Dark, biting satire of the television industry, focusing on an Ivy-League educated black writer at a major network. Frustrated that his ideas for a "Cosby Show"-esque take on the black family has been rejected by network brass, he devises an outlandish scheme: reviving the minstrel show. The hook: instead of white actors in black face, the show stars black actors in even blacker face. The show becomes an instant smash, but with the success also comes repercussions for all involved. Written by
N. Cognito <nobody@noplace>
Most of this film was shot only on digital (Mini DV) camcorders, the kind you can buy at any electronics store. While this sacrificed quality, it allowed them to shoot with 15 cameras at a time, and it also allowed Spike Lee to get all the footage he needed shot within the film's modest budget. The only scenes shot on film were the "Mantan: The New Millennium Minstrel Show" sequences, which were shot on 16mm film. See more »
Finally, the Truth has been revealed... in White and Blackface!
I approached this film with trepidation due to the mixed reviews(in particular, the flat-out negative review of Ebert at the Movies). Knowing Lee's penchant for controversy, but knowing also his unflinching honesty and passion about his position, I decided to give this film a chance.
I consider myself an educated, articulate, middle-class black-american. And I was wary of Lee's supposed satire which centers on the creation of Minstrel show for the new millenium. By the time I credits rolled, I was applauding.
In this film, Lee takes no prisoners, he neither excuses the white establishment for its entrenched and hard-to-expose racism nor does he excuse the blacks and other non-whites who become the literal agents of this process.
This story of two young black men's rise to financial and commercial glory through demeaning themselves, their talent and by example the group of people from which they hail, is an allegory. Rather than getting stuck in a discussion of this film's form, viewers should consider what it means about the world around them.
The disturbing and unnerving finale, is a suitable response to our rising awareness of inner-city violence, hip-hop culture, the prison industrial complex, and the police state in which many blacks, poor or not, find themselves a part. Instead of offering us solutions this film offers us, as in many other of Lee's films, a wake up call.
As in the body of Lee's work, the camera work gives a gritty cinema verite feel to the scenes, and the performances of Glover, Davidson, Pinkett, Wayans, and Rappaport are dead-on. The cast has a good chemistry and the dialogue will have have you howling with disbelief and laughter.
An incredibly important film, for any consumer, and by definition, any creator of popular culture who may be responsible for the perpetuation and dissemination of DAMAGING and DEGRADING stereotypes. Thank you, Mr. Lee.
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