Monday, March 05, 2018

Captain's Log: Benny Would Be Proud

It's a major studio Marvel Superhero movie with a black African hero, a largely black cast, a black director and writer--not only was this movie made and released, it quickly broke records at the box office.  

Black Panther is an immense success. Released in 2018, it is already a favorite in several categories for next year's Academy Awards.

Benny Russell would be proud. Benny was the 1953 science fiction writer who imagined Ben Sisko as captain of a space station in the famous DS9 episode "Far Beyond the Stars," with Avery Brooks starring and directing.  Prejudice stifled him.

Benny would also take note of Ta-Nehisi Coates, an award-winning journalist and author, who recently has been writing for the Black Panther comic books.  It was just announced that he will be writing a story for the Captain America comics, the first black writer to get that assignment.

There's been a troublesome trend building for the past 20 years or so but becoming highly charged and visible the past few years, of a vocal group of gamers and fans, including Star Wars and Star Trek fans, with belligerent racist and anti-women demands,trying to force their twisted conceptions on everyone else through bullying, boycotts and other tactics.  These along with the most extreme online trolls have injected poison into the process.

Star Wars and Star Trek, and the Marvel and DC superhero movies, have all become massive "franchises" with billions of dollars at stake.  And they have become increasingly sensitive to fandom, sometimes appearing to be making creative decisions based on what's popular with the most vocal groups of fans. (Which is something that Gene Roddenberry said very plainly that he would not do.)

Fortunately, and almost against expectation, these franchises have not pulled back in the areas of diversity and equality.  Star Wars films and the latest Star Trek TV series feature prominent non-white and non-male characters.  And the superhero franchises especially have proven that these white and male supremacist bullies are not representative.

DC had its biggest superhero hit, both critically and at the box office, with Wonder Woman.  Marvel is now enjoying its biggest critical and box office success with Black Panther, and it's not nearly over.

Benny--and his fellow writer Kay Eaton-- would be overjoyed by this, too.

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