News & Politics

No, There's No Racist Conspiracy Against Marvel's Black Panther Movie

No, There's No Racist Conspiracy Against Marvel's Black Panther Movie
Zinzi Evans and Ryan Coogler at the Marvel Studios' "Black Panther" Los Angeles, January 29, 2018. (Photo By Sthanlee B. Mirador/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

Every so often we see a certain kind of entertainment news pseudo-controversy: “There’s a new [big-budget franchise] movie coming out, and the new [big-budget franchise character] is a black person, and those racist right-wingers are freaking out again. Quick, everybody, let’s pat ourselves on the back about how awful those racists are, and how progressive and open-minded we are in comparison!” We saw it when Idris Elba was cast as Heimdall in the Thor movies. We saw it when Michael B. Jordan was cast as the Human Torch in that regrettable Fantastic Four movie. We saw it when John Boyega was cast as a renegade Stormtrooper in The Force Awakens.

And each time it was just a handful of trolls, authentically racist or ironically racist or both, triggering a bunch of good-hearted people who just couldn’t believe anybody could be such an awful bigot in [current year]. You would see the “controversy” trending on social media, not because anybody was actually agreeing with the trolls, but because lots of people felt compelled to voice their opposition.

Yet somehow, that opposition to racism became proof of some vast racist conspiracy. If “Stop the Klan” is trending, there must be a Klansman on every street corner, right?

Yes, racism exists. No, there was no organized racist plot against Finn from Star Wars.

Now it’s happening again with the upcoming Marvel movie Black Panther. But this time, if the director of the film is any indication, the reaction might be different. Bill Bradley, HuffPo:

A Facebook group called Down With Disney’s Treatment of Franchises and Its Fanboys, whose moderator describes himself as “alt-right,” recently announced its plans to intentionally tank “Black Panther’s” Rotten Tomatoes score once the movie starts showings on Feb. 15…

On Thursday, we asked [Black Panther director Ryan] Coogler for his thoughts on the group’s threat against “Black Panther.” The director hadn’t heard about Down With Disney, but he didn’t seem fazed when we explained it.

“For me, I’m looking forward to everybody seeing the film,” Coogler said. “I’m really looking forward to sharing the film with audiences regardless of what their political views are … that’s kind of where I [stand on that].”

This is the correct response. This is the only correct response. If somebody tries to troll you, the answer isn’t to freak out and declare yourself a victim. The answer is to dismiss it. Laugh at it. Treat it like what it is: nothing.

That goes for most of this “alt-right” stuff, as far as I’m concerned. A few ironically mustachioed nerds with tiki torches want to march against tearing down Confederate statues? Let them. As long as they’re not hurting anybody, as long as they’re just yelling stupid stuff and not physically attacking anyone, they’re nothing but an annoyance. (Burn in Hell, James Alex Fields, I’m not talking about you here.) When you elevate them to Literally Hitler status, you’re just doing their work for them. You’re making them feel important, which they’re not. They are not important.

The Down with Disney page is no longer on Facebook, which makes it every bit as threatening as when it was on Facebook. Because, as cooler heads have pointed out:

Trolling people is easy. All you have to do is declare yourself part of an unfavored group, say something bad about a member of a favored group, and then wait for HuffPo and BuzzFeed and the rest to come runnin’. These trolls know what their targets care about more than anything else: clicks. And people love to click on stuff that makes them feel self-righteous.

(Present company excluded, of course. You clicked on this blog post because you’re a man/woman/other with exceedingly rare taste and discernment, not because you wanted to laugh at the libtards.)

Kudos to Ryan Coogler for refusing to play that game. Pay attention, Hollywood. Just make the movies you want to make, cast them with the actors you want to cast, and don’t lunge at every piece of bait dangled by every troll on the Internet. Don’t be a bunch of rubes.

Come on, people, we’re better than that. It’s [current year]!