Jul 12, 2020

Bamboozled




While I do not typically tend to following the behavior of old independent filmmakers as all my favorites long ago croaked, I could not help but smirk upon passively coming across an attack against Spike Lee by old school auteur Jon Jost (All the Vermeers in New York, The Bed You Sleep In) on facebook on June 13, 2020. As an elderly lefty draft-dodger that seems to think he is still living in a different era, Jost is not exactly someone I find myself tending to agree with on even the most fundamental level yet he has proved with underrated films like Last Chants for a Slow Dance (1977)—a rather intimate and aesthetically idiosyncratic depiction of a small-time sociopathic criminal—that he is a singular and uncompromising artist and his recent rant against little Lee is fairly respectable and surprising considering the current state of the decidedly degenerated (dis)United States. Indeed, as Jost wrote, “I was never a Spike Lee fan. I met him once, long ago when I was running, for no money, a collective stand for American independent filmmakers at the Berlin Film Festival - 1979-80, I think I did it for 3 years. I tried to get Spike to join with his first short film, WE CUT HEADS. He was too busy hustling for himself to be bothered, and brushed it off. It had I think less to do with race than class – he comes from upper middle class Brooklyn and it shows. He is releasing a new film, DA FIVE BLOODS. Along with it, for Covid times, he put out a short, NEW YORK NEW YORK, which lasts as long as the Sinatra song. Shots of an emptied New York, taken from archival footage. The song, shots with dissolves and cuts. Real lazy-ass filmmaking totally leaning on the song. Bad filmmaking. Of course it has been praised as blah blah blah. Nostalgia is cheap. Sinatra is good. Spike is a ho, doing his best to prove he is a down black bro. It is an act and always has been, the well-off now very wealthy (40 mil) guy proving he's one of the gang. Spike, like Mr Zimmerman, is now a very rich man. And like Dylan he's made his wealth commenting on, describing, using the misery of America as his subject and topic. This is one of the magical aspects of America, in which it is always the wealthy who are allowed to speak for the poor.”


Admittedly, I found Jost’s sentiments, which I mostly share, humorous enough to inspire me to finally get around to re-watching Lee’s savage satire Bamboozled (2000), which was recently released on Blu-ray by the Criterion Collection for the first time on March 17, 2020. While I was not as impressed with the film as I was when I first saw it well over a decade ago at a more impressionable time in my life when I had less refined taste and now see it as somewhat of a mess of a movie that oftentimes plods and succumbs to unintentional absurdity at its somewhat pointless 135-minute running time like so many other unpleasantly grotesquely garish Spike Lee Joints, I can still safely say that it is unequivocally the proudly angry Afro-American filmmaker’s most ambitious and subversive cinematic to date and in stark contrast to his recent curiously kosher conformist crap like BlacKkKlansman (2018) where he seemed to be atoning for the virtual career-long accusation of ‘antisemitism’ that began with the ADL and various Hebraic film critics attacking the director for his unflattering but historically accurate depiction of Judaic nightclub owners in Mo' Better Blues (1990). To his credit, Lee refused to apologize for these comically sound kosher caricatures and instead opted to up the ante in terms of ostensible anti-Semitic content with his most shameless and subversive film to date, Bamboozled, thereupon predictably resulting in tons of negative reviews and accusations of antisemitism despite his propensity to get away with virtually all other forms of racial antagonism.  Following his most Scorsese-esque film to date, Summer of Sam (1999)—a film that is, rather ironically, also Lee's most anti-guido film to date—the film represents the director at the height of his most gleefully bombastic and hyperbolic race-hate powers as a film that does for both mainstream television and Hollywood in general what John Schlesinger's The Day of the Locust (1975) for Golden Age Hollywood, albeit to a more racially ravenous degree.



