Wakanda Forever and the “Black Panther Effect” in Hollywood


But Carter points out that while progress has been made on the small screen since 2018, “we were already seeing an increase in black leads on TV before [Black Panther]” – seeing shows such as Rhimes’ hit political thriller Scandal (2012-2018), starring Kerry Washington as fixer Olivia Pope, and the sitcom Blackish, which premiered in 2014 and targeted a black audience ” but which still drew incredible numbers from a universal The same goes for the music industry drama Empire (2015), which drew over 17 million viewers in its first season. However, if these various successes have been “colossal where we come from, they are still only crumbs and we need more [them]“, believes Carter.

What kind of stories are told?

Besides whether we see enough black stories, the nature of the stories being told continues to spark debate. In particular, critics have increasingly pointed to how film and television can prioritize the platform of narratives centered on “dark trauma,” from police brutality and lynchings to slavery. . The latter, in particular, remains a recurring subject in American cinema and television: the latest landmark film on the subject, due for release in December, is Will Smith’s Emancipation, about a man who escapes from a plantation of Louisiana. For Gauyo, sometimes “the slave narrative has been so exaggerated, but in a way that has been redundant. There hasn’t been a lot of new takes.” However, last year, filmmaker Barry Jenkins’ 10-part Amazon miniseries The Underground Railroad won acclaim for its distinctive take on the subject. The small-screen adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s novel follows Cora, a female slave trying to escape to freedom through a physical underground railroad network, making the ancient metaphor of the network of safe havens and secret routes literally. used by escaped slaves.

The award-winning series featured horrific scenes of torture and brutality, but unlike those, there were also many scenes of gentleness and tenderness, exploring relationships such as those between a mother and her daughter on the plantation. In general, the focus was less on the slave owners and their cruelty, and much more on the slaves themselves and their stories. For Gauyo, the series is fresh and “an example of telling something in a different way and from a new perspective that we’ve never seen before”.

There is definitely more room for improvement to achieve fair and equal representation in Hollywood. Gauyo says that even though “we have [black people] used to be marketable and show our success in the zeitgeist of television and film, there always seems to be a disconnect with the people at the top making decisions to green light some of these things”. A 2021 report by management consultancy McKinsey and Company found that fewer black-led stories are being told, and when they are, they have been underfunded and undervalued, although “they often obtain higher relative returns than other films. Figures like Brunson and Coogler broke the mould, as did everyone from Rhimes to Spike Lee before them, but for Woods they are “outliers and not the norm”.

“Black Panther can’t do much. We need to have people actively working in Hollywood to be agents of change,” Carter says. That’s something Gauyo also agrees with. “To a certain extent, people watch Black Panther to find out why there’s been a certain level of growth in the industry for people of color,” he says — but as someone who works in Hollywood, he thinks there needs to be more diversity among the decision-makers who give the green light to projects. Research from McKinsey and Company also finds that black professionals are severely underrepresented in executive decision-making positions across the industry. For Gauyo, it’s fantastic that movies like Black Panther and shows like “Insecure and Abbott Elementary are greenlit.” [now]but the fact is that there may be so many more”.


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