5 Reasons You Should Celebrate Black History Month with Black Panther

I only go to the movies once or twice per year, so naturally I’m pretty picky about which ones I see, and why. When I saw Black Panther advertise for the first time, I already knew why I would watch it. You mean I get to see my people not being cast as poverty-stricken thugs and baby-mommas in the hood, for once?

Ha! I could get behind that — and I wanted to do it in the first week of release, as we all know how well a movie does in the first week is the true measure of its success. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one with that plan as by the time I tried to buy tickets on Wednesday, most theaters were already sold out. I just barely managed to snag my ticket for 10:30 PM, Thursday night.

I didn’t watch any of the trailers for the movie and I’m not a big MARVEL fan, so though I didn’t know exactly what to expect, I had high expectations all the same. And boy, did the movie deliver! So now that I’ve been blown away by Black Panther, here are five reasons you’ve got to go see it. Don’t worry — there are no spoilers.

Depiction of True Strength

When I read a book or watch a movie, one of the first things I look out for is how “strong women” are portrayed. The token “strong woman” is the stock character tossed into everything from romantic comedies to spy movies, to appease feminists and supposedly inspire young girls.

But 9 times out of 10, the alleged strong woman just lacks empathy and/or ends up needing to be rescued by a man by the end of the movie or book, anyway. Black Panther follows no such formula.

The science and tech geek? The Princess of Wakanda. The nation’s most well-known spy? The Prince of Wakanda’s romantic interest. The Prince’s personal guards? Women. The general of his army? Also a woman. The leaders of his kingdom? Men and women.

 

And even better, the movie does this without ever taking away from the strength of men, or subjecting them to any measure of inferiority. The Prince is revered, and the strength of the women he surrounds himself with — and the men — only add to his own strength, as a sovereign.

Money, Meet Mouth

In 2016, the Oscars’ nominee lineup inspired outrage in Hollywood, and on social media. Why? Because for the second year in a row, all the nominees were Caucasian, with the exception of one token Asian actor.

Celebrities like Will Smith, Idris Alba, Whoopi Goldberg, George Clooney, Sylvester Stallone, Matt Damon, Steven Spielberg, and even President Barack Obama took issue with the Oscars and publicly aired their distaste for the lack of diversity.

When these things happen, it’s easy to run to Facebook and Twitter and rant and rage. But the only way we can ensure more movies like this make it to the big screen, is by supporting this one on its way to becoming a box office success. It’s time to put our money where our mouth is.

 

 

 

 

The Sound of Magic

If this movie isn’t awarded for one of the best soundtracks ever made, I would be surprised. Sure, you’re watching an African movie, and expect to see a few fire-chants, and tribal staff-stomping, but the soundtrack provided far more than that.

The movie was actually scored with tribal music; which gradually blended with old-school, ominous hip hop beats, mostly centering around the villain. The two sounds created a dichotomy, juxtaposing Blacks who still have a pleasant tie to their African roots versus African-Americans who lost their racial identity due to slavery and racism.

This is not a theme I expected the movie to explore, but I was glad it did. I often notice this difference between the people I know from Black-majority countries, versus African-Americans born and raised in a predominantly White country that systematically oppresses them in one form or another. Seeing it illustrated in film was intriguing, to say the least.

 

 

Black Dichotomy

The music was not the only engine driving the theme of the Black dichotomy. In fact, the movie on a whole really pushes the envelope in the matter-of-fact way it addresses race in general, with no apologies, and no particular f**ks given.

When the Princess of Wakanda is tasked with healing a White colleague of the Prince, she jokes that they’ve given her another “broken White boy” to fix. And when he wakes to find himself in her lab, she casually (and amicably) refers to him as “Coloniser”.

These matter-of-fact and whimsical treatments of race is contrasted with the African-American reality, where Blackness is almost a burden, rather than a strength. This alternate reality leaves us with one of the most profound movie quotes I have ever heard:

…bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from the ships. Because they knew death was better than bondage.

Making History

Along with exploring history, Black Panther is set to make some history of its own. It is well on its way to becoming a box office success; killing the longstanding belief that movies not featuring a Caucasian lead, and 98-pound damsels in distress, cannot be successful.

 

 

 

I know many of you will agree, this movie was long overdue. Imagine, we had to wait until 2018 to see a film where Blacks and African culture were portrayed in a positive light.

Maybe in another five years, they’ll finally stop paying White actors and actresses with posh accents, to pretend to be Africans in Egypt.

Just saying.

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*Featured Image Photo Credit: Black Panther, Marvel Inc.

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56 thoughts on “5 Reasons You Should Celebrate Black History Month with Black Panther

  1. I’m late to the loop here, I know. But I have literally just finished watching Black Panther. What a great film. What struck me the most is how far we’ve come in that so many of the actors are household name material (Michael B Jordan, Angela Bassett, Forest Whittaker to name perhaps the most famous). Go back even 25 years and most of the actors wouldn’t have been all that well known.

    Even the actors I couldn’t name looked familiar. Very pleased to see The Walking Dead’s Danai Gurira although without the dreadlocks it took me a while to recognise her. And Letitia Wright who I suspect will become a household name in the next few years too following a fine performance in Black Mirror and now this. Daniel Kaluuya who was in ANOTHER episode of Black Mirror has also had a lot more visibility in the last couple of years in British dramas.

    1. It’s never too late to join the conversation! I’m glad you came across this post after watching it and that you enjoyed the movie. I should really watch it again, myself.

      I’ve met a few people who didn’t like it and I always think they just don’t get it. It’s not just the plot or the performance, but the fact that something like this could make it onto the big screen, and that it took all the way until then to make it happen.

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