Undoubtedly, the selective outrage against Lee by film critics of a mostly similar persuasion becomes quite clear when one considers the predictable silence in regard to filmmaker’s fetish for goombah-bashing as is glaringly clear in films like Do the Right Thing (1989), Jungle Fever (1991), and Summer of Sam despite the filmmaker borrowing his entire style from his supposed Sicilian-American friend Martin Scorsese. Of course, if Lee’s films—or at least his best ones—were not ridden with raw race-hate and demented Der Stürmer-tier racial caricatures of virtually all races (including his own), they would hardly be worth watching and simply cheap expressions of glittery bloated budget kitsch (in fact, Lee’s fairly unknown sometimes-filmmaker brother Cinqué Lee demonstrated a greater dedication to serious art fagdom with his film Window on Your Present (2010)). While oftentimes genuinely funny (albeit sometimes unintentionally so), Bamboozled is indubitably a fiercely fucked flick that is fueled by tastefully toxic racial venom and full of a very calculated yet primitive contempt where Lee demonstrates his nauseating sense of unselfconscious narcissism by repeatedly referencing to himself and his various enemies (e.g. Quentin Tarantino), but of course such superlatively senselessly shallow self-aggrandizement is one of the things that makes Lee’s films so interesting, even if it does not exactly endear one to the filmmaker’s character (or lack thereof). An unintentional racial exploitation film supposedly satirizing Hollywood’s history of racial exploitation, Bamboozled is, in many ways, a virtual cinematic train wreck polluted with mostly corrosive racial cultural debris of both the long ago past and present and it is simply impossible to look away. Simultaneously critiquing the Anglo blackface action of early WASP maestro D.W. Griffith and Hebraic Hollywood while exploiting the most idiotic cultural trends among the modern-day black ghetto subproletariat, Lee’s never-sweetly-sardonic satire is ultimately a surreal expression of racial neurosis and nihilism where the somewhat deranged director characteristically incessantly critiques yet never offers any serious answers aside from condemning the actions of ‘uncle tom’ types like the film's unconventionally pathetic (anti)hero . In short, Lee’s pleasantly perniciously playful neo-minstrel movie reveals that the filmmaker suffers from a sort of racial psychosis which, as the film vividly demonstrates, is only natural for an innately inorganic ‘multicultural’ nation where the minority is forced to live at the behest at the majority; or so the fucked filmmaker wants you to think.



Undoubtedly, Lee’s racial psychosis becomes clear simply when one realizes that Bamboozled—a film that might have single-handedly destroyed the dubious legacy of Hebraic blackface icon Al Jolson had it been more popular—was dedicated to Jewish-American screenwriter Budd Schulberg (On the Waterfront, The Harder They Fall). While it does make sense that Lee would dedicate the film to Schulberg when one considers that the film was clearly heavily influenced by Elia Kazan’s A Face in the Crowd (1957)—an inordinately cruel satiric dramedy about the propensity for TV networks to create and celebrate loathsome grifters that the screenwriter is celebrated for penning—it does seem rather absurd when one considers that a major theme of the film is how Judaic writers, directors, producers, and actors have historically exploited blacks and negative black racial stereotypes. In fact, speaking of Hebraic writers, there is even a scene in the film where the (anti)hero played by Damon Wayans expresses his disdain for lack of black writers on his neo-minstrel TV show by contemptuously proclaiming to a Hebraic underling, “If I had my druthers, they’d be at least one negro writer in this room, and that afro does not qualify you, my Jewish friend.” Needless to say, the counter-kosher references do not stop there as one of the most despicable characters in the film is a seeming sociopathic Jewess named Myrna Goldfarb (Dina Pearlman) who postures as a good little racial freedom fighter by bragging in an obnoxiously condescending manner to the black protagonist in regard to her ancestral civil rights cred, “my parents marched in Selma, Alabama, with Dr. King” while simultaneously suggesting means to exploit exceedingly grotesque (anti)black racial stereotypes on television. In fact, the character of Myrna Goldfarb is more loathsome than anything you might find in Veit Harlan infamous NS classic Jud Süß (1940) as the villain of that film at least has his positive traits, so it should be no surprise that Lee was routinely accused of antisemitism by various film critics. Notably, Lee actually based Goldfarb on a real person, or as the filmmaker explained in Spike Lee: Interviews (2002), “There was an article in their VANITY FAIR or NEW YORK magazine about these young Jewish women publicists for the Wu-Tang Clan, and she was sort of patterned after them. That's another thing, getting back to what we were talking about before, I'm supposed to be anti-Semitic. Because BAMBOOZLED has a publicist named Myrna Goldfarb, that's another example of my anti-Semitism! That's what Amy Taubin said in the VILLAGE VOICE.”



