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black-panther-2018.jpeg

What "Black Panther" Means To Twitter

By Brian Richards | Social Media | February 15, 2018 |

By Brian Richards | Social Media | February 15, 2018 |


black-panther-2018.jpeg


Today is the day that the movie that many people have been patiently waiting for, the movie that has inspired many a hashtag, the movie that has had fans craving for it like a secret album from Beyoncé, finally drops in theaters nationwide. No, I’m not referring to Samson, I’m of course referring to Black Panther.

The hype and anticipation for Black Panther has been through the roof since last year, when it was still in the casting stages, to the point where it really does seem as if the only reason why Avengers: Infinity War has a similar level of hype and anticipation (besides the whole “Look at all of these Avengers onscreen together, which will hopefully be handled much better than it was in Captain America: Civil War) is because of Chris Evans-as-Captain America rocking a beard that has many women (and a few men) feeling like this when they see him:

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Recently, BlackGirlNerds.com social media manager/contributor Kayla Marie Sutton (a.k.a. @Maria_Giesela on Twitter) started the hashtag #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe so that the many people on Twitter like herself who were excited about Black Panther could share their reasons as to why the film was so important to them.

But Kayla’s primary motivation for creating the hashtag went beyond that, as she explained to Remezcla.com:

A few weeks ago, I noticed that my [eight-year-old] son would get visibly excited when a Black Panther promo would come on our TV, and I casually asked why he was so excited for the movie. And his answer was pure and full of innocence: “He’s amazing, you know? The comic books and Avengers Assemble is so good! And he’s Black, like me, so that’s really cool.” I got up, left the room, and cried.

I have been part of the team over at Black Girl Nerds for two years now and running the BGN socials are a really great way to spend my day. Editor-in-Chief Jamie Broadnax has given me the opportunity to help build the brand. And as a very loud and proud Afro-Latina, I love adding my voice and perspective to the collective. As we pushed out content for Black History Month and tried to think of ways we could incorporate the release of Black Panther, I had the idea to pose the question I had previously asked my son. What I was not prepared for was the response and reaction to the hashtag that came throughout the day.

The response and reaction were hundreds upon hundreds of people on Twitter using the #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe hashtag to explain why Black Panther is more than just a Marvel movie to them. And the following tweets are only just a few of those responses…

(Fortunately, as the hashtag grew in popularity and began trending worldwide, plenty of people using the hashtag made sure to remind any news organization wanting to write about it or discuss it on television as to who created it and that Kayla should be included in every conversation about it)


As you can clearly see, there are so many reasons why Black Panther means so very much to so many people. And as the release date grew closer and closer, the conversations about the film and the responses to it grew in both number and intensity.

There were discussions as to whether or not Black people were putting too much pressure on Black Panther and expecting it to be all things to all Black people, similar to how Wonder Woman was expected by several people to be all things to all women.

There were discussions about whether or not Black people were taking Black Panther way too seriously and acting as if no other film starring Black people and made by Black people had never seen the light of day before.

There were discussions in response to all of that, which basically boiled down to anyone with complaints about the enthusiasm being shown for all things Black Panther need to shut the fuck up and go someplace else with their bullshit. (Which is somewhat ironic, considering that a couple of weeks before the #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe hashtag was created, there were several members of Black Twitter scoffing at a recent article on Eater. com in which the author explained why brunch and coming together to socialize and enjoy each other’s company during brunch was so important to Black people)

There were discussions as to why people were working so hard and spending so much money on providing free and/or special screenings of Black Panther to children instead of taking that same money and donating it to charity or using the money to teach those children how to make their own movies.

There were discussions as to why Black Panther, a Black superhero created by two White men, is even deserving of so much attention or money from Black people. (And also whether Black businesses should just bootleg Black Panther and do their own local screenings of the film for Black communities since there aren’t any Black-owned movie theaters that would be getting money from this, anyway. Yes, really!)

There were discussions in which people actually wondered how much of the box-office take for Black Panther would be donated to charity by Marvel/Disney, a question that has never been asked for or expected of any other comic-book film.

And of course, there were discussions and tweets about how absolutely racist it is that people are happy about Black Panther having no White actors in it (despite the fact that there are two very well-known White actors in the film, who have memorably been referred to as “the Tolkien White guys”), the #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe hashtag is and how it’s proof that the liberals are all about race and how they’d probably be mad if White people were acting like this about a superhero called White Panther just like they’d be mad about White History Month and so on and so forth and…(gets eyeballs stuck in forehead from rolling them so hard)

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While some of these discussions and concerns are legitimate, the rest of them come off as nothing more but variations of the Fun Police once again being determined to ruin the enthusiasm that people have for something that they either don’t know, don’t understand, or don’t personally enjoy or want to enjoy. And once again, those members of The Fun Police are not at all getting what they want and instead are simply being told to shut the fuck up and to go somewhere else with their bullshit.

The numerous responses to #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe are clearly just the start of many discussions that will be inspired by the film as more people go out to see it and talk about it/geek out over it/vent their frustrations about it with each other, and hopefully do so in a way that won’t be nearly as horrible or garbage fire-like as the way so many people responded to Star Wars: The Last Jedi. There isn’t much more to add to what people have said and continue to say about the meaning of Black Panther to themselves, to their children, and to their neverending hope that more opportunities will be given to directors like Ryan Coogler and Ava DuVernay, and to talented actors like Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan (a.k.a. Michael Bae Jordan) and Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira, and the rest of their fellow Black Panther cast members, and that they’re able to continue telling all kinds of stories that entertain and inspire and make people in the audience do cartwheels or their own version of The Dance Of Joy as they exit their friendly neighborhood movie theaters, and show them as well as the rest of the world how much representation truly matters and how it allows so many stories to be told from so many other perspectives that we may not even be familiar with.

And if Black people and other people of color want to be happy and hopeful and enthusiastic about all of that, who are we to tell them that they shouldn’t be?





Brian Richards is a Staff Contributor. You can follow him on Twitter.


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