Cinema: The Shame of a Nation

In Bamboozled, Spike Lee takes furious aim at the history of racial derision in American pop culture

The blackface charade is on the air! A troupe of darkies in their field-workers' clothes and prison garb are singin' and dancin' and funnin' away, in a skewed, bitter, made-for-TV version of the old minstrel show. The feet flash, the banjos are pummeled; the energy level ascends in megavolts, moving beyond satire into irresistible entertainment. And suddenly a weird thought creases the moviegoer's skull: TV could use a comedy-variety show with a self-lacerating edge; and Mantan: The New Millennium Minstrel Show--the defiantly offensive TV parody that is at the heart of Spike Lee's Bamboozled--might just be the one. This show could...

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