Film: Bamboozled

Bamboozled (2000) is a satirical film directed by Spike Lee.

Pierre Delacroix (Damon Wayans) is a Harvard-educated African American man, working for a television network known as CNS ("Continental Network System"), who's feeling a bit pissed. His boss, Thomas Dunwitty (Michael Rapaport), is a whigger who insists he is more black than Delacroix is, and who dismisses all the intelligent shows about African-Americans that Delacroix proposes as knockoffs of The Cosby Show. Delacroix believes that all Dunwitty wants are shows portraying African-Americans as buffoons.

Frankly, Delacroix would just like to leave, but he's contractually bound to the network. In order to get himself fired, and to satirize the network's desire for buffoonish black people, Delacroix concocts a brilliant plan: He comes up with a televised minstrel show called Mantan: The New Millennium Minstrel Show, in which two black street performers portray goofballs named "Mantan" and "Sleep 'N Eat" on a watermelon plantation in blackface makeup. Dunwitty, sure enough, greenlights the show.

To Delacroix's horror, the show is a huge success!

This film provides examples of:

  • An Aesop: Racial caricatures in entertainment are bad, m'kay? Particularly when enacted by members of one's own race.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Perhaps unintentional, but the whole premise mirrors The Black and White Minstrel Show, which ran to high ratings from 1958 to 1978 on BBC television. It had high production values, excellent writing and performances, and was both popular and hugely entertaining. Nonetheless, it died of Values Dissonance in the late 70's.
  • Angry Black Man: Every member of the Mau-Maus. Yes, including the white guy.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname:
    • "Pierre Delacroix"'s real name is Peerless Dunphy.
    • Sloan's brother (and Mau-Mau's member) Big Blak Afrika, played by Mos Def. Lampshaded:
      Sloan: I hope you don't think I'm going to call you "Big Blak Afrika."
  • Bad Boss: Thomas C. Dunwitty, the tyrannical vice president of the Continental Network System, or CNS.
  • Black Guy Dies First: Taken to extreme. Every black member of the Mau-Maus is shot dead by the police, except the white guy, who protests loudly about it.
  • Bullet Dancing: After he refuses to do his routine, the gangsta rapper Mau-Maus force Manray (the guy who plays Mantan) to tapdance at gunpoint one last time before shooting him.
  • Can't Get In Trouble For Nuthin': The whole point of the racist show, was for Delacroix's to offend people and get fired from his job, which he hated.
  • Cringe Comedy: The "Mantan" sketches are meant to be this. Spike Lee claimed he wanted the show to be unironically funny to make the stereotypes and blackface all the more uncomfortable.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Delacroix assumes the idea for the show will get him fired, but his boss greenlights it. He then banks on it being a controversial flop, but it becomes wildly successful.
  • Haunted Technology: At the end of the movie, Delacroix's Jolly Nigger Bank spontaneously starts operating, repeatedly, with increasing frequency.
  • I Know Your True Name: Sloan invokes it to try and bring "Pierre" back down to earth.