn’t care what they had to do. The first major unethical occurrence was Pierre’s boss using his color against him, for his own benefit. The next unethical occurrence took place in that conference room when Pierre promised them stardom. He never told them exactly what the show was going to be a bout. He knew they were talented street performers, but he also knew they were desperate for a chance. Taking advantage of two desperate people like that is completely unethical. Since the show was going to have them act as “coons” and stereotypical black people. They were to put on black makeup over their black skin, just as if they were actors in Minstrel show. The difference is in Minstrel shows they had white people with black makeup on, now they have black people with black makeup on.
At first the audience isn’t amused at all by this racist show and wants nothing to do with it. The fans are disgusted by it, by the end of the movie, every fan has their face covered with black makeup and red lipstick. They all proclaim that they too are Ni**ers. At this point everyone of color has come to realize all the negatives that this show had portrayed. They knew all of the negatives originally, but were willing to stop at nothing to get the ratings.
Pierre created this show in order to please his boss. He didn’t see all the harm that could be done by this show. Manray ends up getting kidnapped and then killed by a group of blacks (with one white guy), because he was considered a sellout. He danced, he sang, and he acted the way in which he was like a puppet to Pierre and his superiors. This group didn’t find anything he was doing amusing or ethical. They saw it as a cop out and making a mockery of what already was a mockery of African Americans. Kidnapping is unethical by all means, killing someone over a show and pretending to be activist is also unethical. From start to finish had a lot of unethical components to it, but at the end you really saw the big message that Spike Lee wanted to get across. Sometimes you have to really push the envelope especially around issues such as this, to get your point across.
Photo credit: Bamboozled. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0215545/