The minstrel show is alive and well. In case you were in any doubt that Williamsburg is chock full of unbelievable wankers, Jeremy Parker brings us Kill Whitie, a hip hop dance party by whitie, for whitie... to mock non-whitie (possibly NSFW). I mean, how is this really all that different from, say, this?
In the pantheon of American popular music, Pennsylvanian Stephen Collins Foster (1826-1864) is a muse to all followers. He penned: "Oh, Susanna"; "My Old Kentucky Home"; "Old Folks at Home" ('Way Down Upon the Swanee River') and "Camptown Races" among a legacy of over 200 songs. Foster contributed greatly to the rise in popularity of the minstrel shows, displaying a humanitarian attitude towards blacks in his 'plantation songs', despite only visiting the south once briefly on his honeymoon. Copyright being what it was in those days, he made not much more than $9000 in his lifetime from publishing royalties. He died a pauper in New York following a head injury and was found with just 38c and a scrap of paper in his pocket book that read: "Dear friends and gentle hearts". His sketch book of songs was recently digitized and is hosted by the University of Pittsburgh. via
Blackface : From mainstream entertainment to (nearly?) being considered a hate crime. Do we still have 21st century minstrel shows? Can one "plainly see similarities between the insulting stereotypes acted out by blackface minstrels like Al Jolson in the 19th and early 20th century and today's actors who play exaggerated, cutesy roles of gay people in the 21st century" ? Here is a larger question: Is humor and ridicule a necessary first step down the path to eventual acceptance? Is that what Spike Lee is saying in Bamboozled or is he saying we haven't progressed as far as we think?