Discussing Bamboozled

Last time, we discussed some of the ideas that came up in small-group discussions of the recent MBC Blackface Incident. (Which, by the way, if you want to watch it, it’s on a Chinese website: you can see it here, assuming the link hasn’t changed and stays the same… there’s plenty more on Youtube, too… like this.)

I asked you to get a copy of Bamboozled and watch it in preparation for class on Monday, March 26.

I strongly recommend you watch the film carefully, taking notes as you do so. (If you watched it without taking notes, watch it again. Two times is a good minimum for preparation anyway: you watch it once to get the basic story and idea, and a second time to catch things you missed, ask yourself questions, think critically, and so on.)

I have some questions for you about Bamboozled, but I would like to see you engaging with the film. Therefore, I’m only going to ask a couple of my questions:

  1. In what way do you think Bamboozled relates to blackface performances in Korean media? (In other words, why did I ask you to watch this film as part of the current unit of discussion?)
  2. Spike Lee (the director of the film) set Bamboozled in America (at the beginning of the 21st century): why do you think he wanted to tell that story at that time?
  3. To what degree do you think (from your own experiences of English-language films and movies, music and other entertainment) the “language/identity politics” we discussed last week have affected entertainment culture?
  4. Consider the idea of “justifying” or “excusing” racist behaviour, both in the film, and in responses to the MBC incident. For example, a common claim was that the MBC performance was not racist because it was not intended to be shown to (or to hurt) black people. There are similar claims or justifications made in the film. Let’s compare them…

I’ll let you know what we’re doing on Wednesday during class on Monday.

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