O

 

Offense: A cardinal term orienting the expectations of a potential audience.   By the 1880’s minstrelsy was in such ill repute that most backface performers had adopted a complex rating system in their advertising materials. That coding began with the bold assertion that the entertainment would offer no offense.  Repeated uses of the adjectives "refined, chaste, legitimate, pleasing" or "fashionable" to characterize the performances assured upright men and women that the social norms outside the minstrel hall were purported to be present inside.  Clearly there was some truth to this claim by the theatre managers and entertainers alike:  a white audience could be certain, for instance, that where blacks were permitted in the auditoriums or halls, they would be segregated, seated at a greater remove from the performers.