BLACK PANTHER, WHITE OWNER
You might have been mistaken when you read this title “Problems with the New Black Panther film” that you were going to get a cinematic critique with easter eggs and spoilers. No, this article is not actually about the film. As for the physical film we can praise many things. Because when is the last time you saw a positive film about Africans? When was the last time a film had in a country (fictional or otherwise) that was not being saved by Europeans, slaughtering each other, dying of HIV, under siege by a tyrannical Idi Amin type character? Honestly Black Panthers shows us an African country east of Ethiopia that has African people empowered and dressed in African attire and flying spaceships. There is no way the film could go wrong with that kind of opening. And it is interesting that this film was created by White people, who in this instance seem to understand what an African future should look like.
So the issues with this film lie in the area of ownership. Because between Marvel and Disney, all the Black faces stop with actors, director and script. And to sum up this short article, the blame is almost exclusively with African people for why in 2018 we still need the White hunter to tell African stories, positive or otherwise.
SO WHAT’S YOUR PROBLEM
Some of us are proud to see a Black Panther film; a film depicting African culture in a positive light. But it is our job to ask some hard questions. Yes the revolution will be televised by African people or exploited by “the other”. Below are pictures of people involved in the film. Some of them (like every Black themed Hollywood film in recent years 12 years a slave, on and on) include owners and hired help. And the few “black faces” are only there to help mask this fact. I see not one Black Face on the owners board of Marvel or Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
MOVING THE ILLUSION FORWARD
Yes white Hollywood is listening: No longer do African actors die horrible deaths in the first minute of the title sequence. Once upon a time it use to be African actors and all White crew. Now they have not given us one share at Marvel but they now have the Black director who is hired by a white producer to do a film that many of us rush to support thinking we are supporting our image of self. NOw I am happy that their is an African action hero based in Africa and I hope it restores some pride in African everything including African Clothes like what Ocacia Designer Clothing. But do not for one second forget. Because it is because we forget, that we have a party in someone else’s house and call it victory. It is not ours. And the millions of dollars it generates will help put Stan Lee’s great grandchildren through Uni. The African American director and actors are not getting 5% of what that film is worth. But without their talent the film would not be possible, And we will sit down and wait for White generosity to make the next big African themed film. forever on the outside of our own stories.
THEIR SYSTEM OF CONTROL
We can only wonder why no one is making anything African like this until Europeans pave the way. You can see African artist all over the world with comic heroes, paintings of Mansa Musa and Askia, yet none of these stories any African government or person of wealth and influence has attempted to make these films. We know that Danny Glover and many others have tried to push for big epic films of historical African characters only to be stymied by White Hollywood’s need for White faces. But beyond white faces what they really want to secure is White ownership. So unless they can own it, they will not touch it. So even if African can make a film of Mansa Musa or Menelik’s defeat of the wicked Italian’s at the battle of Adwa– who will distribute it? And the best film in teh world without distribution is no film at all. Will Cannes touch it? Will Sundance dance behind it? Not without having their friends with the title deeds in their hands. So with Clint and Robert’s names the critical acclaim by Rotten Tomatoes and New York Times will not happen.