The Marvel Black Panther film looks nice. Black people are beautiful, what do you want me to say? Black is ever so beautiful. But…that’s the way Marvel wants it to look. Like anything the media flashes in your face.
Recently, I was asked about my thoughts on the upcoming movie. It was pointless to have this conversation with a passive, sleep-walking through life kind of person but I answered the question honestly. As usual, this sister let her silence speak. Either having nothing to say or treating me like a militant, angry Black woman without a real and actual cause. Don’t ask if you don’t really want to know. Most people don’t. They are not woke. I did not elicit an excited, simple answer so this person turned their brain off.
No offense to all these fine, upstanding, not-white actors, but how am I supposed to support a film wholeheartedly when I know Black people do not control the images and characters that I’m seeing and expected to endorse? Aren’t Black people’s bodies, culture, and voices in the media just used as avatars for whites to manifest their destiny, their perceptions, onto to the masses? White people have been manipulating images and perception across continents and lining their pockets with their exploitations for hundreds of years. Should I, should you, view the Black Panther film as any different?
I have written before about Marvel’s X-Men co-opting and appropriating from the Black Power Movement and the Black struggle. It seems we will allow anyone to represent us regardless of who they are and how they’re doing it as long as we’re not invisible. But that isn’t enough anymore. Not to me.
Some Black viewers and Black Marvel fans may be a little too obsessed with representation. Obsessed to the point that they no longer care where it comes from.
Everything that can go wrong in a space movie about life from Mars or other planets did go wrong in Life. The producers and writers didn’t defy any tropes with this one.
Life is truly true to its Hollywood film type/genre. Not to say that there is no hostile life the universe. Only that why does every life form that potentially exists in the universe other than human life have to be portrayed as completely hostile or completely docile?
It isn’t like white Europeans have a great track record with people from other nations, including their own. So I guess, as a film drenched in white ideologies, that it stands to reason that their enmity towards “the other” on Earth is reflected in their ideas about and portrayals of other life in the universe. Everything that is not them is a threat or it simply excites them to perceive the other as a threat and that’s the Hollywood selling point.
Your imaginations are pitiful.
Watched the DC Wonder Woman movie, starring Gal Gadot. I gotta say, I was something very much like pleasantly surprised. Her theme music is on point, with Hans Zimmer involved. What I appreciated most was the handling of Diana’s personality. But first–
These are the major issues I had with the film:
- That love interest guy, Steve Trevor (played by Chris Pine), isn’t necessary. As a guy like him usually isn’t. Really? You’re fighting the god of War and you’re too busy getting upset over your your boyfriend’s oh-so-noble sacrifice to get your head in the fight? Just straight-up wailing at the heavens, are we. Annoying, you’ve known that guy for all of about five seconds, Diana.
- Black Amazons are relegated to background characters. They are kind of treated like part of the scenery. Though I will admit I was pleased to see them there because I’m getting old, racism is still tiring, and simple representation is occasionally nice and all that.
- Doctor Poison is problematic for reasons I don’t want to examine too closely.
- Glamour and supermodels–because people who aren’t beauty queens can’t be super heroes. I get it, that’s the industry’s idea of beauty and worth. Whatever.
Other than recognizing her when I see her, I don’t know much about comic book and previous television or film portrayals of Wonder Woman. What I like about this 2017 film’s Wonder Woman is how I identity with her principles, the sense of nobility in her actions and thoughts. For the most part, she is not a woman sitting around waiting to be saved or sacrificing her beliefs and things she cares about for a boy. Her outrage and general feelings about the world of men is a little bit how I feel just about every day. Diana is compassionate, intelligent, and powerful. And I liked seeing her fight, honestly. She did her thing, it wasn’t reckless and she fought to right wrongs, not “just because”.
Overall, I left the film feeling a little more pleased than I normally would. And that’s saying something.
Spy, starring Melissa McCarthy…
I can’t believe I’m saying this.
I think I kind of…liked it.