Aside from possibly Goldfarb, the character of Thomas Dunwitty (portrayed by obnoxious Hebraic philistine Michael Rapaport)—a gleefully racist wigger TV executive that has happens to be the boss of the film’s ‘uncle tom’ protagonist Pierre Delacroix/Peerless Dothan (Damon Wayans)—is probably the most decidedly despicable as a rude and raunchy race-fetishizing fiend that literally gets off to routinely shouting “nigger” at blacks in between strategically bragging about the fact that he has a black wife and mulatto kids. Playing it safer with Dunwitty—or ‘dumb whity’ as the name less than subtly suggests—the character is more covertly kosher as demonstrated by his use of stereotypical Yiddish phrases like “Mazel tov” and unforgettably unflattering portrayal by low IQ Hebraic hothead Rapaport who is just as notorious in both acting roles and real-life for shamelessly ‘acting black’ as is probably exemplified in the singularly horrendous film Zebrahead (1992).  Dunwitty hates “white-bread” shows about black people and considers the idea that a healthy black middleclass even exists as being patently absurd and beneath contempt as the character takes an almost a demonic delight in lowbrow black dysfunction.  Fed up with the fact that Dunwitty rejects and cancels any show that he writes about intelligent bourgeois black types, Pierre Delacroix—a racially conflicted type that was born ‘Peerless Dothan’ but decided to change his name to sound more ‘white’ (it seems Lee has never heard of famous black American filmmaker Oscar Micheaux or French colonialism)—conspires to create a modern-day minstrel show that is so ruthlessly racially repugnant that he can escape his contract by being fired while, at the same time, somehow exposing the racism of the TV network.

Of course, in the tradition of Melvyn Kaminsky’s The Producers (1967), Pierre’s preposterous scheme does not exactly work out as planned and instead he unleashes a sort of culturally terrifying televised negro nightmare that ultimately destroys his entire life and confirms that many (white) Americans (still?) believe that blackface is beautiful (or something). While obviously a satire, Lee, who was partly inspired to create the film as a result of being disturbed upon seeing such cinematic classics as D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation (1915) and Victor Fleming's Gone with the Wind (1939) in film school, clearly wants the viewer to see the film as, at least in part, a horror film of the aberrant agitprop sort where whity has his face rubbed in the cultural disgrace of the blackface of his ancestors (which is made quite clear in a vintage blackface montage at the very end of the film). When lead Pierre declares to his bitch boss Dunwitty, “And as Mark Twain so fully understood, satire is the way if we are ever to live side by side in peace and harmony. So my show that I’m pitching is about promoting racial healing,” he is clearly expressing the opposite of Lee’s sentiment and intent as Bamboozled is unequivocally a ‘race hate’ film that can only inspire racial hatred, nihilism, and gaslighting. Still, I would argue that it is Lee’s unequivocal pièce de résistance and a tastefully trying testament to the racially apocalyptic essence of the decidedly (dis)United States of American.  A satire-within-a-satire (as well as a satire of satires), the film ironically (attempts to) underscore how racial satires can have the opposite effect of their artistic intent, or so the uniquely unhip and hapless protagonist Pierre learns upon exploiting the great American culture of taboo blackface with the noble objective of ruthlessly squashing negative black stereotypes and ultimately discovering to his great chagrin that America loves said stereotypes, hence the popularity of hip hop and household name status of such dubious buffoons as Snoop Dogg and Lil Wayne who certainly represent a sort of neo-minstrel phenomenon of sorts.


