Because really, what else could it possibly be? Not only is Black Panther THE cultural event of the moment, with nothing else coming even close, it could very well end up being the cultural event of the year. It’s shattering of box office records has the potential to permanently shift the world of movies away from their hitherto unbreakable obsession with white men as the be-all-and-end-all of our pantheon of cultural Gods.
But beyond all that, while the very existence of the film itself would be a radical thing in this day and age of political and social regression, its very story, character arcs, and themes present explicit, direct challenges to the threats presented to us by conservative extremism around the world.
Maybe it was intentional design on the part of Ryan Coogler and his team, that they set out from the beginning to make a movie with the potential to spark a veritable revolution. Maybe it was sheer luck of timing. Either way, this movie has perfectly captured the Zeitgeist of 2018, and with theater after theater being bought out for inner-city and disadvantaged children of color to see the film for free, I don’t think we’ve developed the mathematics yet to grasp just how much sheer optimism this movie could unleash on the generation for whom the characters of this movie will be their first great cinematic heroes. A population filled with happiness and a strong self-confidence in their own colors and identities is one far more immune to the manipulation of would-be tyrants and oppressors.
On top of that, the movie is already starting to have an immediate political impact through growing movements like the #WakandatheVote drive to use screenings of the film as a conduit to get people to register to vote. Even within the movie itself, in one of the credit-scenes, a practical GOP-stand-in figure at the UN challenges T’Challa’s assertion that Wakanda will help improve the world with a scornful, “What does a nation of poor farmers have to offer us?”
Every movie, every part of our culture, is political in some way, shape or form, but few embrace this as willingly as Black Panther does, and few could change us for the better the way this film very much could.
So if you haven’t yet, log off this site, close the laptop, and get your ass in a theater seat RIGHT NOW. You don’t want to miss a second of this. This revolution will not be televised. It's live. It's right now.
Previously on Films for the Trump Years:
Part 1- Selma
Part 2- Good Night, and Good Luck
Part 3- 13th
Part 4- Get Out
Part 5- Chasing Ice/Chasing Coral
Part 6- The Big Short
Part 7- Human Flow
Part 8- Winter’s Bone/Moonlight