Arguably, the writing of Spy was more true to satire (than, for example, a show like Family Guy which I am not a fan of). I read Spy initially as the kind of fiction that isn’t necessary meant to degrade fat women but more draw attention to fat stereotypes and machismo. It shows a fat woman being tough, capable, confident, calling out b.s. to an extent, and getting over a guy she’s attached to who obviously sees her in a not flattering light romantically.
There was a joke about Black people in there that pissed me off but I even thought that was handled in a way that I could deal with at the moment when McCarthy’s character says, “That’s not appropriate” and it was over.
Not to sing the film praises or those of Melissa McCarthy or anything. I never wanted to see the movie because of that trailer they played to death on television around its release date of McCarthy getting that that motorcycle stuck in the wet cement. I assumed it was just another two-hour, thinly veiled attack on fat women using a desperate fat woman to do it. I would stare at McCarthy on that freaking scooter stuck in that concrete with absolute woe and burning contempt.
But even I laughed when I gave Spy a chance. I was glad to just be able to see a comedy, starring a fat woman, and for once just fucking laugh.
Minding my own business, my sister asks me if I want to order a new M. Night Shyamalan movie… I was all, “Oh, it can’t be too bad. Its M. Night. And, look, producers from Insidious and Sinister.”
The Visit is a film about a two children who, for a week, go to stay with their grandparents. Grandparents who their mother has not spoken to in fifteen years (over something stupid) and that they have never seen before. There, they discover a shocking secret.
Where to begin?
- A lot of people might not, but I accepted the idea that the children have never seen even a photo of their grandparents before as a basic premise of the film. As ridiculous as the idea might seem.
- The rapping white kid? Not funny (Okay the last rap was a little funny). I’d want to slap him upside the head even if he was Black. Misogynist lyrics and attitudes–not cool, not when anyone does it. I don’t care how many Black guys you bump fists with or how many “hos” and “bitches” you add to the verse. And this white kid had no flow whatsoever, plus T-Diamond Stylus is a stupid name. Co-opting and appropriation of Black culture/arts will never be a good look, whites. For the record.
- What was the mom even mad about??? One, white people have illegitimate anger issues; deny them even something simple and they go crazy because they’re used to getting what they want when they want it, even using violence to get it–WHITE PRIVILEGE. Two, her parents were actually right and they only concerned for her. Three, she’s so mad she never even showed her kids a picture of her parents?
- Having involuntarily lived with someone who needed serious care for his mental health and oftentimes neglected it on purpose, you can imagine why The Visit was disturbing for me.
- Becca, the young woman in the film, seemed more sad than angry over their father abandoning them yet she gets the whole “Don’t hold onto anger” anecdote from her mom. The movie nears its ends with Becca showing the glowing, nostalgic video footage of their now absentee father playing with them when they were little. As a man directing this film, at a glance, Shyamalan is potentially sending the message that Becca’s earlier refusal to forgive her father and use the footage in her movie was misguided. The guy coldly abandoned her and her family for another and Becca’s refusal to remember him fondly and warmly suspiciously and silently transforms into the same glowing footage she refused to include in her film near the end. And right after a conversation about holding onto anger when the situation between Becca and her father versus that of her mother and her mother’s parents wasn’t remotely analogous. Has Becca forgiven her father? Was her resolve to see his actions for what they were and her own feelings that weak? Or has she imply accepted their past together along with his abrupt and callous departure? The whole situation rubbed me wrong, as someone whose sperm donor was absent until I was a teenager, told my mother that me and my twin were her children alone, and only showed his face because he expected me to take care of him after he aged, as he had used women this way his entire life and has like ten kids. The whole thing sends a bad message that might work for girls on that patriarchal stuff or all into forgiveness regardless of the situation but it didn’t work for me.
In summary, aimless white anger, the obnoxious rapping white kid, the “grandparents”, and that empty slice-of-life crap on Becca and her experiences with bye-bye daddy are the things that stood out the most to me. And that plot twist was the sickest I’ve seen in a long time.