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Argumentative Essay On The Minstrel Shows

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The collapse of slavery after the Civil War sent social and political shockwaves throughout America. Within four bloody years the cemented concept of slavery was suddenly destroyed, but the ideology of white superiority over blacks remained throughout the country. The minstrel shows were a direct result of this surviving ideology and it reinvigorated the discrimination towards blacks. The shows were comedic acts starring blacks that slandered their demeanor and behavior through satirization. These shows saw the most prominence in America during the mid 19th century and were performed across the nation. The minstrel shows and entertainment industry reflected the widely accepted the social differences of the time between blacks and whites and…show more content…
Their content satirized blacks and mocked the entire race to white audiences. The minstrel shows initially featured White actors with dark makeup that portrayed a distorted form of an African American. The lack of African Americans in the first minstrel shows prompted the development of black makeup and its later uses as Black Face. The image on the left is the Virginia Serenaders, which were a group of white actors that took on the guise of African American individuals. These actors were quite more famous amongst the public. The poster allows the viewer to see the transformation from a white man to an African American man, highlighting the profound effect of “black face”. Moreover, it reinforced how society viewed African Americans, since there is a major contrast between the stature of the white men and their black face characters. The white actors appear to be sophisticated and well kept while their black counterparts appear to be loud and rambunctious. Physical appearances were not the only aspects that were mocked by the shows, they also mocked the way African Americans spoke. Blacks in the shows were often staged to appear illiterate and their dialogue significantly contrasted with that of their fellow white castmates. Lines such as “I believe dis is de place…” or “I’s gwyne to tell you. ” (5), demonstrated the fact a stereotype that was perpetuated…show more content…
With the turn of the century, society and technology evolved and so did the minstrel shows. The introduction of the television gave the shows a new platform to broadcast their content to more american audiences. While not as harsh as the shows in the 19th century’s shows, the modern minstrel shows were “vestiges of their racial stereotyping and performances aesthetics persisted for decades in various performance mediums. ” (7). The show 's popularity forged a strong foundation for careers in the entertainment industry for African Americans. African Americans often could find great success in pursuing musical, or comedic careers following the minstrel shows. And as the shows finally died out, this underlying principle stayed true as the United States progressed. The minstrel shows facilitated African Americans into many forms of the entertainment as various performers. The shows play a major role in developing the comedic basis for African American entertainers even today. As referred to in the modern day , “Black Comedy” is extremely favored by the populus. Famous black comedian Dave Chappelle, once played a role as a “racial pixie”. Chappelle performed as a oddly dressed pixie on the shoulders of African Americans and sang, danced, and encouraged the individual to given into the stereotypes of society (4). Perhaps what disturbed Chappelle the most was the
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