I am a black man. More than that, I am a black man who has a clear understanding of what that identity means for me. And one of the things that being a black man means for me is leaving other black men to decide what being a black man means to them without burdening them with my conceptions of blackness. Unless you are doing some harm to me or other black folks, we’re cool as a fan. If we disagree that doesn’t make us enemies and it doesn’t make me want to bring any ill-tides your way. Black men are not a monolith and we need to be cool enough within ourselves to let each other be at peace.
But when it comes to black women taking kill-shots at black men over THEIR view of what black manhood is, the formula gets messy in a hurry. Marvel Studios is releasing Black Panther, the very first feature film about a black superhero this February. There is no question that this i8s going to be a hit movie- and probably before the first weekend box office is totaled it will be the biggest grossing film by a black director in Hollywood history. Ryan Coogler is directing and this guy has game. He did the heartbreaking Fruitvale Station and the soul-stirring final installment of the Rocky series Creed. This is a big deal.
But out of nowhere, less than 30 days before the release of the film, a “controversy” erupted on social media. Evidently, Coogler’s leading man from both of his big films, Michael B. Jordan was targeted by internet snipers who proposed a boycott of all of his movies- starting of course with Black Panther where he is cast as the super-villain opposite Chadwick Boseman who plays the titular character. His crime? It has been “discovered” that Jordan is (gasp!) DATING A WHITE WOMAN!!! How DARE HE??
These snipers were purportedly disgruntled black women (and some black men) who were “tired of black men getting successful and running to get a white girl.” But the funny thing is that when you look at the accounts that were pushing this bullshit, they looked pretty suspicious. Pictures of Jordan himself as the identifier. No names of a real person who could be held accountable to stand behind their words. Some of the accounts only had a few followers and almost no Twitter history. All it took was a few minutes of clicking around to discover that this whole controversy was a hoax. Just like all those Russian internet bots that kept Tweeting out that story about the Clintons running a child sex trafficking ring out of a D.C. pizzeria. I bullshit you not.
I’ll admit that when I got wind of the controversy I took the bait and was pissed off . I was ready to take some heads. Coogler, Boseman and Jordan are all primed for major leaps in their careers off of this project and the idea of it being boycotted by black women of all people hit a nerve with me and a few other notable black media outlets, Rickey Smiley and Essence Magazine to name a couple. They came out publicly to defend Jordan for exercising his right to date whoever the hell he wants to date without fear of having his career attacked because of it.
But my man Rickey and the sharp ladies at Essence missed the big picture. They responded as if there really was some big outcry from black women about who this brother sleeps with and wanted to kill his career in retribution. Well somebody wanted to kill his career alright (or more specifically kill this movie) and it wasn’t protesting black women. In the same way that those who wanted to fuck with the American election in 2016 just had to hit the right emotional chords in the right social media space to turn people against their own interest, I believe firmly that rival movie studios created this phony controversy and tried to get it to catch on in social media to depress the performance of Black Panther.
This is no wild conspiracy theory when you consider all of the revelations of the Harvey Weinstein case- for decades actresses had their careers intentionally torpedoed by this asshole because they refused to give up the draws for the cause. Weinstein put the word out to any and everybody that these particular actresses were “a nightmare to work with” and refused to back any project they were being cast in. That is now a matter of public record, not some urban legend.
So since we know that people play games with reputations to serve their own nefarious purposes, why wouldn’t jealous competitors try to sink this huge ship that is about to set sail? Especially if you are some under-performing jerk-off suffering by comparison to the kick-ass team at Marvel Studios.
And yes, race is a factor. When Black Panther makes a billion dollars for the studio there will be three black men in Hollywood with a lot more clout than they have today. And there are not that many as it is so this is no small affair. My guess is that somebody recalled how easy it was to execute the career of the great Nate Parker right before his incredible Nat Turner biopic The Birth of a Nation was released in 2016. It was amazing how fast a whispering campaign turned that movie from Cannes Film Festival sugar to Hollywood box office shit in no time flat. Once they got the rumor mill turning around him, got the word “rape” in there, and then got big-mouthed ass Gabrielle Union to run to the forefront of the movement Nate’s goose was cooked. His movie limped out of the gate, barely finished the race and he has been persona non grata in Hollywood ever since. And this after winning every damned award imaginable at all of the big time film festivals. So his work went from A+ with the critics in September to a B- in October? Get the fuck outta here.
So whoever you are out there in cyberspace who thought you could play on black folks’ self-loathing and self-destructive tendencies again or our old-school insecurities about who is sleeping with who in order to take down this major film GO FUCK YOURSELF. I am sure that a few sisters heard the story about Jordan and some white woman and got a little pissed off but for the most part black folks have outgrown that bullshit. We are not about to boycott and hurt each other over some foolishness like that. Fuck you for thinking you could play us like that. Stick to clowning those dumb ass Trump voters. We’re hip to your ass.