Notably, in his insightful yet oftentimes historically dishonest text Blackface, White Noise: Jewish Immigrants in the Hollywood Melting Pot (1996), Judaic far-left political scientist Michael Rogin—the progeny of union and pinko activist types—attempts to downplay the severity of the Yiddish role in blackface and Al Jolson’s (in)famous performance in The Jazz Singer (1927) (which of course is routinely referenced in Bamboozled). Indeed, in regard to the ‘musical miscegenation’ of Jolson and company, Rogin argues, “Like the Jewish struggle for racial justice, the black-inspired music of urban Jews was a declaration of war against the racial and ethnic hierarchy of Protestant, genteel culture.” In other words, the proto-wigger minstrel routine of Jolson, warped ‘white negro’ hipsterdom of Norman Mailer, and hokey hip hop hijinx of the Beastie Boys, among countless other examples, can be seen as at least partly informed by Hebraic hatred for mainstream white America. In Bamboozled, Hollywood executive types like Dunwitty and Myrna Goldfarb reflect the chutzpah and arrogance of this bizarre form of cultural appropriation that is expressed with a sort of gleeful contempt for the very same race of people that they are pretending to be in solidarity with. Driven by a sort of ‘psychological blackface’ sociopathy where they do not seem the least bit concerned about hurting or disrespecting the very same race of people they are ostensibly paying tribute to, these characters humorously manage to make a mockery out of both their own race and the one they are poorly attempting to pantomime.  Blinded by an almost hypnotic level of hubris, they cannot even see black people as actual people with actual feelings as if ‘being black’ is simply an identity the one can purchase at the local mall when one feels ashamed at the banality of their own race. Needless to say, with Bamboozled, Lee exposes this cruel culture-distorting phenomenon while, at the same time, fighting fire with filmic fire. In fact, this was not Lee’s first attempt at fighting back, or as Rogin complained, “No African American put on Jewface in a Hollywood film, to my knowledge, until Eddie Murphy’s Jewish barber in COMING TO AMERICA […] When Spike Lee turned the Jewish blackface tables in MO’ BETTER BLUES (1990), with barbed, comic ethnic stereotypes of two brothers in the entertainment business, Josh and Joe Flatbush, the outcry about anti-Semitism sounded in a historical vacuum.”



As one would expect from any of Lee’s better films, Bamboozled does to some extent encourage personal responsibility among colored folks by ruthlessly critiquing its more self-destructive and otherwise deleterious elements. Indeed, aside from constantly attacking lead Pierre Delacroix for being an uncle tom that sold his soul to the very same pernicious people that profit from the exploitation of his race, the film also attacks the antihero’s antithesis in the form of a militant rap collective named the Mau Maus—a group named in tribute to the Mau Mau Uprising (1952–1960) when black Kenyans successfully revolted against whites and the British Empire—that promote a moronic mix of pseudo-marxist revolution and primitive ghetto culture that promotes drug addiction, illiteracy, and all-around stupidity. Notably, the group is lead by a charming chap named Julius ‘Big Blak Afrika’ Hopkins (Mos Def) who happens to be the brother of lead Pierre’s self-described “little lamb” personal assistant/ex-lover Sloan Hopkins (Jada Pinkett Smith) in what ultimately a symbolic representation of black interfamilial conflict and the two self-destructive extremes of contemporary black identity. For example, when Julius dares to describe his sister Sloan as a “house-nigger” after she tells him he “sounds retarded” and is “embarrassing” due to his vulgar black nationalist rhetoric, she tells him to get his “field-nigger-ass” out of her home.

While ostensibly on different sides of the spectrum of black society, both characters have virtually sold their souls as Sloan is a borderline sellout that works for a TV network that denigrates her people while Julius represents a lowbrow lunatic fringe that marinates in malt liquor, senseless black-on-black murder, and pseudo-Marxist moronacy. Needless to say, it is fitting that all of these characters meet tragic ends, though Sloan arguably ‘redeems’ herself by ‘unintentionally’ killing her boss Pierre who of course must pay for being the mastermind of the popular Mantan: The New Millennium Minstrel Show where black actors in blackface make a great mockery of their race for mostly adoring white American audiences.  Hiring two haplessly desperate street performers named Manray (Savion Glover) and Womack (Tommy Davidson)—largely ignorant and pathetic characters that are desperate to get the latest ‘Timmi Hillnigger’ jeans—that he proudly rechristens ‘Mantan’ and ‘Sleep 'n Eat’ respectively, protagonist Pierre Delacroix boldly exploits and debases everyone with his new minstrel show as if he is on some sort of holy mission.  Needless to say, Pierre also thoroughly debases himself and in the end pays the ultimate price.  Indeed, in what is arguably a symbolic depiction of Mother Africa getting revenge against race traitors, Pierre is gunned down by his beloved Sloan who, as an unintended consequence of the protagonist's neo-minstrel show (which she reluctantly worked on), loses both her lover Manray and brother Julius.  In short, Bamboozled does not have a happy ending because Lee (probably rightly) believes that there is probably no happy ending to America's racial disharmony as virtually all of past human history has confirmed, hence the cathartic need for comedy of this inordinately cruel and conflicted sort. Undoubtedly, the successful but short-lived sketch comedy show Million Dollar Extreme Presents: World Peace (2016)—a so-called ‘post-irony’ TV series that was also ruthlessly attacked (and ultimately blacklisted) under the dubious charge of antisemitism—achieved something similar to Lee's film, albeit for a largely young white racially-conscious audience.  When Pierre declares at the very ending of the film, “always keep ‘em laughing,” one cannot help but think it is the only way to endure this American racial Armageddon.


