Bamboozle This


Out along the cultural periphery, the Houston Press has found a tentative revival of blackface minstrelsy.

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  1. “‘It seems to me that to perform minstrelsy now necessarily is going to perpetuate stereotypes that are coarse, crude and offensive to many people,’ he says. ‘Minstrelsy is extinct and it’s rightfully extinct, and to give representation to the stereotypes — frankly, I find it immoral and appalling.'”

    That’s right. If this sort of thing continues, soon we’ll have so-called “musicians” performing songs which use the n-word and perpetuate stereotypes about black people being violent and sexually irresponsible. And white people will pay to listen to it.

  2. how is this any worse than any video you might see on BET?

  3. I can’t help but think there are only so many reasons for a band of all white guys to decide to put on black face, but what do I know. I’m a poor judge of what would be deemed offensive by the black community.

  4. The only difference between Eminem’s shitck and Emmett Miller’s is that Eminem ain’t puttin’ shoe polish on his face. White performers have been co-opting black shtick for the white audience for the last hundred-plus years. And THAT’S what minstrelsy really is; equating minstrelsy with blackface and nothing more is ignorant of history.

  5. Well I’m all over the map on this one. A nice lunch break.

    First, historical recreators can be particularly anal about authenticity. Playing loose with the details is fine in the SCA, but can get you drummed out of your Civil War or Continental Army regiment. The desire for authenticity when you’re a living history nut is extreme.

    Genre items:
    Philadelphia’s mummers: play minstrel music, but the costuming is far beyond blackface. It may have started with blackface performances, but I think it started out as more of a gender cross-dressing event than a racial cross-dressing event.

    Jug Band music:
    Jug music is probably a descendent of mistrel music, but it was, as they say in ska, second wave. Jug music peaked with the advent of recordable music in the 20’s. However most 20’s performing groups were black: the best of the bunch being Cannon’s Jug Stompers and the Memphis Jug Band.

    White people adopted the form during the 60’s folk revival. The Grateful Dead began their careers as “Mother McRhea’s Uptown Jug Champions” and John Sebastian of the Lovin’ Spoonful raided jug recordings for his sound.

    Then, in the late 90’s, I personally was a part of the Prudence Risley Travelling Moonshine Orchestra, dedicated to living the jug and homebrewing beer in Ithaca NY. But we were a bunch of white college kids, and had no interest in the blackface or the n-word, and chose suitable scan-replacements. But we did sing “The Cocaine Habit Blues” (from Memphis Jug Band, 1930) verbatim. Chorus: “The cocaine habit is mighty bad/it’s the worst old habit I’ve ever had/hey, hey, honey take a whiff on me”

    I also wanted to say that it’s pretty interesting that America’s first wiggers could have been voting as Whiggers, which is fubar; modern day wiggers merely wear Fubu.

  6. thank goodness cultural exchange never travels in anything other than one direction! it’s always good to know who stole what from whom.

    so…how much credit does roger linn and akai get for inventing hip hop?

  7. that’s for anon, btw, not keith.

    what’s it like playing in a jug band?

  8. What’s the name of that movie where Steve Buscemi plays a blues lover who is taken to a blues bar where a band full of white twenty-somethings sings about how they are troubled by lynchings?

  9. Sounds like Ghost World, but I guess I missed that part.

  10. There were 6-10 of us most times. I was a jug player; the guy before me had taken a 2.5 gal Fisher Scientific methanol brown glass jug; pasted the word “Bourbon” over Methanol, and that was the jug. It was very popular with the crowd to have a Fisher Scientific jug in the environs around Cornell University. Our typical lineup was jug, one or two guitars (occasionally a tenor banjo was swapped in), washtub bass, washboard, harmonicas, and the miscellaneous section: spoons, kazoos and combs, shakers, a mouth zither, whistles and a nose flute. By the end, we had a singing saw and the washboarder put a kit Theremin into the chassis of an old toy piano. Occasionally, one friend joined us with his mandolin. I learned how to homebrew from watching and participating with the washtub bassist and the first juggist, though I never did a full batch on my own until we scattered to other cities.

    We played “free beverages” gigs at the ABC Cafe and Collegetown Bagels; a paying gig at one fraternity, and an Ithaca College party for IC’s football-rivalry trophy, the Cortland Jug. Very unfortunately, it looks like our webpage with pictures and lyrics has disappeared into the ether.

    Man, now I’m an office worker. Bah, humbug.

  11. I forgot, we did one novelty piece, “Libertarian blues in E” where after a bit of ridiculous college age patter, I read off the very wordy paragraph off the back of my Libertarian party card from my wallet, while the guitarists and washtub laid down a chord structure, until I ran out of breath.

    Utterly ridiculous!

  12. Savion Glover ROCKS! Blackface or just a black face, doesn’t matter in the least, caus I got my eyes glued to the mans hoof’n feet.

  13. EMAIL:

    DATE: 12/10/2003 08:30:17
    Morality by consensus is frequently morality by convenience.

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