• Welcome to DOSBODS

    Please consider creating a free account to be able to access all the features of the DOSBODS community. It only takes 20 seconds!

DTMark

The Minstrels

Recommended Posts

We've been watching some of those "It was Alright in the... (insert decade here)" programmes.

I'm really puzzled by the Minstrels. White people blacked-up prancing around in "cabaret".

Completely leave aside the issues around insensitivity and lack of appropriateness. Put all of that to one side. That's not where I'm going with this.

What really mystifies me is why it passed for entertainment.

OK, some things don't endure across the decades - for example, some Dave Allen stuff remains hilarious but not all of it is even vaguely funny now. I can see why the hideously ugly Benny Hill and a group of women frolicking in a field somewhere might have brought some mirth.

But what on earth was the point of the Minstrels?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, DTMark said:

We've been watching some of those "It was Alright in the... (insert decade here)" programmes.

I'm really puzzled by the Minstrels. White people blacked-up prancing around in "cabaret".

Completely leave aside the issues around insensitivity and lack of appropriateness. Put all of that to one side. That's not where I'm going with this.

What really mystifies me is why it passed for entertainment.

OK, some things don't endure across the decades - for example, some Dave Allen stuff remains hilarious but not all of it is even vaguely funny now. I can see why the hideously ugly Benny Hill and a group of women frolicking in a field somewhere might have brought some mirth.

But what on earth was the point of the Minstrels?

Came from the US. Jim Crow.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_D._Rice

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minstrel_show

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Crow_laws#Origins_of_Jim_Crow_laws

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks. Though I must admit to remaining mystified as to what the entertainment value was.

OK, Alf Garnett had a black carer whose name escapes me, who was highly camp and whom he would send up, but then the genius of that show was to make the prejudice ridiculous even though that probably went above the heads of many watching it. Indeed I think this is one of the reasons Warren Mitchell (?) cited for ending the show.

But that The Minstrels carried on until the late 1970s seems extraordinary. Again not necessarily because of the racist nature of the thing, what I've seen isn't that, in that it isn't overtly "mocking", to achieve same, it's just some blacked-up people dancing. Eh?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 I don't recognise anything of the Wikipedia article. Just a chorus line of blokes blacked up singing songs and tap dancing on crap programmes like Summertime Special. Never liked it but didn't mind the female equivalent too much, a chorus line of high-kicking women showing us their sewn-in knickers. Oh the joy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, Panther said:

 I don't recognise anything of the Wikipedia article. Just a chorus line of blokes blacked up singing songs and tap dancing on crap programmes like Summertime Special. Never liked it but didn't mind the female equivalent too much, a chorus line of high-kicking women showing us their sewn-in knickers. Oh the joy

 

22 minutes ago, DTMark said:

Thanks. Though I must admit to remaining mystified as to what the entertainment value was.

OK, Alf Garnett had a black carer whose name escapes me, who was highly camp and whom he would send up, but then the genius of that show was to make the prejudice ridiculous even though that probably went above the heads of many watching it. Indeed I think this is one of the reasons Warren Mitchell (?) cited for ending the show.

But that The Minstrels carried on until the late 1970s seems extraordinary. Again not necessarily because of the racist nature of the thing, what I've seen isn't that, in that it isn't overtly "mocking", to achieve same, it's just some blacked-up people dancing. Eh?

 

Black men. White women. For centuries that was illegal except on stage.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
27 minutes ago, The Masked Tulip said:

Black men. White women. For centuries that was illegal except on stage.

I don't think there have ever been racial segregation laws in Britain. There may have been significant social stigma, but even there, I suspect it's rather overblown in modern perceptions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, DTMark said:

We've been watching some of those "It was Alright in the... (insert decade here)" programmes.

I'm really puzzled by the Minstrels. White people blacked-up prancing around in "cabaret".

Completely leave aside the issues around insensitivity and lack of appropriateness. Put all of that to one side. That's not where I'm going with this.

What really mystifies me is why it passed for entertainment.

OK, some things don't endure across the decades - for example, some Dave Allen stuff remains hilarious but not all of it is even vaguely funny now. I can see why the hideously ugly Benny Hill and a group of women frolicking in a field somewhere might have brought some mirth.

But what on earth was the point of the Minstrels?

Because it was entertaining.

"Light entertainment" of this sort was the mainstay of prime-time TV programming right up until the end of the 1970s and the Minstrels were hugely popular. I fear you are viewing more innocent times through the distorting mirror of Cultural Marxism. 

Here's an SJW's nightmare for you - a Brazilian song sang by black faced actors dressed in Mexican attire dancing with white women wearing Carmen Miranda hats. Talk about yer cultural appropriation!

 

Edited by Turned Out Nice Again

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
24 minutes ago, Turned Out Nice Again said:

Because it was entertaining.

"Light entertainment" of this sort was the mainstay of prime-time TV programming right up until the end of the 1970s and the Minstrels were hugely popular. I fear you are viewing more innocent times through the distorting mirror of Cultural Marxism. 

Here's an SJW's nightmare for you - a Brazilian song sang by black faced actors dressed in Mexican attire dancing with white women wearing Carmen Miranda hats. Talk about yer cultural appropriation!

 

Hmmm, it was maybe entertaining if you were 40+! Speaking as someone who was a kid during that era, I can very firmly say it was about as much fun as watching paint dry. That's nothing to do with any kind of PC-ness, this was rural North Yorkshire after all, it was to do with it being shit. Now, Jim Davidson on about his mate Chalky White, that was actually funny.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, TheBlueCat said:

Hmmm, it was maybe entertaining if you were 40+! Speaking as someone who was a kid during that era, I can very firmly say it was about as much fun as watching paint dry. That's nothing to do with any kind of PC-ness, this was rural North Yorkshire after all, it was to do with it being shit. Now, Jim Davidson on about his mate Chalky White, that was actually funny.

