Stunning satire deserves awards

By Marie-Claire Backhaus

In today’s world, discrimination still exists. The fear of reprimands from discrimination causes people to overcompensate by being excessively politically correct. Spike Lee’s Bamboozled questions the idea of race in the television industry.

This movie often takes us to the edge of social taboo in regards to "race." It handles controversial comedic matters, tough racial questions and makes you think.

As if he were an endangered species, the film focuses on Pierre Delacroix (Damon Wayans), a young African-American television writer. So far, Delacroix is unsuccessful in writing a show that could go to production. His boss, Mr. Dunwitty (Michael Rappaport) culturally rips off the stereotypical African-American by trying to act black. Now Delacroix seeks to come up with something fresh, inventive, and most of all Black–or else. This job isn’t that easy for Delacroix; Dunwitty wants him to get in touch with his "black roots" because in Dunwitty’s words, "I’m blacker than you."

Backed against a wall and wanting to give up, Delacroix decides to get fired. He comes up with an outrageous farce of stereotypical comedy, called Mantan: The New Millennium Minstrel Show. The show stars Mantan (Savion Glover) a homeless tap dancer and his sidekick Womack (Tommy Davidson). This show transports us to the old days of "black face" minstrel shows. These shows in the past had white actors dressed up as African-Americans who acted out the stereotypes of black culture at the time.

To his surprise, Delacroix’s show becomes an overnight success. Mantan tries to represent itself as a hip, funny way of tackling old stereotypes. Spike Lee leaves the question in our minds whether this truly conquers the stereotypes or makes them worse. Either way, Delacroix must now defend his creation. Feeling like Doctor Frankenstein, he wards off attacks from all sides, including those from his assistant Sloan Hopkins (Jada Pinkett-Smith). The story leads us through some unexpected changes, but still manages to keep the intensity of the message.

The way this film is presented is both extremely different from other movies and aesthetically pleasing. Spike Lee copied the camera movements and fussiness of such shows as The Real World or COPS. At first it was tough to get used to the cinematography, but it actually helped the movie in the end.

The characters, especially Delacroix, were excellently cast. Damon Wayans deserves recognition for his role.

An enjoyable film to watch, Bamboozled was intelligent, ground-breaking and deserves a lot of acclaim. It’s all summed up in a quote from one of Spike Lee’s other films, Malcolm X: "You’ve been hoodwinked. You’ve been had. You’ve been took. You’ve been led astray, led amok. You’ve been bamboozled."


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