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Black Panther: Movie Response

I found that the readings for Tuesday’s class provide a solid introduction to “Black Panther”. I had never seen the movie before, and two quotes from Wallace’s “Defining Moment” helped set the stage for what was to come. On page 3, Wallace writes that “superheroes are powerful and beloved, held in high esteem by society at large; the idea that a normal black person could experience such a thing in America was so farfetched as to effectively constitute gallows humor.” Further down the page, the article features a quotation from Jamie Broadnax, the founder of Black Girl Nerds, an online community centered around sci-fi and comic-books. Broadnax notes that Black Panther is “‘the first time in a very long time that we’re seeing a film with centered black people, where we have a lot of agency’…these characters, she notes, ‘are rulers of a kingdom, inventors and creators of advanced technology. We’re not dealing with black pain, and black suffering, and black poverty’ — the usual topics of acclaimed movies about the black experience.” (Wallace 3-4). I think that these two excerpts effectively summarize “Black Panther”’s significance: a movie that showcases both African-American males and females in a powerful, positive light.

“Black Panther” reached movie theaters in February of 2018, a little over a year after Donald Trump took office. I cannot help but draw a connection between these two events, given their proximity. I found an article on The Atlantic titled “An Oral History of Trump’s Bigotry.” This piece exposes many instances in which Donald Trump uses racist rhetoric. Not only does this film bring an African-American story to Hollywood, but it also counters the degrading language that the President frequently uses. Furthermore, “Black Panther” provides a change in the typical narrative of pop-culture — that is a different perspective other than the usual white narrative.

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3 Comments

  1. Nicolette Romley Nicolette Romley

    I don’t think the importance of Black Panther for the African-American community can be emphasized enough. For a superhero movie to be made with the intention of having only black actors and targeting a black audience is something that has never been done before. Black actors have been cast in roles that were originally meant for white actors before, but it is different to have the roles created specifically for black actors.

  2. Sara Messervey Sara Messervey

    I love the importance of this film in centering blackness as Wallace describes. When every film is predominantly white, not only in its central characters, but also all of its background filler characters, it erases black culture and voices. That’s precisely the beauty of this film, whose background characters & ensemble are predominantly black. Black is beautiful, and for once, at the forefront of a powerful and wide-reaching film.

  3. Katherine Fell Katherine Fell

    I think that the point that you made about the success of Black Panther being especially important because of its release in the midst of the Trump administration. Unfortunately, we have a president who uses racially insensitive rhetoric. Furthermore, it is interesting in that Trump’s presidency follows that of Barack Obama, America’s first black president.

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