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Minstrel show

Related: racism - race music - blaxploitation

Films: Bamboozled (2000)

Bamboozled (2000) - Spike Lee [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Bamboozled is a 2000 satirical film written and directed by Spike Lee about a modern televised minstrel show featuring black actors donning blackface makeup.

This reproduction of a 1900 minstrel show poster, originally published by the Strobridge Litho Co., shows the transformation from white to "black".
see also: 1900 - black

Minstrel shows were an American entertainment consisting of white people in blackface which lasted from the 1830s until the turn of the century. It was the first distinctly American theatrical form. In the 1830s and 1840s, it was at the core of the rise of an American music industry, and for several decades it provided the lens through which white America saw black America. On the one hand, it had strong racist aspects; on the other, it resulted in the first broad awareness by white Americans of aspects of African American folk culture.

All Coons Look Alike To Me, by the black songwriter Ernest Hogan
image sourced here.


The minstrel show, or minstrelsy, is an indigenous form of American entertainment consisting of comic skits, variety acts, dancing, and music, usually performed by white people in blackface. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minstrel_show [Apr 2005]

Coon songs

Minstrel shows in the nineties also featured coon songs, songs whose lyrics stereotyped and ridiculed African American culture. Both black and white composers wrote such songs, with one of the most popular being All Coons Look Alike To Me, by the black songwriter Ernest Hogan. In the 1890s over 600 coon songs were published (Whitcomb25). By the end of the century, minstrel shows in the North generally gave way to the quicker-paced, brasher vaudeville, the variety show which quickly became the nation's favorite form of entertainment. It was based on the olio of the minstrel show, and demanded a constant supply of new popular songs. --http://www.bgsu.edu/departments/acs/1890s/ragmusic/music.html [Apr 2005]


Blackface is a style of theatrical makeup that originated in the United States used to affect the countenance of an iconic, racist archetype, that of the "darky" or "coon". Blackface also refers to a genre of musical and comedic theatrical presentation in which blackface makeup is worn. White blackface performers in the past used burnt cork and later greasepaint or shoe polish to affect jet-black skin and exaggerated lips, often wearing woolly wigs, gloves, tails, or ragged clothes to complete the transformation. Later, black artists also performed in blackface. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackface [Mar 2006]

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