While Bamboozled certainly mocks minstrel-esque rappers that profit from making a mockery out of their race by being grotesque racial caricatures of the drug-addled, crime-prone, and sub-literate sort, director Lee certainly could not foresee the rise of mainstream rappers like Tekashi 6ix9ine and Nicki Minaj as they are indubitably infinitely more exploitative and spiritually bankrupt than any of the acts featured in the Mantan: The New Millennium Minstrel Show, which at least advertises itself as a comedy. Indeed, say what you will about the blackface buffonerry depicted in a D.W. Griffith flick or a jazzy Jolson vehicle, but they seem fairly milktoast compared to the phenomenon of ‘twerking’ and gang murders that plague the sick and retarded anti-human joke that is modern hip hop (pseudo)culture. Of course, while Lee would probably attempt to argue otherwise, this killer kitsch (pseudo)culture is just as toxic to whites and other races as is to blacks (after all, the troll-like being known as Tekashi 6ix9ine is actually Latino).  Notably, one of the arguments among proponents for desegregation was that it would help to uplift blacks, but as the popularity of rap music certainly demonstrates, it had the complete opposite result as demonstrated by the countless working-class, middleclass, and even wealthy whites that have adopted the culture of the poorest blacks in which is ultimately of vicious circle of spiritual blackface debasement where everyone loses.  After all, one can only guess how many lives were ruined as a result of naive white kids embracing Eminem—a rather milk-toast moron nowadays who parrots mainstream media talks and routinely cries about Donald Trump and his shame at being melanin-deprived—during the late-1990s and mindlessly adopting the rather retarded (non)life that he so grotesquely glorified.  Arguably, the deleterious and all-around nihilistic nature of this strange distinctly American (yet constantly exported) form of cultural miscegenation is best epitomized by the short and tragic life of SoundCloud rap/Emo rap figure XXXTentacion—a rather popular figure among melancholic and effete Xanax-addled white boys from broken middelclass homes—who ostensibly promoted anti-racism in a video where he hangs a white child and who brutally beat women and robbed people before he was gunned down at the age of 20 in 2018. While it is easy to write-off somebody like XXXTentacion as a wayward wastrel that got what he deserved, his popularity is the real concern as it means that audiences are just as unwittingly doomed as the dumb asses that make the minstrel show a big hit in Bamboozled.



A ruthlessly renegade musical of rancid racial razzmatazz where virtually every single (black) characters meets a miserable end, Bamboozled is not a product of the merry Martin Luther King Jr. School of Filmmaking where a deluded manufactured dream is dispensed like a condom from a machine in some shady truckstop but closer to the ‘anti-communist communist’ film collages of Dušan Makavejev like W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism (1971) and Sweet Movie (1974) in terms of pleasantly preposterously pessimistic perspective. Of course, Lee’s film is about dreams, albeit of the doubly dark deranging sort where the intrinsic impossibility of (inter)racial harmony is sardonically exposed in the way characters of all races (but especially the black race) react to the most mindless sort of race-denigrating mainstream entertainment as they eat broadcasted shit with sadistic glee without even properly digesting it, therein finding themselves in a particularly precarious situation when it is far too late. Somewhat curiously, Warren Beatty of all people pulled a similar savagely satiric stunt with his somewhat slightly underrated flick Bulworth (1998)—a rare Hollywood film that also dares to point out Hebraic Hollywood hypocrisy—but little Lee goes all the way with a film that is the cinematic equivalent of a pitch black nuke as detonated by the crack-and-acid-addled son of Huey P. Newton. While the film might contain all the rage of Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X, it is channeled through the lunatic lens of MAD magazine marinated in malt liquor meets the peculiar plastic pathos and socio-politically revolutionary aesthetic artifice of Paul Schrader's Patty Hearst (1988).

