Lesson from Marvel Black Panther Movie Women
I am going to be honest here, I knew Black Panther was coming out and I placed it in a category with Ant Man. Probably an OK superhero movie, but I was only going to see it if my kids initiated the event. Unlike Avenger’s coming out in 2018 and Star Wars films, I didn’t need a premiere showing. In fact, waiting for the streaming play wouldn’t bother me much. How wrong I was! I needed to see the Marvel Black Panther movie women to learn something new about myself.
Black Panther Movie Buzz
I first got the buzz to see Black Panther when I began hearing about how crowd funding was buying tickets for Harlem kids. “Wow, there are so many kids who don’t get to see movies in the theatre with the regularity I do.” Don’t assume, I didn’t know there were poor families. I do. But this fundraising brought clear an opportunity that I take for granted. Next, I started thinking, “Wow, someone felt it was really important for these kids to see the Marvel Black Panther movie.” But why that movie? Why now? The crowdfunders said it’s so that underserved and underrepresented black children can see strong admirable role models and great things about black culture on the big screen in a big way. That makes great sense and I can understand that in a supportive way. Everyone should see admirable role models, but honestly I wasn’t moved to donate (that probably makes me sound horrible, but gofundme campaigns have created massive donor fatigue in me). But I will admit the story about the campaign got me thinking, perhaps the movie will be better than I thought. Afterall, people are targeting it for social good.
Marvel Black Panther comes out
Like I said I didn’t go out on opening day or weekend, but I heard about massive box office numbers. Everyone was coming out to see this movie. Now I wanted to know what made this movie so great. So I watched a trailer (below) and wrangled another couple to join me and my husband on date night to see the Marvel Black Panther women and men. I was actually getting excited to see it. I was ready to be blow away! (and the trailer didn’t hurt any)
In the theatre
I got bored. I did, I really did. But I don’t leave theaters for boredom (excess lude material, yes). So I watched the film and started to wonder, “Why am I bored of this movie?’ It didn’t make any sense. The storyline was packed with characters and surprises, high tech gadgets, aggressively choreographed fight scenes. It had everything that I enjoyed in every Avengers movie and major superhero franchise . My Netflix que has loads of these movies. But for some reason, I just wasn’t connecting with the film material. That’s when I had a thought…
“This must be how the whole of black culture feels watching almost every major box office hit. Its completely unrelatable because every lead character is white and all the stories are white! How could I be allowing myself to feel this way! I need to champion this film!”
(I hope you won’t think me racially ignorant for thinking this, but admitting it is my effort to correct myself).
This was a moment when I recognized my white bias living. I don’t even realize how few films make it big that are disconnected from African-American culture. Films that contain no inspiring heroic characters for young black kids to pretend to be when they play. Sure there are admirable characters in film and there are many films with admirable African-Americans. But I never realized how few were NOT white. For my previous ignorance, I am saddened. But so grateful that the Marvel Black Panther movie women awoke and shook my white-girl bubble-thinking. Thinking that was more an omission of behaviors and paradigm and less a commission of exclusion. Please know I never intend for any group to be marginalized, all groups are part of humanity and for that my brothers and sisters under God.
Suddenly, there in the moment when momma, Queen Rhomonda (Angela Basset), meets her family to flee Wakanda, I became so much more interested in this film. Why was I letting the fact the heros weren’t the same color as me remove me from being interested in this film. That’s RIDICOULOUS!!! That’s allowing default thinking to lead my life. Rhomonda is an amazing queen. She was facing monarchy destruction like that of Mary Queen of Scots with grace, poise and determination (sorry I don’t know African history or I would reference that –another sign of my “white paradigm” I should work on) . And a mother’s love that sacrifices is something I can identify with always.
I wanted to connect with the film. I didn’t want my default thinking to prevent me from feeling the power of Shuri’s STEM princess power. And seriously the virtual car scene was pretty amazing. (it’s in the clip below) The fact her greatness was displayed and displayed in a almost all black cast, is perfectly wonderful. I like her even more now.
I loved Okoye as I realized she is struggling with the problems of all modern women– career vs. love. And she was strong! She made difficult choices. She is a women all little girls can love and should see as an example. And her combat skills are amazing. My favorite is that she didn’t like club clothes and wigs.
My kids have plenty of movies to enjoy with heroic and admirable white people. I want everyone to have that. Latino, Pacific Island, Chinese, Japanese, African. Every culture is strong, every culture has good. I want the children of every culture, sub culture and group to feel related to the stories they watch on film. That means I need to recognize where I am allowing this diversity to be forgotten. Diversity should be sought, default thinking should be challenged.
So in the end the Marvel Black Panther women are a model every white person should see because it teaches not only about strong women but grants a tiny glimpse into what it could be like to see great films that don’t represent you, but are valuable representations all the same. These women gave me a moment to have the smallest insight into disenfranchisement. That’s education I needed. This is the self-check I needed between have’s and have not’s. This is what art and film are for. Am I ashamed of my experience? Well sure, –no one wants to admit they have a racial bias–but will I allow that bias to remain? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! I will remove my lens of perception and I owe it to the women of Black Panther.