Is Black Panther Racist?
Marvel Studio’s most recent venture, Black Panther, has exploded out of the gates to critical acclaim and box office stardom. The film is currently sitting on a 97% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and an 88% approval rating on Metacritic. Black Panther has currently garnered $920 million worldwide, and became the 10th biggest US film of all time in just 18 days.
One of the biggest factors in the film’s success is inarguably its thorough representation of black and African people. Waves of black and white viewers alike have praised Marvel’s blockbuster for its shattering of Hollywood norms, as well as its brave stance in 2018’s heated socio-political climate.
Others, however, have been less than thrilled about the release of the film. There have been a number of people who have come forward to express their distaste for the ethnocentric nature of Black Panther, labelling it as racist. The Western Journal writer Angela Box insists that Black Panther is “liberal propaganda” designed to draw out white guilt.
“It’s as if somehow black power and black overlords (as long as they dominate whitey) make racial superiority palatable,” she writes.
She also admitted that she has not seen the movie, and has no intention of seeing it. Regardless, her article has accumulated 813 shares on Facebook.
Pop culture news organisation, Complex, recently posted a picture on their Instagram account of Black Panther star, Chadwick Boseman’s TIME Magazine cover. The cover read: “a hero rises”. Several social media users took this opportunity to express their opinions.
“Superheroes are not supposed to be political. This ignorance on another level,” wrote user @thomas_meixner5.
“We need a white panther #whitelivesmatters,” wrote a user who ironically used the handle @ebonicss.
User @derrivve said “all the SJW’s (social justice warriors) and “WOKE” people who have probably never seen a marvel movie before are acting like this is some sort of civil rights movement. Please calm down and stop ruining movies.”
However, alongside, and heavily outnumbering these comments, were the comments of supporters and fans who showed nothing but admiration for the film and its message.
“This is so powerful, so important! I’m hopeful for every little black boy growing up…we needed this,” wrote @iamachak.
This comment expresses an idea that is lost on a lot of white Black Panther naysayers due to privileges that they were awarded on the merit of their skin colour: the idea that representation matters, especially for younger generations.
Rolling Stone writer, Tre Johnson summed up this idea in a short paragraph.
“As a child in school…I couldn’t find the [heroes] that looked like me both outside of and underneath the mask. An entire generation of children will now know that a black superhero, society, imagination and power can exist right alongside Peter Parker, Steve Rogers and Bruce Wayne,” he wrote.
Black Panther is not the black racist’s sick dream, as much as Angela Box would like to think it is. Black Panther is the catalyst for black people (children especially) in a white world to be able to see themselves as something great.