Film & Media Studies Theory

Whitman College – FMS 387

Satire of a satire of racism

1 Comment

I think Hall would have found Bamboozled interesting in the portrayal of racist aspects of the media but also critiqued the movie for being racist itself.  Bamboozled is an interesting blend of the overt and inferential racism that Hall talks about.  The movie is a very obvious critique of racism in the media.  The fact that the actors were forced to wear blackface is “advancing a racist policy or view” (Hall 162).  The white film studio head claims that he is not racist because he “married a black woman” and has photos of famous black people all around his office.  But the studio head is completely racist and his laughing at the overt racism gives not only him, but also the movie an underlying theme and tone of racism.  The overt racism is blended with elements of inferential racism as Meg already point to in her post.

One huge aspect Bamboozled takes advantage of is the comedy.  The movie is a satire of a television show that is a satire on racism.  As we saw in the movie, the audience was sucked in by the comedy.  At first the show was shocking and people did not know how to respond but once people found and “recognized” it as humorous, “the comic register in which they are set…protects and defends viewers from the acknowledging their incipient racism” (Hall 166).  However we, as the viewer of the movie, are also complicit in the insipid racism when we laugh.  Most of the time I was shocked by what I was watching and did not enjoy it, but other times I found myself chuckling every once in a while.  My (and hopefully other’s) amusement, as interpreted by Hall is the defense of racism.

However I think the biggest critique Hall would have about Bamboozled is the fact that the movie is trying to be a social commentary on racism in the media.  The montage at the end of the movie shows the audience how racist the media (especially cartoons!!) really is.  As Hall describes, “The whole of ‘social problem’ television about race and immigration – often made, no doubt, by well intentioned and liberal minded broadcasters – is precisely predicated on racist premises” (Hall 162).  Even the best-intentioned show is going to be racist.  In the case of Bamboozled, Spike Lee’s satirical look at racism invoked a sense of racism in and of itself.

 

 

This is one of the sketches from the Key and Peele Show.  Similar to the Chappel Show, the comedians use their race to make fun of race stereotypes but simply reenforce them.

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One thought on “Satire of a satire of racism

  1. So here’s a crucial question for us to consider today: is it possible for ANY type of race-based humor to NOT be racist?

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