Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Salem Wants To Watch A Movie: Black Panther

Look, you all know I'm an unrepentant MCU fanboy. I've seen them all multiple times, with even my least favourite hitting three re-watches. Yes, even Thor: The Dark World; I make apologies for that one all the time. Despite popular opinion, Iron Man 3 is not only one of my favourite MCU films, but it's also one of my favourite movies.

As we're staying on a theme, you might remember two weeks ago I explained why I hadn't yet seen The Last Jedi, mainly because of the controversy around it. There's a similar situation brewing with Black Panther. 

Look, SyFyWire, I'm not sure where you've been for the last hundred years or so, but science fiction frequently stars people that are not just white dudes, but women and people of other ethnicities. Hell, a lot of it is people of other species, be they fantasy races such as elves, dwarves, and orcs, or alien races such as Cardassian, Gou'ould, or Turian. Since the MCU movies started hitting theatres, our main concern hasn't been "Are we going to be able to identify with the white dude in the movie?" so much as "Is this movie going to respect the source material and give us something fun and compelling?"

And the MCU has yet to disappoint (okay, except for maybe The Dark World). Literally nobody looking forward to Black Panther is mad that there's not a white dude in the lead role. Quite the opposite; anyone familiar with the source material would probably be livid were they to re-cast T'Challa as a white man. You saw the reaction to Tilda Swinton's casting as the Ancient One, right?

I'm still hyped for Black Panther. It's another addition to the MCU canon, and it's looking pretty good so far. But some of us are concerned... not that we won't, again, be unable to identify with the lead role; I'm sure I can identify with the king of a xenophobic, isolationist African country that's technologically advanced and prosperous due to extra-terrestrial mineral resources and has a super suit and cadre of female bodyguards as much as the next person. I can  possibly identify with it as much as I can identify with a woman who grew up trained as a super-assassin by elements of the Russian military, or a brilliant scientist who put himself in harm's way and was rewarded by turning into an uncontrollable green rage monster, or a demi-god who had to learn a lesson in humility before daddy would give him his powers back.

No, I'm worried because a lot of people are playing up the minority element in this movie. Not to the same extent it was played up in Ghostbusters; Feige and Disney would never release something on the same level of quality that Sony somehow managed. But I guarantee you that a lot of people who wanted to watch it won't, because you've talked them into the idea that they don't want to see it.

The same thing nearly happened to me with The Last Jedi, and it's been happening for a while. Lord knows the progressive fandom has been doing its absolute level best to convince me that I'm not at all interested and in fact am outraged at Jodie Whittaker's casting as The Doctor, when I have no idea* if she'll be good or not.
* Aside from the fact there's never been a bad Doctor. Shut up, there hasn't. Colin Baker was fantastic.
In short, knock it off. Stop propping up strawmen to try and convince yourselves that your ideological enemies are mad that something cool is coming out. Stop pretending like it's never happened before. I feel like slapping the next person that forgot that Blade had two fantastic movies (and one questionable one) before the X-Men franchise even started picking up any real steam.

Hype it up. Share the love. Celebrate it if you feel you need to. But when you start celebrating how what you love is going to piss off some monolithic and imaginary ideal of the people you hate, you're doing fandom absolutely the wrong way. It's worse than the gatekeeping that you preach against. It's sub-cultural gentrification, and it's annoying as all hell.

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