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. The
film was given a limited release by
New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema during the fall of
2000, and was released on
DVD the following year. It stars an ensemble
cast including Damon Wayans, Jada Pinkett Smith, Savion Glover, Tommy
Davidson, Michael Rapaport, and Mos Def.
Critical reception was mixed, and the film was a box office bomb.
6 Box office
7 See also
9 External links
Pierre Delacroix (real name Peerless Dothan) is an uptight,
Harvard-educated black man working for the television network CNS. At
work, he has to endure torment from his boss Thomas Dunwitty, a
tactless, boorish white man. Not only does Dunwitty use
AAVE and the
word "nigger" repeatedly in conversations, he also proudly proclaims
that he is more black than Delacroix and that he can use "nigger"
since he is married to a black woman and has two mixed-race children.
Dunwitty frequently rejects Delacroix's scripts for television shows
that portray black people in positive, intelligent scenarios,
dismissing them as "Cosby clones".
In an effort to escape his contract through being fired, Delacroix
develops a minstrel show with the help of his personal assistant
Sloane Hopkins. Mantan: The New Millennium Minstrel Show features
black actors in blackface, extremely racist jokes and puns, and
offensively stereotyped CGI-animated cartoons. Delacroix and Hopkins
recruit two impoverished street performers, Manray and Womack, to star
in the show. While Womack is horrified when Delacroix tells him
details about the show, Manray sees it as his big chance to become
rich and famous for his tap-dancing skills.
To Delacroix's horror, not only does Dunwitty enthusiastically endorse
the show, it also becomes hugely successful. As soon as the show
premieres, Manray and Womack become big stars, while Delacroix,
contrary to his original stated intent, defends the show as satire.
Delacroix quickly embraces the fame and recognition he gets from the
show while Hopkins becomes ashamed of her association with it.
Meanwhile, an underground, militant rap group called the Mau Maus, led
by Hopkins' older brother Julius, becomes increasingly angry at the
content of the show. Though they had earlier unsuccessfully auditioned
for the program's live band position, the group plans to end the show
Womack quits, fed up with the show and Manray's increasing ego. Manray
and Hopkins grow closer, despite Delacroix's attempts to sabotage
their relationship. Delacroix confronts Hopkins, and when she lashes
back at him, he fires her. She then shows him a videotaped montage she
created of racist footage culled from assorted media to shame
Delacroix into stopping production of the show, but he refuses to
watch it. After an argument with Delacroix, Manray realizes he is
being exploited and defiantly announces that he will no longer wear
blackface. He appears in front of the studio audience, who are all in
blackface, and does his dance number in his regular clothing. The
network executives immediately turn against Manray, and Dunwitty fires
The Mau Maus kidnap Manray and announce his public execution via live
webcast. The authorities work feverishly to track down the source of
the internet feed, but Manray is nevertheless assassinated while doing
his famous tap dancing. At his office, Delacroix (now in blackface
make-up himself, mourning Manray's death) fantasizes that the various
black-themed antique collectibles in his office are staring him down
and coming to life; in a rage, he destroys many of the items. The
police kill all the members of the Mau Maus except for One-Sixteenth
Blak, a white member who demands to die with the others.
Furious, Hopkins confronts Delacroix at gunpoint and demands that he
play her tape. As he does so, Hopkins reminds him of the lives that
were ruined because of his actions. During a struggle over the gun,
Delacroix is shot in the stomach. Hopkins flees while proclaiming that
it was Delacroix's own fault that he got shot. Delacroix, holding the
gun in his hands to make his wound appear self-inflicted, watches the
tape as he lies dying on the floor. The film concludes with a long
montage of racially insensitive and demeaning clips of black
Hollywood films of the first half of the 20th
century. Afterwards, Manray is shown doing his last Mantan sequence
Damon Wayans as Pierre Delacroix/Peerless Dothan
Savion Glover as Manray/"Mantan"
Jada Pinkett Smith
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"
Charli Baltimore as "Smooth Blak"
MC Serch as "One-Sixteenth Blak"
The Roots as The Alabama Porch Monkeys
Most of the film was shot on
Mini DV digital video using the
1000 camera, and later converted to film format. This kept the
budget to US$10 million, and allowed the use of multiple cameras to
capture masters, two-shots, and close-ups at the same time to save
time. The Mantan: New Millenium Minstrel Show sequences, and their
sponsor ads, were shot on Super 16 film stock.
The soundtrack album for the film was released September 26, 2000 by
Motown Records. The album consisted of hip hop and contemporary
R&B, and was India.Arie's first time on an album, with six
Bamboozled received mixed reviews; it currently holds a 48%
'rotten' rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus "
too over the top in its satire and comes across as more messy and
overwrought than biting."
Roger Ebert gave the film 2 stars out of a possible 4, writing that
the film was "perplexing," raising important issues but handling them
poorly. "The film is a satirical attack on the way TV uses and misuses
African-American images, but many viewers will leave the theater
thinking Lee has misused them himself."
The movie grossed $2,463,650 at the box office on a $10 million
Ethnic Notions - a 1986 documentary film by
Marlon Riggs about the
portrayal of blacks in advertising before the era of television
Color Adjustment - a 1992 documentary film by
Marlon Riggs about the
portrayal of blacks in television
Melvin Van Peebles' Classified X - a 1998 documentary film by Mark
Melvin Van Peebles
Melvin Van Peebles about the history of blacks in cinema.
^ a b "
Bamboozled (2000)". Box Office Mojo. 2002-08-28. Retrieved
^ Some of the films used in the sequence are The Birth of a Nation,
The Jazz Singer, Gone with the Wind, Babes in Arms, Holiday Inn, Judge
Priest, Ub Iwerks' cartoon Little Black Sambo, Walter Lantz's cartoon
Scrub Me Mama with a Boogie Beat, the
Screen Songs short Jingle Jangle
Merrie Melodies short All This and Rabbit Stew, and, from
Hal Roach comedy School's Out,
Our Gang kids Allen "Farina"
Hoskins and Matthew "Stymie" Beard.
^ a b c Lee, Spike (2001). Audio commentary for Bamboozled. New Line
^ "CNN.com - Entertainment - 'Bamboozled' offers unblinking look at
race, perceptions - October 4, 2000". Edition.cnn.com. Archived from
the original on September 22, 2013. Retrieved 2012-10-02.
^ KENNETH TURAN (2000-10-06). "Satire, Rage Add Up to Audacious
'Bamboozled' - Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. Retrieved
^ Holden, Stephen (2000-10-06). "Movie Review -
Bamboozled - FILM
REVIEW -- Trying On
Blackface in a Flirtation With Fire -
NYTimes.com". Movies.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2012-10-02.
Bamboozled at Rotten Tomatoes
^ ROBERT F. MOSS (1987-06-07). "Was Al Jolson 'Bamboozled'? - Los
Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. Retrieved 2012-10-02.
Look up bamboozle in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Bamboozled on IMDb
Bamboozled at AllMovie
Bamboozled at Box Office Mojo
Bamboozled at Rotten Tomatoes
Awards and nominations
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