24 April 1999 | Zeech
The Minstrel Show revival
'Black Joy' the title should set one off, black life in London in the 1970's (according to whom?). As one of my mates said, it's the British 'birth of a nation'. Looking at the 'black experience' through the distorted eyes of a white man. This is 1977, when reggae, dub, other JA music was stepping up, by brothers for brothers, and this movie comes out of nowhere with a total different and warped perspective. Maybe the Brits were trying to copy the US Blaxploitation scene, maybe they still haven't got over their fetish/fascinationa for all things brown and black from the commonwealth, or maybe this was made in revenge for the the Black and White Minstrel Show being taken off the air a few (yes only a few) year earlier. Whatever, do see for the same reason one should see 'Birth of a Nation' in a historical and cultural context. This is how 'Great Britain' saw black commonwealth members once they came to the mother country.
What makes it so disgusting, is that the voyeurism is so blatant. I mean a film called 'Sofia' made in the 1950's dealing with race etc in Britain has its own stereotypes but at least there was a sense at social reality, of social comment...kitchen sink drama if you will. This film has nothing but British equivalents to the images you find in Bogle's Toms, Coons, Mammies, Mulattoes, and Bucks all from a country that continually brags in its BBC accent that it knows better... Final point, is to compare it to Babylon which comes in the next decade, and see how the characters are now are all Youth, as in the young black male whose too cool to conform.