October 20, 2015
The Critical Press
Ashley Clark (Jersey City, NJ)
Freelance writer and Author of Facing Blackness: Media and Minstrelsy in Spike Lee’s Bamboozled
ABOUT THE BOOK
In 2000, Spike Lee released the controversial film Bamboozled, which follows a frustrated black TV producer on his quest to create a show so offensive it will get him fired. The result is a modern-day minstrel show that, contrary to expectations, becomes a massive hit. A satire of race, media, celebrity, and American history, Bamboozled received mixed reviews at the time of its release and has been conventionally regarded as one of Lee’s lesser efforts. In this reappraisal of the film for its 15th anniversary, film critic Ashley Clark makes the case for Bamboozled as one of Lee’s most rich and enduring works, and as one of the most important satires of American culture in this young century.
- Bamboozled (2000): A prescient, satirical look at black Americans’ struggle for identity among enduring media stereotypes
- The development of black depictions in American entertainment and media
- “Post-racial” America’s blindness to racism
- Blackface and Rachel Dolezal
- Spike Lee’s racial commentary from Do The Right Thing and Malcolm X to Bamboozled and When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts
- How Spike Lee’s funding problems reveal racial issues in American entertainment
- Trading blackface for modern, negative black stereotypes: “neo-minstrelsy” in contemporary media (esp in arenas of gangsta rap, mainstream filmmaking and television programming)
- Depicting racial dynamics in the corporate workplace
- Exposing diversity excuses: how lack of diversity in the writing of TV and movies centered around black lives perpetuates the cycle of stereotyped, flat black characters in American media
BAMcinématek in Brooklyn presents Behind the Mask: Bamboozled in Focus. Curated by author Ashley Clark, the film series kicks off on Thursday, October 28 with a Q&A with Clark and Spike Lee following a 35mm screening of Bamboozled. Series runs until November 3.
For more information visit: http://www.bam.org/film/2015/behind-the-mask-bamboozled-in-focus
Ashley Clark eloquently makes the case for Spike Lee’s furious and frightening Bamboozled as one of the most important and underappreciated films of this young century. Clark reminds us why passionate criticism is so important: to get us talking about the art and sociopolitical issues that the culture at large doesn’t want to touch.
— Michael Koresky, Reverse Shot/The Criterion Collection
The value of Facing Blackness isn’t that Clark renders the film less challenging, but that he has thought through its implications in ways few, if any, have yet attempted. In so doing, he has shown that to understand Lee’s art, one has to deal with Bamboozled. It is, as Clark puts it, “the central work in Lee’s canon—the house on fire to which all roads lead.” Facing Blackness doesn’t extinguish the fire, but rather maps the roads.
— Keith Watson, Slant Magazine
According to film curator and critic Ashley Clark, Bamboozled is the quintessential “Spike Lee joint.” To celebrate the film’s 15th anniversary, [he] has written a short book in which he lays out, in excellently informative and concise detail and skillful prose, exactly why that’s the case.
— Matt Barone, TribecaFilm.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ashley Clark is a journalist and film programmer from London, based in Jersey City, USA. He has written for Sight & Sound, Film Comment, The Guardian, Cineaste, Lies, Reverse Shot, VICE, Moving Image Source, Time Out, Indiewire and The Village Voice, and has appeared as a recurring guest critic on BBC One’s Film show. He has curated film series at venues including BAMcinématek, BFI Southbank, and Clapham Picturehouse. Facing Blackness: Media and Minstrelsy in Spike Lee’s Bamboozled is his first book.