Black Panther vs Django Black Pain Vs Black Joy

I remember having to revisit the local cinema three times before being able to purchase Django Unchained tickets. The story of a slave fighting for his freedom in Southern America by white director Quintin Tarantino was sold out for weeks.

Rave reviews and the Guardian ‘comments section’ had packed out my local cinema with white, middle class movie goers – keen to say they’d seen Quentin Tarintino’s latest controversial smash.

Jump forward six years, again I visit my local cinema to watch the latest ‘controversial’ box office smash with rave reviews… Black Panther.

The audience couldn’t have been more identical but their reactions so different.

I sat through Django feeling perplexed, angered and confused. My experience was in stark contrast to the general excitement and buzz in the dimly lit room filled with the predominately white audience.

Laughter came freely at jokes (even at times when there were none .. use of the N word for example). It was easy for the audience to dislike the villian, the dastardely “house slave” and cheer as Django achieved his freedom helped of course of course by the selfless sacrifice of his German ally.

Compare this experience to watching Black Panther.

I sat through Black Panther in a state of utter joy. My heart was full with the imagery and my brain busy noting all the references and nods to African history, culture, archeticture, religion and brilliance. The complete opposite from watching Django with it’s playground like plantations, dogs ripping men to death, fights to the death (with hammers) and the inconceivable idea that someone would want/be able to have sex with someone after spending a day in a “sweatbox“.

Back in Wakanda however, the political relevance beautifully became an irrelevant normality as the plot hooked me in and I simply enjoyed watching an awesome action movie.

I watched elated. Cheering, laughing and gasping as the plot dictated.

But I was very much an island in a cold and awkard sea.

My reactions (similiar to when I watched the “good” Avengers film) were alone.

The discomfort of the audience was palable. I imagine these were the same people cheering, laughing and gasping as the plot dictated during The Avengers (The good one).

Yet, the crowd was uncomfortable.

My guess is that simply: they were not used to seeing blackness in such a positive light and on it’s own terms.

Our society has created a world where some are more comfortable watching POC being abused or violently fighting to the death in “mandingo” fights than watching a black superhero save the world.

And if that isn’t a wake up call for the desperate need for better representation and diversity in the media and arts… I don’t know what is.

And it seems I am not in my opinion…

Shout out to these young people creating a change, not just talking about it. #legallyblackuk

So I ask you, what have you done today to create the change you wish to see?

BH xx

4 responses to “Black Panther vs Django Black Pain Vs Black Joy”

  1. I agree. I didn’t watch Django or any other film that negatively portraits black people because it is not uplifting. But Black Panther – wow! Absolutely brilliant. Seen it twice, might go and watch it again. Loved every single minute. Well done Marvel! Finally someone who gets it!!!

  2. I can only imagine your island of joy. I had no intention of going to Black Panther because I don’t like superhero movies. Then I heard a podcast on Radio Atlantic ( ) and realized that much more than superhero was in it. And then I read your post which reinforced that interest. So sometime next week . . . . And (if not 100% glued to the movie) I’ll watch with whom I am laughing.

  3. Thank you for the follow. Yes, it’s about time Hollywood came up with Black Panther because people need more than movies about slavery as if that’s all black people ever went through. We were civilized long before Europe. Look at Ethiopia. The bible has lots on them. As well as science, they’ve found evidence older than Egypt. Take care now.

  4. I haven’t seen Django but I loved Black Panther – it was so affirming of African cultures and histories and agency I cried a few times. I think movies like this also transcend the superhero genre (which I’m not usually a fan of ). Sad that the white audience couldn’t see this.

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