The burning question on my mind as I write this post is: what is the difference between people dressing up for Harry Potter/Star Wars movies versus people doing the same for Black Panther?
It is no secret that Marvel’s Black Panther has been one of the most anticipated movies this year. There is a lot of talk surrounding the hype. On one side you have people embracing the significance of this movie for the black culture. But, we all know that there will always be a group trying to rain on our parade. The divisiveness of what Black Panther has to offer beyond entertainment goes further than it being a Black Culture vs White Oppression thing. There are also people in the black community who see a problem with black & brown people getting excited, and going “all out” for the movie.
First of all, for those in the back, Black Panther is about a Marvel Comics character which came out a few years before the Black Panther Party — in 1960s America. Black Panther was Stan Lee’s answer to the under representation of black characters in comic books. The character lives in the kingdom of Wakanda, located on the continent of Africa.
Like all comic book characters, Black Panther has enemies and, most importantly, people in his corner that genuinely wants him to achieve great things. What makes him different, from characters like the Avengers, is the fact that in addition to being a superhero Black Panther has to rule and protect an entire kingdom.
The comic embraces, and perfectly combines, both mysticism and science into the overall culture of the Wakandan kingdom.
Now that we’ve gotten the backstory out of the way, let’s discuss the public outcry concerning the film.
racist people are complaining about the “blackness” of the Black Panther movie. The hypocrisy of it all is that throughout the history of movie making there are countless instances in which movies have been whitewashed or have only been deemed watchable because of a white-savior figure being involved. Prime examples being The Lone Ranger, Exodus: Gods and Monsters, The Great Wall, Batman Begins, Wanted, Hidden Figures, and so forth. I am not even going to touch on the whole blackface era. Why is it so hard to believe that a superhero, or person, of color can can rule a kingdom, save the day and inspire others without interference from the Colonizers?
What some fail to realize, or choose to ignore, is the impact that Black Panther will have on/for POC in the long run. Not everyone aspires to be a doctor or lawyer. In fact, many actually want to work in a creative environment, whether it be directing movies, writing scripts, acting or designing costumes. Black Panther showcases the talents of such creative professionals whilst bringing cultural awareness to the various countries that make up Africa, via the fictional world of Wakanda.
It seems that unless it is a movie about gangsters or slavery, an all black cast is likely to be frowned upon. Nevertheless, Black Panther continues to dominate the Box Office and does not seem to have intentions of slowing it’s roll anytime soon.
When I began to write this post, I had not yet seen the film. However, after watching the movie twice (in 3D and then Imax) Black Panther’s hype was warranted. Representation is needed in many industries, and especially on silver screens. If the naysayers cannot fathom this then … *fades to black*