Shot on atrocious Mini DV digital video (with faux TV commercials curiously shot on 35mm), the film is, in many ways, absurdly aesthetically atrocious, which is fitting for an aggro Afro-American anti-cinematic work that basks in the nadir of kitschy cultural debris. In that sense, the film is like a cruel culturally apocalyptic cinematic counterpoint to James Whale’s Show Boat (1936)—an inordinately romantic musical with exquisite expressionistic cinematography based on the novel of the same name by leftist Jewess Edna Ferber and penned by mischling maestro Oscar Hammerstein II that deals with themes of miscegenation (as personified by a tragic mulatta) and features famous black actors Paul Robeson and Hattie McDaniel—as a film that uncompromisingly shatters the liberal dream of ‘equality’ and does so in the manner of absurdist anti-art agitprop. Speaking of Whale—a cinematic maestro that was himself the victim of the historical curse of a marginalized identity via Bill Condon's defamatory yet somehow worthwhile fictionalized biopic Gods and Monsters (1998)—Bamboozled also tells a simple tale about the perils of creation and that there is always the danger that what you create might turn monstrous and escape your grasp as Pierre Delacroix learned the hard way.



As the various harshly negative reviews of the film and artistic stagnation of his career demonstrates, Bamboozled is the closest thing to a filmic Frankenstein monster that the Afro-auteur Lee has ever made as none of his later films would even come close to the venomous iconoclasm and subversion of his morbidly merry neo-minstrel movie. In regard to attacks from various Jewish critics, Lee once stated in an interview, “The easiest way to discredit the work of a filmmaker whose subject matter is race is to call him a racist. Simple. There is an unwritten code, especially if you're not Jewish, that if you have a Jewish character who is not positive, you're automatically considered anti-Semitic. But I'm not going to be handcuffed like that or be forced to falsify a situation. You mean to tell me that in the history of the music industry there have never been any white managers who deliberately exploited black artists? That in BAMBOOZLED, while I can have rappers going around smoking herb, drinking malt liquor, and killing people, I can't have a Jewish publicist whose character might be a little shaky?” Of course, as a good percentage of contemporary movie and TV trash ranging from White Chicks (2004)—a rare example of ‘whiteface’ of the transracial/transsexual sort—to Dear White People (2017-present) to the singularly wretched Simon Kinberg/Jordan Peele The Twilight Zone (2019-present) reboot unequivocally confirm, anti-white racism is not only perfectly acceptable but totally vogue in the totally culturally, artistically, intellectually, and spiritually bankrupt cesspool that is modern-day Hollywood, but Lee is totally right about counter-kosher sentiment, which probably explains why he opted to direct the surprisingly philo-semitic BlacKkKlansman by kosher mini-mogul Jason Blum’s innately anti-white Blumhouse Productions. In short, Lee seems to have learned some hard lesson as a result of Bamboozled about who he can and cannot attack and now he has ironically become a sort of Pierre Delacroix, albeit one that still postures as a subversive.  Needless to say, to describe the film as ‘woke’ would be an insult to its artistic and intellectual integrity as such a film would never ever be made today as it at least partly contradicts the corporate-backed sapphic sista blm narrative.



For a director that has borrowed most of what he knows from great mainstream Italian-American filmmakers like Vincente Minnelli, Frank Capra, and Martin Scorsese—members of the group Spike has had a career-long obsession with treating in a minstrel-esque fashion (including this film, which includes an obnoxious Sicilian-American character in blackface boasting about the dark skin of his fellow Sicilians)—Bamboozled seems especially bizarre as a flick that feels like Federico Fellini meets Dogme 95 as directed by an angry black kid that just read the Nation of Islam (NOI) classic The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews (1991). In short, that such a film even exists is nothing short of a movie miracle and indicative of how once cherished things like ‘free of speech’ and ‘artistic integrity’ have become somewhat of an anachronism in the past two decades or so. While I have very respect for Lee as a man and only slightly more for him as a filmmaker, Bamboozled at least reveals that he might have become a serious artist if frivolous and superficial things like posturing and guidosploitation tactics were not his main motivations. When I compare the film to his more recent celebrated antifa-approved conformist turd BlacKkKlansman, I cannot help but reminded of Pierre Delacroix's final words as he dies after taking a bullet to the gut, “As I bled to death, as my very life oozed out of me, all I could think of was something the great Negro James Baldwin had written: ‘People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become, and they pay for it, very simply, by the lives they lead.’” Indeed, one cannot deny that Jon Jost was at least partly right when he declares, “Spike is a ho, doing his best to prove he is a down black bro. It is an act and always has been, the well-off now very weathy (40 mil) guy proving he's one of the gang.”



