So, I haven’t seen Black Panther — but it feels like I have because the heightened climate in anticipation of the film’s arrival has been staggeringly infectious. And while joyful and historic occasions are rare and endearing — they can also be unbearably annoying — thanks to the tools that were constructed to turn against us.
My thoughts on the superhero blockbuster that’s holding the world hostage are many and varied but the first item on the list is how disappointing it is to have your worst fears realized. We all comprehend the wildness of social media — particularly Twitter — where I spend a shitload of my time.
Weeks before the grand premiere — the energy was already building up in ways that demonstrated what was to come.
Unfortunately, I’m not a film critic with strong ties to the industry — which could’ve afforded me the treat of seeing a screener before regular folks. The other issue is my present location and the complexities that restrain me from being able to join the eager crowd in the honor of viewing early previews or even showings during the conveniently long weekend.
That being said — it’s been quite fascinating internalizing the reaction of users who can’t wait to share pretty much everything about this life-altering event. The African-inspired garments that are splattered all over my timeline are a heartwarming sight and remind me of how my mother tried in vain to convince me to wear the tailored dresses she would bring during her visits. The exhilarating testimonies — accompanied by evidential images of well-connected activists or people “that know the right people” — have been filtering in with rapid authority — and of course there’s that feeling that your “loser status” picked the wrong time for activation.
But what’s even more defeating is the audacity of most — who are too caught up in the global competition that requires being armed with the perfect Tweet and think pieces — that will finally provide the endorsement that has taken too long to garner. This observation comes on the heels of stumbling upon posted monologues that reveal vital parts of the film — as well as the very last line uttered by T’Challa — with quick summations of its poignantly derived relevance.
At this point — my disappointment lies in the fact that I’m being punished for not seeing the movie when everyone else did or for failing to log off — indefinitely. There’s also the obvious realization that people are so bloody simple, disrespectful and selfish in their pursuits — which is potently disarming at a time when we’re all supposedly bonded in this moment of gloriousness — that we’ve waited all our lives to enjoy.
Because of the carelessness of many — I won’t be able to enjoy Black Panther the way I had hoped because I know too much — including how it all ends and why some are torn up about it.
There’s also the weirdness around the promotion of the film in the realm of fashion and music.
The premieres in all the major cities around the world — showcased the cast in designer duds that weren’t produced by creatives from the Diaspora. They chose to go with brands that are notorious for poaching the African aesthetic — and this was glaringly evident in the selections that made the cut. The expectation for me — was the assurance that the red carpet from Los Angeles to London — would be crowded with Afro-futuristic gems from designers who will finally claim their rightful position on the world stage. But, Versace, Mary Katrantzou and other big names were commissioned to imitate the “real thing.”
Another interesting revelation is the surprising announcement from British-Liberian artist — Lina Iris Viktor who had been approached twice — by the “film’s creators” to feature her work in the highly-anticipated soundtrack — but declined. Viktor got the shock of her life when she noticed that the Kendrick Lamar/SZA — All the Stars video contained strong resemblances to her “series of paintings” titled — Constellations. The 24-karat gold artwork showcases a network of patterns that are one-of-a-kind — and when previewing both pieces side by side — its hard to downplay Viktor’s allegations.
Viktor has retained the services of a lawyer who is taking the necessary steps to vindicate his client. In the meantime the artist who has been reluctantly cast in the spotlight — expressed her thoughts on the matter during a phone interview:
“Why would they do this? It’s an ethical issue, because what the whole film purports is that it’s about black empowerment, African excellence — that’s the whole concept of the story. And at the same time they’re stealing from African artists.”
It seems that “African excellence” can only be attained with the full approval of studio executives at Marvel who produced Black Panther — and Disney who helped with its distribution. They are all White — and by the time this amazing ride is over — they will be millions of dollars richer.
This fact is most likely responsible for the decisions that formulated the soundtrack — attached to a film “about black empowerment and African excellence.” The focus was to recruit artists that will attract dollar signs — starting with the charismatic influence of a Grammy-award winning prolific star like Kendrick Lamar. Only a couple of artists of African descent were invited to lend their skills — which is remarkable when you consider the plethora of globally-renowned talents — that collectively possess the range of authenticity that could’ve easily produced a memorable masterpiece.
Black Panther is currently shattering box office records both home and abroad — and as mentioned earlier — the profits are ultimately benefitting those in power — and these are traditionally privileged White men who are basking in the good fortune of investing in what has become a cultural phenomenon.
There’s already a sequel in the works — and even though I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing the movie of the year — I’m ready to be wowed as fuck — despite falling victim to major spoilers.
I’m also convinced that the impact of Black Panther will set the stage for a revolution that will once and for all empower the institution of Black cinema in ways that diversify the system. This progressive movement will permeate every facet — including casting and the permission to utilize dark-skinned women in roles that celebrate their appeal and vulnerability — outside of the “fantastical elements.”
There will also be an expansion within decision-making pods that have been woefully exclusive. This shift in power will lead to increased influence and re-distribution of responsibilities within a structure that is desperate for advancement.
It’s already happening with the influx of filmmakers like Ava DuVernay and Ryan Coogler who are vastly exceeding expectations by building the army of Black creatives who are prepared to help set the pace for generations to come.
I don’t need to see Black Panther — to be tickled to death about how the future of Hollywood will be forever changed by this long overdue takeover — that may have not be perfectly implemented in its arrival — but will still be hoisted as the blueprint of what took far too long to manifest.