Black Panther shining example of new school media

Toluwalase Solomon, Columnist

The “Black Panther” super hero movie is a “hot cake” in film houses as I write this column.

The movie is fascinating, liberating and a great one.  From the communicative perspective, I will term this phenomenal marvel production directed by Ryan Coogler as “new school media” because of the way it refines media framing and influences a wide audience to make sense of the world around them. 

It is no doubt that television is a powerful source of knowledge because it shapes thoughts and influences perceptions. To be conscious of who we are and to make sense of the real world, we should make efforts to critique contents of the media we expose ourselves to because they contain myriad details that systematically influences the way we perceive things.

The movie counters the normative ideals and false representation of Africa in the media. What can a continent of farmers contribute to the world?

This question was posed in a scene of the movie by a united nations executive. This question depicts the widely negative perception of African countries which in turn stereotypically and psychologically marginalizes products and contributions of the continent to the development of the world.

That scene triggered my brain to flashback to a period when I watched an episode of The Office. In this episode, there was an argument between the co-workers on making a decision to buy chairs or a new copier for work. In settling this dispute, the boss, Michael Scott aka Steve Carell, tells his employees that rather than complaining they should appreciate what they have.

To clarify what he meant, he asks and concludes, ‘’You think kids in Africa have chairs? No. They sit in big piles of garbage.”

Wonderfully, the movie used the narratives and story of Wakanda, the promises land, to project Africa in a good light, expunge its Eurocentric misconceptions and pinpoint the dangers in muting minorities in policy decision making.

The kingdom of Wakanda was represented in the movie as one that is naturally endowed with the spiritual divine, super humans, strength and instinct. Also, the movie helps us to think progressively with its efforts to re-shape the identity of women and black sexuality in a new dimension. 

Interestingly, “Black Panther” described women as warriors, as strong and as assertive individuals.  I was shocked at the amazing insight that came through the third time I saw the movie.

What I took away from the movie is that Life cannot be contained. Life breaks free and life will always find a way. This was clearly expressed in the narratives of the heroic scene when the super hero journeyed to Sambisa Forest in Nigeria where a lot of young females were kidnapped and  held captive.

Nakia aka Lupita Nyong’o, a lady abandoned in the thick dark forest was saved by the super hero and in the end she became a queen that gave wise content to her husband on how to rule a kingdom where love and protection prevails.

This narrative showcases that the Black Panther’s mission is one that includes various experiences of females in the world across race and ethnicities.  Those include victims of rape, trafficking and prey for military cannibalism. In conclusion, the movie reframed the United Nations to the “Unified Nations” in an extra scene, which symbolizes the need for unity  and equality to prevail in the world. The super hero said we need to make the world a better place and we should all take the endeavor to look out for each other like brothers and sisters and live as if we are one tribe.

Toluwalase Solomon is a grad student in communication studies. He can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]