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Bamboozled and African Americans in Today’s Industry

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Essay title: Bamboozled and African Americans in Today’s Industry

The movie Bamboozled by Spike Lee is a very interesting movie which brings up a lot of different points. Although Bamboozled did not receive great reviews like some of Lee’s other movies, I think it brought up a lot of important questions regarding the media and the way film portrays African Americans on T.V. Lee’s movie brings to light the notion that to be black and on television you have to play a certain role or type of character. He makes the point that African Americans are expected to be a particular type of character and that their lives reflect that role. Lee also makes a statement that to be African American and live in the U.S. you have to act a certain way. If you want to be successful you have to entertain or act in a manner reflecting white society’s beliefs about what blacks are. Spike Lee’s movies force people to think about important racial issues and Bamboozled is no exception.

To understand a Spike Lee Joint you have to understand where Spike Lee comes from. Shelton Jackson Lee was born on March 20, 1957, in Atlanta, Georgia, but grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Lee’s mother Jacquelyn was a schoolteacher and Lee’s father was an accomplished jazz singer. Lee’s mother instilled a great love for African American art and literature in Lee at a young age, and Lee’s father taught him the history of black culture and jazz culture. Lee had the foundation to be a very intelligent and influential black figure with a strong sense of who he is and where he came from. Lee got his nickname Spike from his mother because the word suggested toughness. Lee wanted to learn more about his black roots and followed the path of his father and grandfather by attending Morehouse College, an all black college. While attending Morehouse College, Lee’s mother died. Lee’s friends would try to cheer him up by taking him to the movies. After seeing a lot of movies with his friends, Lee became a huge fan of directors Bernardo Bertolucci, Martin Scorsese, and Akira Kurosawa. Lee saw the movie The Deer Hunter by Michael Ciminos and he knew he wanted to make movies. Lee said, "I want to make films." Lee’s friend John said, “But not just any films: Lee wanted to make films that would capture the black experience, and he was willing to do so by whatever means necessary.” From then on Lee did what he could to show his Black upbringing and experience through his films, even if they portrayed negative issues.

Bamboozled was published in 2000. The movie takes place in New York. Bamboozled is a movie about an African American TV producer, Pierre Delacroix, who is trying to get fired because he thinks he is going to get fired anyway. Delacroix and his secretary, Sloan, come up with the idea of casting two street bums, Sleep ‘n Eat and Mantan, in their new millennium minstrel show. The idea is to create such a controversial show that Delacroix would be fired, but instead the show is a hit. Delacroix’s plan backfires and he creates a new racial show that just adds to the stereotypical racial shows in America’s history.

Lee’s movie brings up some very interesting questions. Lee illustrates the question of value through the role of Delacroix. Delacroix is faced with question of what is more important, to be successful or to be morally and ethically correct? Throughout the movie Lee uses very controversial words to describe situations and characters. He uses words like Alabama porch monkey, coon, Tommy Hill Niger, and Negro. He uses these words to show Americans the stereotypes America has about African Americans. Stereotypes play a big role in Bamboozled. The main actor Delacroix doesn’t even know his true identity. He acts white during the whole movie even though he is a black man. This depicts the stereotype of a successful black businessman.

Lee manages to incorporate almost every black stereotype into his movie Bamboozled. The different characters portray the different African American stereotypes seen in movies. Pierre Delacroix played by Damon Wayans represents the stereotypical black businessman trying to do everything he can to fit into a predominantly white business world. In the process he is abandoning his true African American background. Mantan and Sleep ‘n Eat played by Tommy Davidson and Savion Glover depict the typical poor black entertainers who will do anything to make money. Next Sloan is played by Jada Pinkett who is the well-educated female secretary. Finally the rap group “the Mau Maus” is introduced. They are a stereotypical black rap group who portray ignorant alcoholic gangster types. Last is Delacroix’s boss, Dunwitty, who is the stereotypical “wigger” or white guy trying to be African American. He tries so hard to be black that he marries a black woman. Dunwitty even tells Delacroix that he is blacker than him even though Delacroix is a black man and Dunwitty is a white

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