Film & Media Studies Theory

Whitman College – FMS 387

Bamboozling Meet the Browns

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I think Stuart Hall would see Bamboozled as a way of making social commentary, since it touches on many of the topic he discusses in this article. The variety show in Bamboozled, Mantan, was first to set out to poke fun of racism. Delacroix wanted to make a show that didn’t show black people as positive characters, but caricatures of themselves. They where to wear black face, act uneducated, and adopt a traditional Southern black accent, in attempts to be overtly racist. To his displeasure, the show becomes a hit, allowing favorable coverage to an openly racist view (162). While some people behind the scenes of Mantan, thought the show to be disgusting, even Sleep n’ Eat, it seemed to be that the audience did not catch the racist actions of the show.


They were seen as “clown[s] or entertainer[s]” and it was “never quite clear whether we are laughing with or at” them (164). As shown with the audience who enjoys the show immensely, even imitating the actors by dressing in black face and their costumes. They regularly use the n-word to describe their selves, whether or not they are actually black. Delacroix’s boss believes that he is a bigger n***** than Delacroix since he has a black wife and mixed children. The language that is used conjures up images of slavery and the superiority of the white race (163). Every detail of the variety show was supposed to conjure up the images of slavery, with the technique behind the black face, to the setting, to the cartoon images of Mantan and Sleep n’ Eat.


The variety show is juxtaposed with the standup routine of Delacroix’s father. His father’s standup routine seemed to accomplish what Mantan was failing to do, bring light on the subject of race, and not perpetuate it. This seems to be the case because both teller and audience are of the same race, not people who believe they identity by dressing in black face (166). Hall argues that there is a problem with anyone telling racist jokes, even if the teller is that race. Whatever “good intention of the joke-makers… they are not in control of the circumstances… in which their jokes… will be read and heard (166).”


All in all, I think that Hall would have thought that Bamboozled is trying to show the ideology of race, but the film falls into some problems. How are we to know how every viewer sees this film? Spike Lee is not in control of making the viewer recognize the satire. If people do not see that this is poking fun of racism, then in reality it is just perpetuating it, just like comedians.


My example is Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns. It shows the predominately (if not entirely) black cast in very racial stereotypical ways. Like a single mom trying to keep her sons off the streets and selling drugs.


One thought on “Bamboozling Meet the Browns

  1. What do you think Hall would say to Tyler Perry’s claim that no one else is empowered to make all-black movies: we should appreciate that he can EVEN do that…..?

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