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Bamboozling Culture

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  1. Introduction
  2. The commodification of black culture
  3. The first African Americans to perform on the minstrel stage
  4. Taking 'In Living Color' into account
  5. Conclusion
  6. Sources

Popular culture is defined as the cultural elements that prevail in any given society, and stems from the daily interactions, needs, desires, and cultural 'moments' that make up the everyday lives of the mainstream . This definition is only one side of the coin however, since it fails to trace the roots of these cultural elements, desires, and needs. One possible explanation hypothesizes that popular culture is merely a product put forth by an industry which claims to serve the consumers' needs for entertainment, but conceals the ways in which it standardizes those needs. The term culture industry, coined by Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, argued that popular culture is like a factory producing standardized cultural goods to manipulate the masses into passivity . This theory would explain the apparent shift from the prevailing ?high culture' in the 18th and early 19th centuries, which adopted the European model of the Renaissance man as ideal, to the 20th century's ?turn towards the ?low' for inspiration?-Lhamon

key words- William Henry, black culture, capitalism and Commodification

[...] According to the culture industry theory, however, these changes are not as revolutionary as they may seem, but are rather just a progression of the prevalent ideology. Spike Lee's ?Bamboozled? wrestles with the subject of what it means to be a black entertainer in a white society, whose notion of what is black, differs profoundly from those black artists. Pierre Delacroix, a television writer who, when challenged to come up with "real" black entertainment, decides to satire the entire endeavor by creating a "minstrel show for the new millennium." To his amazement and dismay, the pilot episode is not only enthusiastically developed, but becomes a smashing hit, with fans donning blackface in imitation of its stars. [...]

[...] As shown in Dancing in September however, the line between staying true to one's art and selling out is often blurred and played down by the culture industry. Tommy is a talented, opinionated, and defiant writer who dreams of changing the coonish-type scripts with more meaningful dialogue for Black actors. Tommy pitches ?Just Us', a sitcom about a Black female judge and her husband adopting a troubled Black child. The network, delegated by George-a rising black TV exec, picks up the show so long as Tommy agrees to ?minor changes' in order to make the show funnier and thus more marketable. [...]

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