*So what is it about “Black Panther” that has (white) conservatives‘ panties in a collective bunch? Take for instance what Ben Shapiro (pictured), the editor-in-chief of The Daily Wire and host of “The Ben Shapiro Show.”
Last week he ranted that he wasn’t sure why there was such joy and acclaim for the new Marvel film that featured mostly black actors and creatives in front of and behind the camera.
“‘Blade’ was not enough,” Shapiro quipped, referencing the 1998 film and subsequent two sequels that starred Wesley Snipes.
The theater was full. The audience was probably 80-90 percent black. The lobby of the first theater had also bustled with mostly black customers. There were many parents with young children. At both theaters, men and women of all ages and configurations — couples, siblings, entire families — were eager to take photos with the movie poster.
Observing it all, I had one thought: Who would dump on this?
Because in the days leading up to the movie’s release, I saw a lot of negativity toward “Black Panther” in right-leaning media. Ben Shapiro seemed to dislike that black people were excited about it. Rush Limbaugh questioned the film’s politics. Breitbart used it as an opportunity to praise Trump and bash Black Lives Matter. National Review dismissed it as pro-Democrat “hype.” The conservative site Western Journalism said it was racist. So did conspiracy peddlers Infowars. Social media echoed this.
What is so upsetting about a black superhero? What is so surprising — or even more bizarre, regrettable — about black Americans flocking to see a movie about Marvel’s first comic book hero of African descent?
Is it because the movie is political? Because the original character introduced by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, two Jewish New Yorkers, was always political. One would also reasonably expect for popular black political issues and perspectivesto appear in the movie.
Was the anger because there is a racial component to the film? Because Lee and Kirby’s purpose in creating this character in 1966 was specifically to better reach black audiences. They certainly accomplished that over the weekend.
Because black kids should have their own superheroes. Those comic book good guys should also be non-black children’s heroes, too. Little girls should have their own superheroes. Those fictional female characters can also be boys’ heroes, too. Catholics once got their own president, who also belonged to the country-at-large. Philadelphians recently got their own Super Bowl-winning team, though the Eagles’ victory was cheered by many nationwide. Excited Slovenians even now have their own American First Lady.