CJ Entertainment

In most regards, the 2020 Oscars are already a disappointment.

In a year full of cinematic diversity, from Lulu Wang's brilliant The Farewell and Greta Gerwig's revitalization of Little Women to Lupita Nyong'o's haunting turn in Us, the major category Oscar nominations are all too blatantly white and male.

Across all four Best Actor/Actress categories, 20 nominations in total, only one POC was named––Cynthia Erivo for her leading role in the Harriet Tubman biopic, Harriet. Apparently Awkwafina's Golden Globe-winning performance of a Chinese-American woman coping with a looming familial death from two conflicting cultural perspectives in The Farewell was not worthy of a spot over Charlize Theron playing former Fox News host Megyn Kelly.

Awkwafina the farewell A24

The Best Director nominations are also, once again, entirely male, with Greta Gerwig getting categorically snubbed, despite Little Women receiving nods for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actress. But at least that's better than the Oscar's treatment of Lulu Wang, who got snubbed entirely. Todd Phillips' Joker, on the other hand, received 11 nominations, more than any other movie this year, which says pretty much everything anyone needs to know about the 2020 Oscars… Or at least it would, if not for Parasite's Best Picture nomination.

In the entire history of the Oscars, only six foreign language films have been nominated for both Best International Film (formerly "Best Foreign-Language Film") and Best Picture. All of them have won the International category, but none have ever taken home the grand prize. After all, for an International Film to win Best Picture, that would require the Academy's overwhelmingly white male voting body (as of 2018, out of 8,000 members, 84% are white and 69% are male) to agree that a movie made by a POC outside of Hollywood is better than anything produced from within (and, more importantly, to actually read subtitles).

A lot of people were surprised by the 2019 Oscars when Green Book––a movie about race relations from the perspective of a white director, white writer, and white protagonist––beat Roma, Alfonso Cuaron's intimate portrayal of a poor Mexican housekeeper. In retrospect, the Academy's choice makes sense. Roma feels like an art film, whereas Green Book practically shouts, "It's okay, white people, we solved racism through friendship!" Considering the Academy's demographic, it was the obvious choice.

But that was 2019, and this is 2020. If the Oscars hope to maintain any glimmer of relevance in the new decade beyond just another masturbatory awards show where Hollywood elites pay lip service to diversity while endlessly patting white men on the back, Parasite needs to win Best Picture.

song kang ho parasite CJ Entertainment

For one, Parasite absolutely deserves it. Bong Joon-ho's darkly comedic thriller about South Korea's class divide is unique, impactful, and more timely than any other film this year. Its themes surrounding ambition, desperation, loss, and social immobility both feel specific to South Korea, and maintain a universality that connects with audiences around the world. Joon-ho's direction and writing (he was also nominated for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay) were spot on, approaching all of its characters with distinct empathy while subjecting them to some of the most brutal, unpredictable twists of any thriller in recent years. The acting was phenomenal too, and it's worth noting that Song Kang-ho's omission from the Best Lead Actor category displays a clear failure on the Academy's part to recognize the humanity of Asian actors and characters.

Still, Parasite seems better poised to win Best Picture than any international film in years past. That's not to knock any of the international Best Picture nominees that came before it, but rather to comment on the modern era. People are more globally connected than ever, thanks to the Internet, and Parasite falls into an overwhelmingly popular, accessible genre and encompasses universally appealing themes. In other words, the only barrier to entry is the subtitles.

It's time for Hollywood to recognize that as the world becomes more internationally connected, white western media can no longer be considered the end-all and be-all of cultural influence. Bong Joon-ho is living proof that some of the most important, talented artistic voices of our era are not white, American men and that diversity is a gift to creativity.

FILM

Marvel To Feature Its First Transgender Superhero

Fans think the character will be an angel.

Here's some good news to start your new year off right: A trans superhero is coming to Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Kevin Feige confirmed the news in a Q&A at New York Film Academy. When asked if the studio would ever have a transgender character, the Marvel Studios president said, "Yes, absolutely. Yes," adding that a trans character is appearing "very soon, in a movie that we're shooting right now" and clarifying that more trans and LGBTQ+ characters would be making an appearance.

It seems that Feige and Marvel are finally understanding that representation matters—and pays. "You look at the success of 'Captain Marvel' and 'Black Panther.' We want the movies to reflect the audience and we want every member of our global audience to see themselves reflected on the screen," he said.

