Black Panther is as racist as Wonder Woman is as sexist. Despite what critics irk about, the box office draws are showing that the overwhelming majority of fans do not care.
I cannot believe the ire coming across on social media, and in my own personal circles.
You know what racism is? A character named Black Panther, taking place in Africa, using a mostly White cast. Racism is telling a story about a particular race, without actually including members from that race, or appreciating the cultural context.
In that context, how many American movies can you name off the top of your head, that portrayed a civilized, non-impoverished, tech-savvy view of Africa? We never get to see skyscrapers, suburban neighborhoods, financial districts, shopping malls, etc. We see villages, wild animals, poverty and disparity. But there is SO MUCH more to the continent and its nations. We rarely, if ever, get to see an idealized view of African life, especially involving Black or any non-colonial perspectives.
I did type out an insanely long list of examples, but just google “Hollywood movies that take place in Africa” and decide for yourself.
The only films I can think of that gives us any peek at a civilized Africa, and they were peeks, were When We Were Kings, and Malcolm X. Both movies included scenes of the title characters visiting Africa to see for themselves. I was shocked as Ali was, because like him, until that moment, I had never even imagined any aspect of Africa as a modern civilization.
Black Panther is a breakout film in how it portrays Africa from a social and cultural context. It comes from a place of idealism, and that is truly rare. It’s too complex to simply be labeled racist. Both the hero and villain are Black, and White. The context of good vs evil transcends race, and the focus is on the culture of the setting, not just race.
And none of that matters if the movie sucks. Having a female lead superhero didnt mean much with Catwoman, did it? And having a title we all love means little if it flops, like Fantastic Four. At the core of it all, Black Panter seems to have a winning formula in spades. I just hope I walk out of it much better than I did as a Japanese walking out of the Last Samurai, or Memoirs of a Geisha.
*Blankman was bad, but in such an adorable way.