Monday, June 28, 2004

Bamboozled..."The play's the thing..."

Astounding film. I use the word FILM because Spike Lee deserves all the Oscars he can lug home and yet - where are they? A nomination for "Do the Right Thing" for Best Original Screenplay, and a nomination for Best Documentary for "4 Little girls". Golden Globes - nominations for Directing and screenplay. Yet no winners in these two prestigious venues. I can only compare Spike Lee to Woody Allen for genius in direction and writing. They are the two directors who will still be remembered far into the future as American film greats.

"Bamboozled" got such mixed reviews. I think that's because it is uncomfortable for everyone, and yet it is a story about greed, human failings, injustice and the wish of every human to be taken at his own value as an individual. I knew that the end could not be pretty, and I cried because of the death of the innocent Manray. Used and thrown out by the people who had only one idea of his personhood, and then killed by violence in the most terrifying way, starting a chain of violence ending in tragedy for all the main participants.

Unfortunately, I think the worst indictment the film makes is of the whole television thing. Television exists ONLY to sell product, and whatever that takes is seemingly O.K., and has caused the gradual eroding of what we are willing to allow into our homes. The racist, horrifying, dehumanizing picture of how the media (and Spike Lee suggests we all have internalized these concepts) and its minions are willing to use and abuse the African American Community rang true to me, and all those critics who thought it was too far out, too over the edge; perhaps they missed the art form the movie took, the "Show is the show", the poetry in film. "The play is the thing" and as in Shakespeare, so in the work of Spike Lee.

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