I still think the video I posted is entertaining (in a Eurovision ironic sort of way). Now imagine watching it on a Saturday night in media-scarce 1978, after a week at the factory, on your brand new exotic Rumbelows rented 24" colour TV.

Edited by Turned Out Nice Again

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, Turned Out Nice Again said:

I still think the video I posted is entertaining (in a Eurovision ironic sort of way). Now imagine watching it on a Saturday night in media-scarce 1978, after a week at the factory, on your brand new exotic Rumbelows rented 24" colour TV.

We only had a black and white telly (with vacuum tubes and everything) so I would have no idea! But yes, there's a certain truth to it being all there was so that's what you watched. Even my dad, who didn't seem to mind that genre (Minstrels, Good Old Days, Come Dancing etc) was clear it was only on because Morecambe and Wise came next. Post-modern irony didn't exist in the 70s either, well maybe in the big city but not in the farming backwater I came from.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Turned Out Nice Again said:

Because it was entertaining.

"Light entertainment" of this sort was the mainstay of prime-time TV programming right up until the end of the 1970s and the Minstrels were hugely popular. I fear you are viewing more innocent times through the distorting mirror of Cultural Marxism. 

Here's an SJW's nightmare for you - a Brazilian song sang by black faced actors dressed in Mexican attire dancing with white women wearing Carmen Miranda hats. Talk about yer cultural appropriation!

 

No. It was shit.

Im not above at laughinh at disabled kid jokes but Minstrels was shit.

Put in it cntext too. Minstrels peaked i nthe 70s whilst a lot of African countries were seprating from colonel powers.

Then black people in world were noble democrats trying to create new countries; 'black' people on the telly were sort of slapstick/laughable.

These days the black people on telly are noble and upstanding. The black people governing in Africa are now slapstick comedy routines.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought it was dire at the time and I like a lot of older stuff like The Good Old Days (though that is patchy).

It was on a par with Seaside Special to me or, to take something contemporary, The One Show.

All so dreadful that I would leave the room if it was on.

I didn't realise that it ran to the late 70s; it was just rubbish.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, The Masked Tulip said:

 

He appeared on it as the first black person to do so. Years later he said that he was contractually obliged to appear - well, don't sign the contract then Lenny.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Black_and_White_Minstrel_Show

Or do a Lesley Judd and just ignore your contract; which is why she was never given more than a one year contract on Blue Peter when the other presenters had much longer ones.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesley_Judd

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, DTMark said:

We've been watching some of those "It was Alright in the... (insert decade here)" programmes.

I'm really puzzled by the Minstrels. White people blacked-up prancing around in "cabaret".

Completely leave aside the issues around insensitivity and lack of appropriateness. Put all of that to one side. That's not where I'm going with this.

What really mystifies me is why it passed for entertainment.

OK, some things don't endure across the decades - for example, some Dave Allen stuff remains hilarious but not all of it is even vaguely funny now. I can see why the hideously ugly Benny Hill and a group of women frolicking in a field somewhere might have brought some mirth.

But what on earth was the point of the Minstrels?

I am old enough to have seen the Black and White Minstrels live at the Palladium as a child. To be honest as a kid I never really made the connection with black people though I seem to remember the costumes and sets were impressive. Most of the songs and routines had nothing to do with the US  South. Indeed some rather incongruously were old cockney musical hall numbers. Only the men blacked up while all the women were white which itself seems a bit of unusual message to be contained in a show that was supposed to racist. The very suggestion of miscegenation might be considered subversive.  The whole thing really was too surreal to be taken seriously which I am afraid is what too many people do today. What people tend to forget today is how drab the UK was in the 1950s and even early 1960s. Everything was black and white including the telly. Anything that offered any type of variety was considered entertainment.

Ironically until colour telly arrived the Minstrels actually wore red make up because black did not work well with the monochrome TV cameras

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Black_and_White_Minstrel_Show

As for Benny Hill he was originally a genuinely innovative TV comedian in the 1960s who just retreated into cliché later in his career.  I am afraid that is the fate of many performers not just ones in the past.

http://www.screenonline.org.uk/people/id/473323/

Edited by Flirtygirty

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
25 minutes ago, Flirtygirty said:

I am old enough to have seen the Black and White Minstrels live at the Palladium as a child. To be honest as a kid I never really made the connection with black people though I seem to remember the costumes and sets were impressive. Most of the songs and routines had nothing to do with the US  South. Indeed some rather incongruously were old cockney musical hall numbers. Only the men blacked up while all the women were white which itself seems a bit of unusual message to be contained in a show that was supposed to be racist. The whole thing really was too surreal to be taken seriously which I am afraid is what too many people do today. What people tend to forget today is how drab the UK was in the 1950s and even early 1960s. Anything that offered any type of variety was considered entertainment.

As for Benny Hill he was originally a genuinely innovative TV comedian in the 1960s who just retreated into cliché later in his career.  I am afraid that is the fate of many performers not just ones in the past.

Thank God! Somebody else gets it. I particularly liked the Pythonesque incongrueties. Here they are doing Gilbert & Sullivan, Dixie style:

and who could forget? the Good Ol' Boy Tex-Mex cowboy minstrels:

 

Edited by Turned Out Nice Again

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
46 minutes ago, Turned Out Nice Again said:

Thank God! Somebody else gets it. I particularly liked the Pythonesque incongrueties. Here they are doing Gilbert & Sullivan, Dixie style:

 

 

Quite.

The Black and White Minstrels main crime was not that they pandered to racist stereotypes but that they murdered so many genres of popular music from British light opera to the great American song book.

Edited by Flirtygirty

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.