Everybody has a sentiment they believe is worth sharing when it comes to Black Panther. And some of them are very bad. “Black Panther carries the hopes of the global African diaspora.” “Does Black Panther solve Hollywood’s Africa problem?” “What exactly will the Black community gain [from Black Panther], aside from another symbolic victory?”
Ahead of the film’s premiere this Friday, I have but a simple request: Retire these senseless hot takes, please and thank you. Black Panther does not face some sort of impossible burden. It isn’t responsible for living up to some inessential expectations of what a black superhero should be. While there’s no denying that there’s never been quite a movie like Black Panther, it just feels like it might be more useful to enjoy the film and just, you know, celebrate the damn thing.
In fact, the only acceptable “hot take” from the film is that Michael B. Jordan is at his peak, both acting and looks wise, and Ryan Coogler should direct all the movies. As Erik Killmonger, Michael Bae Jordan is a rare villain in that he is devoid of cartoonish motivations. You’re going to feel his pain, bro. Between that and the faux locs, I promise it’ll make you feel some type of way.
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And watching Black Panther is certainly a emotional experience, especially as a black person. But it’s bananas to say that it (or any other film, frankly) carries the hopes of all black people, or that it should be the one film to solve Hollywood’s Africa problem, whatever that is.
Black Panther might prove to studios that black narratives are bankable and it's certainly a major win that will go down in the pop culture echelon as a Very Important Moment. But like, America will still be racist. And representation in Hollywood isn’t going to change overnight, either.
So while I plan on seeing Black Panther approximately seven more times, I also see it for what it is: a very good movie filled with very beautiful black people that should be held up and celebrated.
I’m not expecting it to solve any problems or speak for the global African diaspora — which, by the way? It’s OK to just say black. Black Panther doesn’t need a hot take. It doesn't need to be everything for everyone.
It just needs to be enjoyed.