Escapism Offered Up by the Black Panther

According to academics, “One interesting aspect of cinema attendance is that during the Great Depression, which swept the United States in the 1930’s, a higher percentage of the population went to the cinema each week than during the times of economic expansion and great prosperity.” They were escaping their grim reality and looking for hope. Read more here

During the 2016 election cycle, critics said that blacks who supported Trump were dumb enough to believe that America could be made great again, and that they could be part of that equation, returning to a time when their families were intact and getting out of the inner city was still a possibility.

“What have you got to lose?” – Donald Trump

“Everything!” – The Black Community

Freedom is a hard thing. When you are free you are no longer dependent on the past. You are no longer bound by what others think of you. When you are not free, you tend to gravitate toward escapism.

Just like during the Great Depression, escapism is exactly what the Black Panther offers. And hope.

Could Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, through the creation of these characters back in 1966, offer the hope that didn’t come with Obama? Screenwriters Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole are both Americans of African descent. Maybe this is why all across America we have the weird and slightly disturbing phenomena of black folk dressing up in African garb “showing out”, and buying out theaters for private showings of Marvel/Disney’s Black Panther. Might I suggest leaving the garb at home and just ordering some popcorn?

My review: Black Panther is a very good movie. It fits perfectly in the Marvel Universe. It was a fun, enjoyable ride with typical Marvel action, wit and humor. 4 out of 5 stars.

Did I feel a sense of cultural pride? No. Was I put back in touch with my African heritage? No more than when I viewed The Lion King. So, why are perfectly sane Americans of African descent singing and dancing and putting kingly crowns on their boys’ heads and demanding that Disney pay reparations (for what, I ask you?) from the profits from Marvel’s latest blockbuster movie?

Simply put… We as a people are stuck.

Like the Wakandans in the fictional country of Wakanda, we are stuck in the past unwilling to embrace a new world. Still drinking from the cups of sorrow from America’s racist past, blacks are mourning the end of America’s first black president’s term. So we escape. For three hours black folk get to celebrate a world where we are victorious in bloodless battles, our culture is superior and we are all fit, toned, beautiful and undeniably black.

We get to deny the reality that even in “the Mother Country” blacks sold other blacks into slavery. We get to deny that most of us would never want to live in the conditions afforded by the countries from which we are descended. And hypocritical critics who thought blacks were dumb for believing in Donald Trump ignore the fact that blacks are currently piling all our hopes, dreams and wishes into a fictional character made up by two white men.  I like popcorn with my movies. Instead “the community” is trying to serve me a deep cup of sorrow with a side of hypocrisy.



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