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Afro American Identity In Spike Lees Bamboozled Film Studies Essay

You ‘ve been hoodwinked. You ‘ve been had. You ‘ve been took. You ‘ve been led astray, run amuck. You ‘ve been bamboozled. ( Malcolm X )

The arguments over race and representation of African Americans in movies have been extremely combative for over a century. The general negative labels attached to Afro Americans are connected both to history and to the creative activity and prolongation of stereotypes in images and movies. Cliches about black Americans have easy imposed themselves significantly on the popular imaginativeness, with the aid of negative images exploited in movies. Blacks have been stigmatized and perceived, throughout history, as problem shapers, violent incapables, intellectually limited, inferior, lazy and irrational, amongst the many other negative labels attached to them. Although the fact that we now live in a clip in history where Americans have voted for a black President, although inkinesss now occupy places of power and are apparently less capable to institutional power than in the yesteryear, the black community however remains inadequately hapless, unemployed, undereducated and by and large stigmatized in negative footings. Therefore, harmonizing to Wijdan Ali, the projection of harmful or negative stereotypes “ onto fringy or ineffective groups within a society has ever been an easy and utile method for doing whipping boies, ” and movies are an effectual agencies to circularise and continue the labels which the mainstream audience desires to attach to inkinesss as a community. Five decennaries of the Civil Rights motion have gone by, and the grade of alteration in the black community, as illustrated in most of Spike Lee ‘s directed movies, though existent and noticeable, besides remains complex and unequal.

In this regard, Spike Lee ‘s ‘Bamboozled ‘ ( 2000 ) can be categorized as a satirical onslaught on the manner in which African Americans have historically been misused and misrepresented in movies. Through Bamboozled, Spike Lee attempts both to entertain and to educate his audience about the history of African American representation within popular civilization, with the word ‘bamboozled ‘ itself bespeaking the province of holding been cheated or conned. Bamboozled ( 2000 ) phases American mass amusement ‘s history of favoritism with mortifying folk singer stereotypes which foremost started to be performed in musical theaters and which were subsequently brought to movie in 1915 by Griffith ‘s controversial ‘The Birth of a Nation ‘ . Consequently, the intent of this survey is to analyse both the African American development in the American movie industry and the societal building of black individuality depending chiefly on the African Americans ‘ cinematic representation so as to understand why the African Americans ‘ integrating is considered as a controversial issue even in a modern epoch where racism seems to be a thing of the yesteryear, and where people are purportedly no longer ‘judged by the colour of their tegument but by the content of their character. ‘ This paper will besides research the consequence of stereotypes on Afro American individuality utilizing Spike Lee ‘s movie, and will analyse the impact of such a movie at the deconstruction of stereotypes and its ability to renegociate black individuality. But before acquiring to what ‘Bamboozled ‘ brings to the tabular array of African American movies, it is of import to look at the history and development of black representation in Hollywood film, which the followers paragraphs are traveling to cover with.

African Americans and American Movies: A Brief Retrospective

African Americans have started to be represented in folk singer shows in the 1830s and subsequently on telecasting in the early twentieth century. Through folk singer shows, where the histrions applied blackface make-up and overdone ruddy lips, white America ‘s constructs of Black entertainers were shaped by these mocking imitations, and for over hundred a old ages the belief that inkinesss were racially and socially inferior to Whites was ingrained by hosts of both white and black performing artists in minstrelsy. The imitations took such a house clasp on the American imaginativeness that audiences ‘naturally ‘ came to anticipate any individual with dark tegument, irrespective of their background, to conform to one or more of the undermentioned stereotypes ; Jim Crow, Zip Coon, Mammy, Uncle Tom, Buck, Wench/ Jezebel, Mulatto and Pickaninny.

As clip moved on, black visual aspect on telecasting became more and more frequent, every bit good as the addition in the figure of independent black managers and movies. However, we can non afford to merely ‘celebrate ‘ the accomplishments of black film makers for the alleged cultural humanistic disciplines. And as Stuart Hall comments, “ we have come out of the age of artlessness ” , which says that ‘it ‘s good if it ‘s at that place. ” The mere fact that such movies have had a considerable addition does non intend that the black ego is undergoing a positive alteration although it may be true that the degree of distinct racism has known an of import lessening, or even a disappearing. Bamboozled does precisely this, by looking at the deliberate negative and mortifying portraiture of inkinesss on telecasting throughout history aimed to entertain the white audience and by its portraiture of different signifiers of modern minstrelsy.