Friday, 27 April 2012

The Black and White Minstrel Show

What was wrong with The Black and White Minstrels Show on BBC TV continuously in the 1970s in which the singers blacked up (they did not look like black men but oddly stylised)? Well, for one thing, they were hideously boring and mainstream and utterly middle-aged - even I who hated pop music also hated them. They seemed then in that innocent age to be the zeitgeist and I accordingly hated them. They also took every song they sang and turned it into lift music. But my parents, my grandmother and all my great-aunts absolutely loved the programme.

But why were the minstrels offensive? As a matter of fact, they were not - no-one was offended. Should they have been offended? Why should anyone be offended by white men blacking up as black men? 

One of the many mysteries of modern life. No one understands but no one likes to ask questions.


  1. A few seconds typing "minstrel show" in google would answer your question..."Minstrel shows lampooned black people as dim-witted, lazy & buffoonish".
    I expect you're one of those people who cannot understand why golliwogs are offensive either.

    It's not that you don't know the answers to these "mysteries", it's that you are satisfied with the conclusion you & others ( in your ignorance ) have reached...that no one is offended by "white men blacking up" or "dolls with black faces". As if that was all there is to it. Clearly if there is controversy, there is a reason for it.

    The tradition of the American minstrel show was inherently racist since it portrayed "negroes" in a poor light. The golliwog is a character created by an American authoress based on a minstrel doll.

    So there is no "mystery". The facts are freely available for people to discover. You have the argument upside down..."no one understands but no one likes to ask questions" suggests that the opinion that the Black And White Minstrel Show IS offensive is erroneous, something cooked up by Lefties. In fact, no one asks questions because they are content with living in ignorance.

  2. There was nothing in the least demeaning or offensive about the programme nor did it portray negroes in a poor light - in fact it did not really portray them at all - as I said it was very stylised. It has always been unbelievable to me that this which was so normal and terribly boring in the 70s became considered shocking. I wonder why white actors are no longer allowed to black up to play Othello. Yes I love golliwogs and am delighted that I see them for sale in famous shops in the West End of London.