Minstrel Show Essay

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Significance of Minstrel Shows Minstrel shows were one of the most integral parts of entertainment in the United States during the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. Audiences at that time liked blackface comedy due to segregation, and racial discrimination in the society. Due to wide varieties of caricatures, dances, and songs, minstrel shows gained popularity within a short span of time. In minstrel shows, white people masked themselves as black people, and portrayed exaggerated black stereotypes, which dehumanized black population. The racist comedy gags and dances performed by artists in minstrel shows were hilarious for white audiences back then. Blackface comedy conveyed the sense of eliteness and supremacy among white audiences…show more content…
Several popular country and jazz singers were the part of the minstrel shows. Minstrel shows was also one of the first live performed stage shows in the United States at that time. According to Michael E. Starr, “ The Minstrel show is the only form indigenous to the United States and was the most popular form of public entertainment in the nineteenth century” (Starr 72). Minstrel show was popular among audiences due to its exaggerated depictions of black stereotypes. However, minstrel shows also gained popularity around Europe due to the diversified collections of entertainment forms. The striking attraction of minstrel shows was the facial expression of the artists. Artists of minstrel shows darkened their face with cork, and left their upper chin and lips normal, which depicts the black people with thick and ugly lips. Minstrel shows artists allegedly portrayed themselves as inferior, uncivilized to make white audiences feel superior and sophisticated to black people. The expressions of the mouth and lips were conspicuously noticeable. Some of the performances of minstrel shows were classical and praiseworthy. For instance, Al jolson, one of the famous artists of minstrel shows, sung several jazz songs, and also presented various witty and engaging comedy gags. In one of his song- Mammy, he expressed his feeling towards his mother, and conveyed his willingness to go back. The song satirically showed how Africans Americans longing for Africa. This song explicitly forced black people to go back to their country, and no longer interfere in white people’s interests. Minstrel shows used the superiority theory to suppress and humiliate black population to convey white supremacy. Such features of minstrel shows made minstrel shows appealing to the white audiences at that

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