Delacroix as americana

Bamboozled Screenshot

This scene takes place as Delacroix’s show is growing to new heights in terms of popularity. He’s gotten off the phone with his mother, who’s scolded him, stating that “a coon is a coon” despite whatever success they might find. In the scene (at about 1:43:55), he begins to load coins into his americana bank, using a lever that forces the coin into the bank’s mouth and makes the figure’s eyes roll back into its head. This simple action parallels the media industry that Delacroix is a part of. The performers on Dela’s show mirror the likeness of the “jolly nigger bank”, and the motion of the bank forcing a coin down its own mouth at Dela’s command mirrors the complicated relationship between minstrel performer and a white overseer (Dunwitty). Delacroix and his performers are gaining fame and reputation through his show. However, they are forced to degrade themselves in order to accomplish this. This is why although the coins are pushed by their own hands, somebody else is controlling the lever.

The sound design during this scene is also significant; behind the repetitive clinking sound of the coins falling into the bank, there is a dull ticking sound that is the sound of another americana doll bobbing its head back and forth. It begins during the phone call scene and continues even after the doll is out the shot. As Dela feeds the bank, the ticking speeds up, and the camera cuts to the various pieces of americana around his office. This builds tension: even after Dela stops feeding the bank, the ticking continues to quicken until finally, the bank feeds itself. If we continue the comparison between the bank and Dela’s minstrel show, we see that what Delacroix has started is now out of his hands. Mantan: The New Millennium Minstrel Show no longer needs somebody to push its lever, because it has become a sensation. The satire is no longer under Dela’s control. This scene conveys this idea through sound design: the ticking sound is the metronome to which this transition occurs. Furthermore, during the phone scene, we see parallels between the ticking doll and Dela himself. They are both bald, and the doll continuously shifts his eyes back and forth from staring at Delacroix, who even asks it who it’s smiling at.

Finally, to consider color and clothing, both the bank and Delacroix mother are wearing red, suggesting that the minstrel show not only degrades members of the industry, but people outside that sphere as well. The scene cuts to a closeup of a minstrel performer a few seconds after we get a closeup of the bank, cementing the parallel between the two entities; they’re both in blackface, wearing similar costumes.


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