Earl Ofari Hutchinson
The blowback to my very guarded thought on Facebook that “I got it” about the movie Black Panther was swift and brutal. Two points about that. The first demands clarification. Black Panther is a tour de force in filmmaking, a superb boost to Black pride and accomplishment, and hopefully a movie that will lead to a new era in Hollywood showing the full range and dimension of positive Black images. I fully support that as I always have. I have long fought fierce battles against the parade of buck dancing, buckwheat, toms, mammy, coon, gangster, criminal image of Blacks that have been the lot of Blacks for a century on the Big Screen.
Now to point two. We have had many marvelous efforts by Black filmmakers through the years to make quality movies that show Black heroes, pioneers, civil rights and justice fighters, and monumental historical moments in the Black Experience. And in nearly all cases they have died a swift death at the box office. Why? Because Blacks have not mobbed the theaters as they should have to support them. In each case, I have urged, cajoled, and implored Blacks to go see these movies, and in most cases to little avail.
So, the question and challenge for Blacks who want, demand, and are starved for consistent, continual positive Black depictions of themselves from Hollywood and from independent Black filmmakers is this: When the next Black filmmaker makes a dramatic film that shows us as every bit the hero in the real world as Black Panther depicts us in the fantasy world, will Blacks mob the theater or whatever showing venue the film is shown in, go see it three, or four times, take their families and friends to see it, buy whole blocks of tickets to see it, and gush endlessly about it as they did Black Panther? That’s the question and challenge for us that only time will answer.