Gimmick? Right?No.....Have you no history?Blackface is a style of theatrical makeup that originated in the United States, used to affect the countenance of an iconic, racist American archetype — that of the darky or coon. Blackface also refers to a genre of musical and comedic theatrical presentation in which blackface makeup is worn. White blackface performers in the past used burnt cork and later greasepaint or shoe polish to blacken their skin and exaggerate their lips, often wearing woolly wigs, gloves, tailcoats, or ragged clothes to complete the transformation.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackface
television's first real view of African-Americans came from that same minstrel tradition. It was 1951 when two black actors became television's first African American stars in "The Amos and Andy Show," which actually began as a radio show -- with two white actors playing a pair of comically uneducated southern black men. "Amos and Andy" was America's highest-rated radio show and became equally popular on television - without ever altering its crudely racist content."Amos and Andy" arose out of an even earlier tradition of stereotypical entertainment that started in the 19th century: the minstrel show. The tradition began in the early 1800s on stage, with white actors using burnt corks to darken their skin - a method that became known as "black-face" - allowing them to portray African-American slaves, usually as lazy, child-like providers of comic relief. This evolved into Vaudeville-style parody shows consisting of songs, dances and comic repartee performed by white actors made up as blacks.The father of the American minstrel show was Thomas Dartmouth "Daddy" Rice, who in the 1830s drew immense popularity with a song-and-dance routine in which he impersonated an old, crippled black slave named Jim Crow. In New York City, the act of "Tambo and Bones" was one of the Manhattan stage's biggest draws. These shows introduced some of Africa's musical instruments - especially the banjo - to white audiences for the first time.After the Civil War, black entertainers themselves began to enter the tradition -- appearing in black-face makeup themselves and forming their own minstrel theatres - taking with them the caricatures and stereotypes created by the white performers. Perhaps the first major black minstrel success was Brooker and Clayton's Georgia Minstrels, who hailed themselves in their advertising as "The Only Simon Pure Negro Troupe in the World." In 1876, the black group known as Callendar's Minstrels broke the mold, and became the first African-American minstrel band to perform without black-face.Although the minstrel shows began to decline at the turn of the century, the tradition was continued in the newfangled entertainment forms of movies and radio. Early silent films continued to cast white actors in black-face as shiftless, lazy, comical characters. One of the most popular characters of the silent film era became the "Uncle Tom," a head-scratching old black man portrayed by white actors in such films as For Massa's Sake, Ten Pickaninnies and The Wooing and Wedding of A Coon . Other popular film stereotypes included the big, waddling black woman, often known as Mammy, who chased her man with a cast-iron skillets; and the chicken-stealing, shifty-eyed black hooligan, frequently named Rufus or Rastus. One of the most shocking examples of black-face in the silent era came in D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation, in which cinema's largest early audiences were subjected to vivid images of white actors in black faces raping, stealing and threatening the people of the South.