While it's unfortunate (although expected) that Marvel's decision to increase diversity in its casting is connected to whether or not these choices will make a profit, the decision to create a trans superhero is an important step in normalizing the trans identity.

Most likely, Marvel's trans character will appear in Thor: Love and Thunder, as last summer the film's cast list included a trans woman. Fans believe that the character will be the angel Sera, who "descends from a group of all-male angels but who has transitioned to a female identity," according to MSN.

Marvel's History of Transgender Representation

Regardless, Marvel's new trans characters won't technically be the franchise's first trans superhero. That honor belongs to Rebekah, a child transgender activist who was the subject of a recent Marvel documentary, which aired on Disney Plus as part of their Hero Project series. They turned Rebekah, a Christian and a transgender girl, into a hero named "Mightly Rebekah."

Marvel's Hero Project Clip: Mighty Rebekah www.youtube.com

Whoever plays Marvel's first big-screen trans character also won't be their first trans actor. In 2019's Spider-Man: Far From Home, trans actor Zach Barack played one of Peter Parker's friends, though his gender identity didn't feature into the plot.

In an interview, Barack emphasized the importance of trans representation onscreen. He explained that superhero movies, in particular, always "felt like [trans stories] because [they're] talking about identity." Superhero films, he explained, are "about separating what people know about you and what they don't. And I think that's something I kind of live with every day. And on top of that, I don't see a lot of trans-masculine people on television or trans men specifically, and getting to be part of that is beyond unreal."

What Is Your Origin Story? | Zach Barack | TEDxBoulder www.youtube.com


Ramping Up Representation: The Eternals and Representation Firsts

The MCU's first trans character is just the latest in a series of firsts for the company in terms of LGBTQ+ representation. The franchise will also feature its first gay character in the film The Eternals, which will star Richard Madden as Ikaris, "a levitating immortal with teleporting and vaporising powers and abundance of cosmic energy," who also happens to be in a committed and loving gay marriage.

Marvel's Eternals (2020) Teaser www.youtube.com

Among other upcoming firsts: The Eternals will also feature the MCU's first deaf character, and Marvel's first Asian-American star will feature in the film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, set to debut in 2021.

The MCU character Valkyrie is apparently bisexual, according to actress Tessa Thompson, who stated, "In the canon, [Valkyrie] is bisexual. You see her with women and men, so that was my intention in playing her," she told Variety. "Obviously, at the forefront of most of these stories is not typically their romantic life. They have big stakes, like saving the world, so that tends to sort of trump." Even so, the film Thor: Ragnarok received some criticism for erasing Valkyrie's bisexuality.

In most superhero movies, in order to save the world, heroes have to learn to embrace their inner strength and the powers that make them special and exceptional. Maybe the parallels between trans narratives and superhero stories aren't exact—but they're certainly not mutually exclusive, and combining the two will likely only strengthen them both.

Let's hope that they continue this tradition and hire more diverse representation across all their teams, including their writing staff and managerial board. Marvel is incredibly influential in shaping ideas about masculinity, heroism, and cultural norms at large, and therefore their decision to question and challenge archetypal gender roles will likely ripple across culture in the way that no number of tweets or academic papers about transgender identities could.

MUSIC

Petition for Lupita Nyong'o to Start a Rap Career

The star showed off her rapping capabilities on last night's episode of The Tonight Show.

Lupita Nyong'o has already given us so much.

She's performed incredible roles in a variety of films, from Us to Black Panther. She's stunned Oscars audiences and fueled awards show dreams. She's spoken out about social issues like sexual harassment and colorism, and is writing a children's book about the latter.

It seems that there's nothing she can't do. On last night's episode of Jimmy Fallon, she showed us that if she wanted, she could easily take over the music industry. Appearing as her alter ego "Troublemaker," she once again proved that she has a talent for rhythm and wordplay.

This isn't the first time she's shown off her rap capabilities. On the way to the Black Panther premier in 2018, she gave us a glimpse of her freestyling alongside Letitia White. She also rapped alongside the cast of Us in another YouTube video.

"Nakia & Shuri" Freestyle! LUPITA NYONG'O & LETITIA WRIGHT have their own "Black Panther" rap! www.youtube.com

Us Movie Cast Rap Video Jordan Peeles Us(Lupita Nyongo,Winson Duke) www.youtube.com

In 2017, she appeared alongside Chrissy Teigen in Comedy Central's Lip Sync Battle and showed off her dancing abilities. The pieces are all there, and judging by the signs, it'll only be a matter of time before we get our first Troublemaker mixtape.

