Bamboozled: Black People and White Man

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The Power Of The Image

In 2000, Spike Lee wrote and directed the film Bamboozled. When discussing his satirical film, Spike Lee claimed, "I want people to think about the power of images, not just in terms of race, but how imagery is used and what sort of social impact it has - how it influences how we talk, how we think, how we view one another[. . . ]how film and television have historically[. . .]produced and perpetuated distorted images." Spike Lee certainly conveyed this message in Bamboozled. Images are powerful and carry massive social impact. They should never be misrepresented.

Are all African Americans either lazy or dim-witted or "happy servants", always ready and willing to please the White Man? The short answer is, no. However, throughout the 1800s and early 1900s, many people believed this. The ultimate question is, why? As explained in the film Ethnic Notions, this false perception grew and grew, even past the time of slavery, due to images. Derogatory images of African Americans as "happy servants" or "savages," were everywhere; they were published in children's books and slapped on cans of food to be used as a marketing tool. People bought into this perception of African Americans, as they became acclimatized to it.

Today, our society likes to believe that times have changed and there is no longer an issue of race or false perception of African Americans in the media. However, Spike Lee argues, "A new "phenomenon" has emerged in film in recent years, in which an African-American character is imbued with special powers, filmmaker Spike Lee told a student audience … This new image is just a reincarnation of "the same old" stereotype or caricature of African Americans … Lee cited four recent films in which there is a "magical, mystical Negro" character … in "The Legend of Bagger Vance," a black man "with all these powers," teaches a young white male … how to golf like a champion … "How is it that black people have these...
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