This film involves an ultraconservative, African-American television executive, Pierre Delacroix (Damon Wayans) and his work at Continental Network System (CNS). Attempting to distance himself from his roots, he has changed his birth name, Peerless Dothan; speaks with a neutered tone, diminishing any bass, i.e. a “scary or threatening Black man” quality; and often boasts of being a graduate of Harvard University.
He works for Thomas Dunwitty (Michael Rappaport), an offensive and crass White man. Dunwitty obnoxiously and continuously disrespects Delacroix, from claiming “he is more Black” than Delacroix to even his constant use “n*gger”, which he justifies as being able to say because his wife is Black, and their children are mulatto. To make matters worse, Dunwitty refuses to greenlight Delacroix’s script drafts because they portray African-Americans in a positive light.
Miserable in his racist and abusive working environment, Delacroix attempts to get himself fired by creating a television show that is repugnantly racist. Aided by his personal assistant, Sloane Hopkins (Jada Pinkett Smith), he creates a modern-day minstrel show, Mantan: The New Millennium Minstrel Show. The show features comedy skits, cartoons and Black actors in blackface in variety sketches and comedy. It even stars a house band, The Alabama Porch Monkeys, an all-Black collective of musicians dressed in Black-and-White, striped prison uniforms of a chain gang, with chains and balls attached.