Synopsis by Mark Deming
Writer and director Spike Lee casts his satiric gaze on racism in American television and how America's racist past still impacts the present in this biting comedy. Pierre Delacroix (Damon Wayans) is an astute, Harvard-educated African-American writer working for an independent television network who is assigned to brainstorm a new show for the African-American audience. Delacroix is the only black writer on the network's staff, and the longer he works under Dunwitty (Michael Rapaport), the loudmouthed executive in charge of programming, the more he's convinced he's made a mistake. Wanting to be fired, Delacroix writes a pilot he imagines is so offensive no network would ever dare to air it: "The ManTan Minstrel Show," in which dancer Man Ray (Savion Glover) and comedian Womack (Tommy Davidson) portray two shiftless dunderheads, ManTan and Sleep 'N Eat -- who are to be played in blackface. To Delacroix's surprise, Dunwitty gives the idea the go-ahead, and to his shock, the show is soon a massive hit. Delacroix is now stuck trying to explain his show to the African-American community, who are generally not amused, especially Sloan Hopkins (Jada Pinkett Smith), his assistant on the staff, who has become involved with Man Ray. In order to give Bamboozled a look that would suit its setting in the world of network television, Spike Lee and cinematographer Ellen Kuras shot the entire film using digital video equipment.
minstrel-show, television, writer, race-relations, fame, dance [art]