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Bamboozled is a 2000 satirical film written and directed by Spike Lee about a modern televised minstrel show featuring black actors donning blackface makeup and the violent fall out from the show's success.
- Written and directed by Spike Lee.
- As I bled to death, as my very life oozed out of me, all I could think of was something the great Negro James Baldwin had written. "People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become, and they pay for it, very simply, by the lives they lead."
- Feed the idiot box. Feed the idiot box.
- The mission was accomplished. All of these people left the room thinking they would have real input. I was writing this pilot alone. Myself. Me. Moi.
- You know, I grew up around black people my whole life. I mean, if the truth be told, I probably know niggas better than you. And don't go getting offended by my use of the quote-unquote N-word. I have a black wife and two biracial kids, so I feel I have a right. I don't give a God damn what that prick Spike Lee says. Tarantino was right. Nigger is just a word. If Ol' Dirty Bastard can use it every other word, why can't I?
- Delacroix: We're all happy to be here and I'm going to paint a picture for you.
- Dunwity: I'm wid it.
- Delacroix: I've done a lot of soul searching and once again you are right. In my previous work it's been all surface, superficial. I have never really dug deep. Not anymore. As Mark Twain fully understood satire is the way. Race has always been a hot button in this country's history and it needs to be pushed harder. If we are ever to live side by side in peace and harmony. It's about promoting racial healing.
- Dunbwity: Go on. Good so far.
- Delacroix: I know you're familiar with minstrel shows. They came about at the turn of the 19th century. It was a variety show in which the talent was in blackface - singing, dancing, telling jokes, doing skits. Dunwitty, I ask you when was the last time there was a good variety show on the air. Carol Burnett? HeeHaw?
- Delacroix: Mantan and Sleep 'n Eat. Two real coons. I know we're way out there but it's satire.
- Dunwitty: I want you take it there. All the way to the edge and back.
- Myrna Goldfarb: I happen to have a Master's degree in African-American studies.
- Pierre Delacroix: So you fucked a nigger in college.
- With Bamboozled, Lee takes a look at one of film and television's rarest breeds-the black television executive. His satire is based on the current lack of diversity in Hollywood, where 75 percent of television writers are white. And in most cases, the minority writers at networks are all working on the same show (in 1999, it was found that ABC employed nine black writers-all assigned to the same sitcom). In order to succeed in his position as a black television executive, then, Lee's main character delves back into the history of blacks on screen to revive one of the most popular forms of early entertainment: the Minstrel. And with the Minstrel, of course, comes Blackface-perhaps the most dreaded image in the history of American media.
- Rebecca Cantu, "About Face: An Interview with Spike Lee", The Crimson, October 20, 2000.
- A: I had more trouble getting this film picked up by a studio than any other film. But that's expected given the content.
- Q: Are you worried that there may be public outcry from the black community about the content of the film?
- A: I am sure that there will be some criticism, but that has to be expected. The content of the film will raise some uneasy feelings, but by no means am I worried. I actually think that it's great that the film will raise discussion and I don't mind it being the stepping stone to people becoming aware of things that have been forgotten or ignored. There's a lot of ignorance about the history of these images. It is a movie that makes people sit down and talk about what they just saw. I actually think that it needs a second viewing for the audience to understand everything.
- Q: So who is the movie supposed to speak to? To black audiences or white audiences? Or do you think that it has a message for everybody?
- A: No question about it, it's for everyone to watch. I know that it's painful at times, but we're not making this up. The depths of degradation in cartoons, movies, and television shows, the misrepresentation of a people - it's an American legacy. Not just in television or movies, but in all media.
- Q: How did the actors feel about blackening up?
- A: They absolutely, absolutely dreaded it. There's no question that they felt it was dehumanizing. Some of the cast and crew weren't familiar with blackface, actually. They didn't know what to feel and I could tell that they were just dumbfounded.
- Q: In Bamboozled, you're not only talking about the history of racist media images, but you're also commenting on the state of the current media landscape. There are shows on television today that are the subject of your parody, correct?
- A: There are plenty, and we all know what those shows are. My film is supposed to reflect that; it is an indictment of the people who write and accept those shows, because we know that they exist today. It also has to do with the $1 million question: What is black? It is a never-ending quest for who we are, and some people are still in search of that.
- Spike Lee, ibid.
- Damon Wayans as Pierre Delacroix/Peerless Dothan
- Savion Glover as Manray/"Mantan"
- Jada Pinkett Smith as Sloan Hopkins
- Tommy Davidson as Womack/"Sleep 'n Eat"
- Michael Rapaport as Thomas Dunwitty
- Mos Def as Julius Hopkins/"Big Blak Afrika"
- Thomas Jefferson Byrd as "Honeycutt"
- Paul Mooney as Junebug
- Gano Grills as "Double Blak"
- Canibus as "Mo Blak"
- Charlie Baltimore as "Smooth Blak"
- MC Serch as "One-Sixteenth Blak"
- The Roots as The Alabama Porch Monkeys