Vanity Fair

Update: In a recent clip from ITV's upcoming documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, Meghan Markle expresses the mental and emotional toll of new motherhood in the public eye. "Any woman, especially when they're pregnant, you're really vulnerable, and so that was made really challenging. And then when you have a newborn, you know. And especially as a woman, it's a lot," she said. "So you add this on top of just trying to be a new mom or trying to be a newlywed. It's um…yeah. I guess, also thank you for asking because not many people have asked if I'm okay, but it's a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes."

Soon, #WeLoveYouMeghan began trending on Twitter, an outpouring of respect and admiration for the former actress.

"Colorism, society's preference for lighter skin, is alive and well," wrote Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o in an Instagram post.

She shared a picture of her 5-year-old self and promoted the release of her upcoming children's book, Sulwe, which is about a little girl who "has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything."

Cultural bias towards lighter skin is embedded in society after centuries of racism and colonial propaganda. Its political ramifications lurk in the disproportionate rates of police brutality in black communities as well as the multibillion dollar cosmetic industry flooded with skin-lightening ingredients, chemical peels, and creams promising to enhance skin's "brightness." But no matter how many studies and surveys highlight the ubiquity of colorism, the "rigid cultural perception that correlates lighter skin tone with beauty and personal success" still exists. That cracked lens has become so commonplace that it's sometimes difficult to recognize, let alone object to.

But in a week of public stances against colorism and its endproduct of racism, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are calling bulls*it. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are suing the British tabloid The Mail on Sunday for its "ruthless campaign" against Meghan Markle, the first American and first biracial member of the British royal family. As an actress, Markle was candid about how her racial identity had impacted how people treated her all her life on the basis of her "ethnically ambiguous" skin color. "I wasn't black enough for the black roles and I wasn't white enough for the white ones," she wrote, "leaving me somewhere in the middle as the ethnic chameleon who couldn't book a job."

Now, in a marked departure from the royal family's stoic dismissal of tabloid press, Prince Harry published an emotive personal letter (which, reportedly, was not handled or approved by senior aides of Buckingham Palace). In his frank 570-word letter, he makes it clear why silence is too close to complacency in the face of hate-fueled bullying against Markle: "There is a human cost to this relentless propaganda, specifically when it is knowingly false and malicious, and though we have continued to put on a brave face – as so many of you can relate to – I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been."

He describes the "intrusive" and "unlawful" press coverage that has purposefully targeted Markle to deride and defame her with "lie after lie." In particular, he cites The Mail on Sunday's publication of a personal, handwritten letter Markle wrote to her estranged father. British copyright law states plainly that private correspondence cannot be published without the author's explicit consent, making the tabloid's actions clearly illegal. However, Prince Harry goes on to state, "In addition to their unlawful publication of this private document, they purposely misled you by strategically omitting select paragraphs, specific sentences, and even singular words to mask the lies they had perpetuated for over a year." He concludes, "There comes a point when the only thing to do is to stand up to this behavior, because it destroys people and destroys lives. Put simply, it is bullying, which scares and silences people. We all know this isn't acceptable, at any level. We won't and can't believe in a world where there is no accountability for this."

But when does bad press turn into bullying? And what can be done about it?

As repeated scandals between celebrities and the press show, frenzied and overzealous press still break down high profile women as if it were a sport. "For these select media this is a game," Prince Harry writes, "and one that we have been unwilling to play from the start. I have been a silent witness to her private suffering for too long. To stand back and do nothing would be contrary to everything we believe in."

To conclude, he invokes the powerful memory of his mother, Princess Diana, whose volatile relationship with the press ended with her fatal car accident while being chased by the paparazzi: "Though this action may not be the safe one, it is the right one. Because my deepest fear is history repeating itself. I've seen what happens when someone I love is commoditized to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person. I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces."

The media's (brief) period of shame over dehumanizing the mother of two left an indelible mark on our modern cultural consciousness, but we continue to struggle to identify the line between gossip and bullying. In The Mail on Sunday's repertoire of unprofessional, mean-spirited, and illegal reporting tactics, they've used racially charged and sexist language describing the Los Angeles native as "almost straight out of Compton" and "from the cotton fields to royalty."

