Bamboozled

“Everybody wants to be black.”

By the time year 2000 rolled around, Spike Lee had made 13 feature films (if you count his 60-minute student film Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads as a feature) and had been celebrated, denigrated, disparaged, praised, and sometimes ignored. Regardless of the reactions, Lee showed himself to be a straight-up artist – always pushing to make noise with his cinematic art, whether people ended up listening or not. And then along comes his 2000 film Bamboozled, a film that examines black culture as depicted in media and art that is as much a satire on media and entertainment as it is a look at the history of African Americans in art. With this film, Lee seems to be pushing his artistic bounds, even if he seems to be moving away from telling a cinematic story that’s going to earn its money back. But it’s art, and Lee is an artist, proving once again that he’s a master of his craft. Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we continue our Spike Lee series with his 2000 film Bamboozled.

We talk about the nature of a satire like this and how well it works. We look at Lee’s perspective on these issues and society and how his influences shine in this story. We chat about the many elements within society Lee addresses in this film and how effective his storytelling is. We look at the performances, notably the biggest one of them all – Damon Wayans as Pierre Delacroix – and what they’re bringing to the table. We chat about the cameras used to film the story and what Lee was perhaps intending with the different formats. And we talk about the pain we feel in the blackface application scenes and how difficult it was emotionally for the actors to put it on.

It’s a powerful film that defines Lee as much as it emphasizes his position. We have a great time talking about it on this week’s show, so check it out then tune in. The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins.

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