This weekend I had the opportunity to head to the movie theater. I love movies, and I haven’t been to as many as I’d prefer lately. Black Panther is a film that I wanted to make sure to support in theaters. I knew little about it other than it being a Marvel movie with a black director and an, almost exclusively, black cast. Not completely the first of its kind, but it is breaking all sorts of records– and for amazing reasons. Throughout the movie, I kept wanting stand up and scream, “YAAAS.” In my lowly, white girl opinion, they got SO much right, and the fact that so many people will be seeing this film gives me more hope in humanity.
Because I was only prepared for a black super hero movie, (I know, I know, there have been many unofficial films of this kind, and I’m ignorant for saying that) I wasn’t prepared for the emphasis on the African continent and the depth of the narrative that honored it.
Black Panther is not, only, a superhero movie. I do believe that it is the only major film, in my recent memory, that tells a real, and honest story of Africa. It is one of diversity, and so much beauty. From the production design, to the liturgies, to the fighting styles, to the music, so many parts of the continent are represented. There were absolutely no white saviors. The film was fully inhabited and driven by unique, multi-faceted black human beings. It. Was. Awesome.
Though kind of subliminal, the movie distinctively combats the stereotypes of savagery, laziness, and weakness that is too often associated with people of African descent. Ps. please don’t join in on the pity party of white people saying they’re being targeted at movie theaters. Don’t get me started on how messed up that complaint is, you’re white, you’re fine, just don’t.
What excited me most about my experience with the movie wasn’t just how literally diverse the cast was, but knowing that this is a movie for generations to come. The significance of black children having a superhero to watch who looks like them– that just gets me so excited.
I also wasn’t prepared for the film’s nation of Wakanda. Imagine a part of Africa that wasn’t thoroughly colonized, chopped up, enslaved, or otherwise brutalized by white supremacy. Wakanda’s superior technology, its advancements in healthcare, its vast resources, its rich culture –– this is both a wonderful image and a serious condemnation of what has been wreaked on that land over centuries.
Guys, we have to celebrate Black Panther AND recognize what a powerful critique it is on both white cinema and history. Then we have to work towards the world envisioned in the movie –– one that will be open to working together with African nations for a future of peace and prosperity –– while never forgetting the devastating reality check when it comes to the generational trauma and injustice born from centuries of oppression and slavery.
Oh, and added bonus– the movie is full of badass women who smash the patriarchy. Black Panther just got all the things right and you need to get yourself to the theater to see it.
Speaking of media with the word “Black” in the title, Black Mirror became my new favorite show about a month ago. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, it’s a Netflix original set in the not-so-distant future. It’s kind of like a modern day Twilight Zone, and every episode is its own story. It picks on little pieces of our society, like social media and technological advances, and explores what happens when these great advances aren’t as wonderful as we thought they would be. It’s terrifying and wonderful. I would change nothing about it. Go have yourself a Netflix binge, and sorry in advance about the weird dreams that you’re going to have. Actually, have your Netflix binge after you go to the movie theater. Black Panther first, then Netflix.
Enjoy your screen time, friends.