Racists try to bring down Black Panther’s ratings

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Black Panther, the predominantly African-American-casted Marvel superhero movie, comes to Canadian theatres Feb. 16. The movie has been long anticipated, since the emergence of King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) in Captain America: Civil War introduced many strongly-written characters who are people of colour. 

But for all the excitement the movie has stimulated, there has been a festering blight on sites like Facebook and Rotten Tomatoes from various alt-right groups – which have been the focus of numerous attempts to sabotage the film’s release and inflict as many negative reviews on the film as possible, using hashtags like #DCOverMarvel and #BringDownDisney. 

These efforts have been speculated to be a thinly-veiled attempt at legitimizing negative discourse and have been recognized as an obvious scapegoat, hiding clearly racist and bigoted opinions. 

For those who share these views, Black Panther stands to be a daunting problem, especially since the enthusiasm for the film has opening-day box office projections estimating it will be the highest selling superhero movie to date. To compare, The Avengers sold $207 million on their opening weekend and Black Panther is on track for making close to that on the first day.  

But why is Black Panther such an important movie? Is it the fact that it’s Marvel’s first film directed by an African American director, Ryan Coogler? Or is it the primarily POC cast, which is a statistical minority in most media today?  

It’s these elements, combined with a more crucial component, which have captivated critics, comic connoisseurs and cinema consumers alike. 

Everybody deserves to have role models and witness strong, complex, three-dimensional characters come to life on the big screen.

There have been few movies which have had the ability to boast as impressive and well-written POC characters as Black Panther aims to. Black Panther himself, who was shown to be incredibly composed, highly intelligent, with strength on par with the other Avengers, has already set the stage of what is to be expected in the upcoming feature film.  

Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya and Forest Whitaker, are all talented black actors who star in the film and who should not be critiqued for anything but their acting ability. Their collective power as an ensemble black cast is undeniable, even from the trailers and hype surrounding the movie alone. 

As a white male, I can recognize that I have never been the minority depicted on screen. Cinema is littered with white role models and heroes that I have spent my entire life watching, imitating, learning from and wanting to be more like.

I am represented in basically every movie that I watch and I recognize the immeasurable privilege that I have in being able to say that I have never had to look too far to find positive portrayals of characters who I can look up to.

Films that give credence to positive POC representation in media are what should be given credit. Movies that provide greater recognition to their existence as more than just being the face of their struggles in period pieces or smart-mouthed sidekicks alongside their lead, white companions in action flicks.

Inclusion, especially in a non-stereotypical manner, is incredibly important in giving people – especially youth – a greater number of images that can provide them perspective. 

When Whoopi Goldberg was nine years old, watching Star Trek, she noticed Lieutenant Uhura on the television. In a time where POC representation on television and movies was nearly non-existent, she stated, “I looked at it and I went screaming through the house, ‘Come here, mum, everybody, come quick, come quick, there’s a black lady on television and she ain’t no maid!”  

Everybody deserves to have role models and witness strong, complex, three-dimensional characters come to life on the big screen. Black Panther looks to become a juggernaut of pan-Africanist cinema, presenting a positive and unapologetically afro-centric example that will hopefully set precedent for the future of superhero movies. 

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