While he also committed the liberal sin of ‘cultural appropriation’ by borrowing virtually everything he knew from Europeans while ironically making films against European colonialism, Senegalese auteur Ousmane Sembène—the undisputed ‘father of African film’ and director of such notable works as La noire de… (1966) aka Black Girl and Xala (1975)—at least was the real deal in terms of organic black revolutionary cinematic art. In terms of somewhat overlooked black American directors that do not need to exploit black racial stereotypes to make authentic black cinema that culturally empowers, Lee simply cannot compare to Charles Burnett and his classic films like Killer of Sheep (1978) and especially the mystifying folk comedy To Sleep with Anger (1990). Additionally, Carl Franklin has proved a special talent for using Hollywood genre conventions to explore black (and sometimes white) racial issues with classics like One False Move (1992) and Devil in a Blue Dress (1995). Even when it comes to goofy black filmmakers like half-kraut mulatto Michael Schultz, his films like Cooley High (1975), Car Wash (1976), The Last Dragon (1985), and Krush Groove (1985) have more ‘soul’ than most of Lee's films and do not seem like the conflicted expressions of someone suffering from a terminal case of racial ressentiment, but I digress. Undoubtedly, in terms of exploiting the worst aspects of black prole kultur, Lee probably most closely follows in the footsteps of Melvin Van Peebles of Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971) infamy. In fact, Lee even more or less copied Van Peebles’ debut feature The Story of a Three-Day Pass (1968) aka La permission with his uneven miscegenation movie Jungle Fever (1991). To Lee’s credit, he is still a much better filmmaker than Van Peebles, who seems to have never learned the basics of cinematic technique and has thoroughly debased himself with such retarded pseudo-erotic neo-minstrel shit as Vrooom Vroom Vrooom (1995).

When it comes down to it, Lee is just doing the black mainstream equivalent of Scorsese and Robert Zemeckis (who Lee has curiously routinely criticized) and cannot be seen as any sort of innovator as even the low-budget films of a forgotten ‘race film’ director like Spencer Williams, including The Blood of Jesus (1941) and Go Down, Death! (1945), are considerably more idiosyncratic when looked at through the context of cinema history.  Still, it takes a special sort of brutal bastard to direct a film like Bamboozled that was clearly meant to be an assault on the greater part of humanity and for that—and pretty much that alone—Lee deserves more artistic cred than 99.9% of Hollywood whore filmmakers, even if BlacKkKlansman is the ultimate expression of black-blackface shabbos goy whoredom and a disgraceful insult to the legacy of trash auteur Ted V. Mikels' exploitation excrement The Black Klansman (1966).  Indeed, probably the only way Lee could redeem himself at this point is by remaking the West German exploitation classic Born Black (1969) aka Der verlogene Akt—a film that, incidentally was directed by a part-Hebraic exploitation hack by the name of Rolf von Sydow who, despite his partial kosher pedigree, fought in Uncle Adolf's army—as both the film and its director represent the sort of hyperbolic racial nihilism that America's #1 most famous black filmmaker does best.  While Bamboozled is indubitably Spike Lee's most intellectually rewarding and layered film to date, somehow I think most viewers would find the cinematic experience more rewarding if they took heed of gentleman junky queer William S. Burroughs' words, “Exterminate all rational thought,” for such is the only way to accept the innately irredeemable culturally miscegenated clusterfuck that is American (pseudo)culture lest you go insane with abject disgust and disillusionment, among other things.  After all, whether Lee wants to admit it or not, Hollywood and the mainstream media has bamboozled everyone, especially America's infuriatingly voiceless and disenfranchised silent majority, hence the very real nightmare that has replaced the American Dream that exists today.



-Ty E

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