"This is not bias. This is racism," says Sunil Bhatia, a professor of human development at Connecticut College. She's referring to the internalized racism that affects social hierarchies and how we as a society envisions people in power: Lighter skin is correlated with success, and thus lighter-skinned people are raised to power. In speaking about Meghan Markle in particular, Vogue's editor Edward Enninful says, "Was the criticism racist? Some of it, yeah." Enninful worked with Markle when she guest-edited the magazine's "Forces For Change" edition, which received a shockwave of backlash that called Markle "uppity" and even "anti-white" for focusing on diversity. Enninful says, "Actually it was more than racism. I thought it was personal – attacking someone you don't know, attacking her."

It's true that the press' attacks against Markle haven't been merely racist—they've been classist and sexist, too. From listing the crime statistics of her mother's neighborhood and recounting her mother's financial history to using Markle's departures from royal protocol as evidence that she has a "difficult" and diva-like personality. When Prince Harry and Markle's first post-engagement interview was streamed on Periscope, comments ranged from "Jungle fever," "gold digger," and "biracial commoner" to "whitest black girl" and "unsuitable." In 2016, the royal family even broke their usual silence and issued a public statement on the Markle-hatred, observing that "a line [had been] crossed. [Prince Harry's] girlfriend, Meghan Markle, has been subject to a wave of abuse and harassment. Some of this has been very public - the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments."

Would Meghan Markle receive such treatment if she weren't half-black? If she were from the U.K.? If she weren't an outspoken feminist? If she weren't a former actress, or divorced? Fickle comparisons and contrived reportings of "feuds" between Kate Middleton and Markle suggest that's the case. Predatory press coverage has shown clear bias towards Middleton, who "was born in the UK and has a certain respect for the country," while Markle has been generally referred to as a "disrespectful" outsider who doesn't know her place.

Overall, criticism of Markle, both in the press and on social media, has been a stark indicator that racism, like all forms of colorism, "is alive and well," as Nyong'o wrote in her Instagram post. Nyong'o also noted that colorism is far from just a western problem, writing, "Throughout the world, even in Kenya, even today, there is a popular sentiment that lighter is brighter." She wrote her children's book because she never saw images of girls who looked like her as a child: "As a little girl reading, I had all of these windows into the lives of people who looked nothing like me, chances to look into their worlds, but I didn't have any mirrors. While windows help us develop empathy and an understanding of the wider world, mirrors help us develop our sense of self, and our understanding of our own world. They ground us in our body and our experiences."

In 2016, years before she met Prince Harry and became Duchess of Sussex, Markle wrote a similar sentiment in an Elle essay about her racial identity. "Just as black and white, when mixed, make grey, in many ways that's what it did to my self-identity: it created a murky area of who I was, a haze around how people connected with me," she wrote. "I was grey. And who wants to be this indifferent colour, devoid of depth and stuck in the middle? I certainly didn't. So you make a choice: continue living your life feeling muddled in this abyss of self-misunderstanding, or you find your identity independent of it."

Frontpage Popular News

OSCARS 2018 | 90th Academy Awards Recap

The Highlights

Judging by the build-up alone, you'd figure the 90th Oscars were going to be some kind of wild and crazy. #MeToo, inclusion and representation, and Donald Trump, were all to be expected as topics of speeches. Jimmy Kimmel would have to make self-referential jokes about last year's Best Picture gaff. It's the 90th anniversary of the event which, I guess, is a milestone, maybe?

In case you fell asleep at any point during the four-hour-long saga, here below are some of the highlights.

Jimmy Kimmel wins Best Host

Being a major awards show host is a difficult enough job without having to be the conduit for addressing sensitive political issues, the apologist for the sins of the last year, and the person who has to address Guillermo del Toro and Guillermo of Jimmy Kimmel Live -- sitting but a few seats from each other -- and not mixing everybody up about it. Not only did Jimmy Kimmel traverse every potential pitfall waiting for him, but he did so comfortably. Unfortunately for him, right at the last second -- after he'd already celebrated a job well done, it turns out Ricky Gervais was the actual host of the show. They mixed up the cards.


Kobe scores


So there's an EGOT for Emmy-Grammy-Oscar-Tony, but what about an acronym for NBA championship-MVP-Oscar? A MON? A NOM? Probably a NOM. By the grace of God, Kobe Bryant took home the trophy for Best Short Film (Animated), for "Dear Basketball". Shaq sat watching at home, pretending not to be mad.


