Analysis of Demott’s “Put on a Happy Face”

Length: 544 words

Analysis of DeMott’s “Put on a Happy Face” Benjamin DeMott starts “Put on a Happy Face” by pointing out that the media is trying to force the friendship of blacks and whites. He specifically uses Pulp Fiction and Die Hard with a Vengeance to show how the black friend saves the main white character (DeMott 93). DeMott is obviously disturbed at the media’s attempt at glorifying this relationship that in real life is nonexistent. DeMott uses sarcasm as his main method to prove his point to the audience.

His audience is everyone because he uses media that every kind of person has seen or knows about. He uses movies, politics, newspaper articles, and songs; so everyone can know the truth about how these interracial relationships won’t work, in DeMott’s eyes. DeMott says that the movies “reflect a wish and dream” (95). The main key in DeMott’s strategy is his use of sarcasm. He uses politics in his argument like how the “good” Bill Clinton used flattery towards the black vote by making appearances in black churches and being the good samaritan (96).

DeMott purposely puts good in quotes to emphasize his sarcasm on Bill Clinton, like he

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does with many of his other quotes in his essay. The point DeMott is trying to get across is that no matter how anyone sugar coats these black and white relationships is just simply is not going to happen. In real life racial differences is not as easy as it seems in the movies. You cannot forget history and what was done, no matter how much you want it to go away.

The fact of the matter is that blacks were slaves at one point and whites are trying to force this relationship because they are guilty of what happened. You can’t simply put everyone “all in the same boat” because everyone is not in the same boat (102). You cannot force a relationship out of guilt because you feel obligated to. DeMott does not want that pity on another race and that be the reason for the relationship. That is not how true friendship works and therefore this relationship will never become a reality.

You cannot just simply rub the “magic lantern” and make everything okay (102). The way the movies were portraying these friendships between blacks and whites was like waving a magic wand and forcing things to change. For DeMott the fact of the matter is that you cannot fix something that is already broken. He uses sarcasm, political figures, movies, articles, and many more to show that this is just a far reached dream that cannot be grasped. All of these different kinds of tactics reached out to a vast amount of people.

It severely bothers Benjamin DeMott that media would outright lie to the public about something that will never happen. Racial differences are not only a barrier but also an extreme interference for friendship or any kind of relationship. There is too much guilt and embedded animosity for one another for anything to be compromised. Works Cited DeMott, Benjamin, “Put on a Happy Face: Masking the Differences Between Blacks and Whites. ” Readings for Analytical Writings. Eds. Christina Farris, et al. Third edition. New York: Bedford/ St. Martin’s, 2011. 374-384. Print.

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