Dunkirk takes the technical categories


Against tough competition, The Shape of Water and Blade Runner 2049 (side note: 2049 is this year's most overlooked film) each took home two trophies in the more technical Oscars categories. But Dunkirk nabbed three--for film editing, sound editing and sound mixing--and deservedly so.


Comics prove once and for all that they're better than actors


Not enough people get this. As a society we've sort of determined that actors are important because they're shown on big screens and their faces become well-known. But comics have always been more interesting than actors, because actors require context where comics don't. Comics have to build their bones on being worthwhile only in themselves--no camera, no script or director. That's why, of all the dozens of presenters at the 90th Oscars, the comics were the ones who stood out. Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph did a great #OscarsSoBlack bit, and Kumail Nanjiani nailed every word of his presentation.


Jordan Peele pulls out Best Screenplay


The best last-second twist to the Key and Peele sketch of life. Biggest upset of the night goes to Jordan Peele taking Best Screenplay over favorites Martin McDonagh (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) and Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird). While those other scripts may have been of higher technical quality, there's no doubt that Get Out's wild concept and execution were most original, and worthy of recognition.


Frances MacDormand wins Best Speech


One time I accidentally stole a cab from Frances McDormand, and her husband (Academy Award-winning filmmaker Joel Coen) and son. I felt pretty bad about it at the time. It seems she's bounced back just fine from the incident. Winner of the Golden Globe for Best Actress as well this year, for her performance in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, once McDormand got onstage she gave the speech everyone was waiting for.


The Shape of Water wins Best Picture


However you or I may feel about The Shape of Water, I think we can all agree that Guillermo del Toro is a really cute fella. His smile goes ear-to-ear, and was on full display after his name got called for Best Director, and then his film for Best Picture. His accent and his dorky glasses will warm the hearts of even those among us wondering why a movie about monster sex beat out Call Me By Your Name, Phantom Thread and Lady Bird.


Nate Nelson is an NYC-based writer and podcast host.


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FILM & TV

SATURDAY FILM SCHOOL | 'Black Panther' Sinks Its Claws Into Afrocentrism

Marvel is a little too congratulatory of themselves finally making a notable black superhero. Let's hope they don't squander the sequel.

'Black Panther'

Showcasing black characters is hardly compliment-worthy so much as it is a fair representation of America.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe prefers a comfortable blueprint, one many Americans have come to expect and begrudgingly enjoy as a weekend get-out-of-the-house activity. The formula goes as such: an awkward or socially inept boy becomes a hero; hero meets girl; hero meets villain (who's not only threatening said love interest but the entire world). The stakes are always the same, the love interest always the hostage, and the world is always oblivious to the intergalactic battle between good and evil until something is posted on social media or on Marvel's version of CNN. We get it. It's fun. Take our money. "Thor Ragnarok" and "Spider-Man: Homecoming," recent additions to the comic-book canon have, let's say, heightened expectations for Marvel films: If you're going to tell a superhero story, these days, your masked hero will have guts, charisma, and a past or, as the critics call it, old-fashioned character development. His girl, cool gadgets, and facetious one-liners will simply embellish the Marvel sundae.

"Black Panther" is a Marvel film, make no mistake; this is a blockbuster, get-your-wallets-out-now movie, but you'll be surprised to know it subverts the comic-book paradigm in myriad ways. T'Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and his team of allies, sister and tech genius Shuri (Letitia Wright), love interest and undercover spy Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o) and his general Okoye (Danai Gurira), head of an all-female special forces unit, are a dream team. Ramonda, T'Challa's mother, is played by a regal Angela Bassett, and Forest Whitaker as Zuri plays T'Challa's mentor. The women in T'Challa's life are strong and capable, equal to men in power and courage. There are no damsels in "Black Panther"; this is a female-driven film with black women at the fore.

Black Panther's adversary Killmonger (ladies' man Michael B. Jordan)—reuniting with Ryan Coogler a third time after the critically acclaimed "Fruitvale Station" and "Creed"—shares Wakandan blood and is a possible heir to the throne, but he lives in Oakland, CA. Growing up in political strife, watching the American hardships of his community—police brutality, incarceration, oppression, and poverty—Killmonger's determination to rage war against his oppressors seems like a noble cause countering T'Challa's stubborn isolationism. Think of Killmonger as a swaggering Malcolm X, or better yet, a beefed-up, grown Huey Freeman ("The Boondocks").

It's rare to find characters this enriched in action movies. Their motivations are tied to real-world sentiments and their values ingrained in human pathology; these are flawed people in armor, and the result is a timely rebuttal, subtle and loud when necessary, in response to Trump's dividing rhetoric. (Jack Kirby would be proud. Stan Lee is pouring a 40 for him.)

On the surface, "Black Panther" is the familiar tale of a warrior learning the ropes of leadership and civil responsibility; as a Ryan Coogler film, "Black Panther" is kinetic Afrofuturism paired with a soundtrack curated by Kendrick Lamar. (If you're expecting Black Panther and his kin to perform an African ritual dance to Lamar's "Alright," think again. "Black Panther's" soundtrack is a beautiful trifecta of tribal drums, hip-hop beats, and African chants that adorn the futuristic splendor of Wakanda and its peoples.)

The story goes that Wakanda, a fictional nation in Africa, has a natural surplus of vibranium—the same glowing element Captain America's shield is made out of, for reference—used by the royal family to enhance their weapons, technology, and bodies; Wakanda, as a result, is wealthy and a leading world power, tasked with either keeping their abundant resources within their homeland or sharing their wealth with poorer nations, a classic self-preservation versus humanitarianism dilemma.

T'Challa follows in the footsteps of his father (killed in a terrorist attack in "Captain America: Civil War"), assiduously honoring tradition over globalism, but he quickly learns in order to progress, Wakandan values (and comfort zones) must evolve. Like any historical revolution, there are some casualties, and in Wakanda, you are only as good as the last spear you threw. When T'Challa discovers a polarizing truth about his father, his ideals are shattered, and the nation succumbs to civil war.

"Black Panther" is opulent and a dazzling experience and one of the better Marvel releases in recent years. Why then, do I find myself questioning the monumental buzz centering this film? At its best, "Black Panther" is a fully-formed blockbuster with coherent plot arcs, characters, and action sequences. It is a decent superhero film heralded, by critics, as a revolutionary film supporting the ethos of #BlackGirlMagic and #BlackLivesMatter all in one. Yes, this film features nearly an all-black cast and it channels current political and social dialogues, but perhaps, let's not pat ourselves on the back, just yet. White liberals are very quick to scream "revolutionary" and "imaginative" when art simply references the black experience. Commercializing an entire demographic's social pangs and packaging them as a kid-friendly, box-office release doesn't qualify it as art in lineage with other black revolutionaries. Let us not forget, this is a Marvel franchise, only popular and esteemed as long as it's profitable.

Showcasing black characters is hardly compliment-worthy so much as it is a fair representation of America. "Black Panther" wants to reimagine black excellence by making light of imperialism, imposing an origin story where Africans benefit from a meteorite hit. Hurray vibranium!

Killmonger is an African descendent reclaiming his heritage; the funny thing, however, is his own people are better off without him: In other words, an African-American becomes a spear-throwing imperialist in the vain of attacking those who have oppressed him. It's an inversion of slavery, oppressing the original colonizer, something the film subliminally gestures to, before basking in Killmonger's ultimate defeat.

Black Americans don't have the luxury of reclaiming their ancestral roots in Africa on account of slavery; films like "Black Panther" only reiterate the erasure of black identities. The resurgence of Afrocentrism in media, the countless dashikis, braids, and West African music in pop culture are an exercise in sentimentalism, reminding black Americans of the motherland without historical, regional, and anthropological accuracy. Again, "Black Panther" isn't really concerned about appropriation, or whether its fictitious nation is properly discussed in history classes to Oakland's youth. Here's to hoping extensive research went into the costume design and makeup.

These are things to consider when watching black movies about black communities in non-black contexts, a.k.a. the Marvel Industrial Complex. The hype is liberal confetti surrounding a blockbuster that finally features more than one black actor. "Black Panther" is good for a Marvel flick, I'll admit, but more of a step than a leap in the direction of revolutionary content.

'Black Panther'Marvel/Disney

POP⚡ DUST Score: ⚡⚡⚡⚡⚡


Shaun Harris is a poet, freelance writer, and editor published in avant-garde, feminist journals. Lover of warm-toned makeup palettes, psych-rock, and Hilton Als. Her work has allowed her to copyedit and curate content for various poetry organizations in the NYC area.


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