Directors and filmmakers have gotten backlash for years due to white washing casts, and rightfully so. It appears the hope of getting an accurate cast of African-American actors seemed bleak, and then came “Black Panther”. “Black Panther”, released in February 2018 by The Walt Disney Co. (under Marvel Comics, of course), is being named one of the best films of all time. The film follows the character of T’Challa, who goes back to his home of Wakanda (based on countries in Africa) after his father’s death.
In early April, “Black Panther” dethroned “Titanic” from their position on the highest grossing films of all time (in unadjusted earnings), taking the No. 3 spot, following “Avatar” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”. “Black Panther” has been praised for its casting and characters, and has changed mainstream film forever. “Black Panther” proves the negative effects of white washing and the importance of POC representation. It also proves the success of movies who get it right the first time.
For example, does anyone remember the movie “Pan”? You probably don’t, and for good reason. People were angry, but not about the director, or the graphics or the storyline. That film cast actress Rooney Mara, a white actress, as Tiger Lily, a Native American character, and was subject to large amounts of backlash. It’s safe to say that its box office flop was due to casting issues. Thankfully, “Black Panther” got it right.
Everyone knows it- boy meets girl, girl meets boy. They fall in love and go through some cheesy love story that makes the repetition of it hard to watch. Every teen love story is the same: they’re both straight, and they’re both white. We get it, and it gets tiring. That’s where “Love, Simon” comes in.
“Love, Simon” might as well be the first mainstream “teen” movie to feature not only a gay main character, but a POC love interest. “Love, Simon” takes the stereotypes of average teen love stories and throws them out the window- and it’s what we need.
Based on the novel “Simon vs the Homosapien Agenda” by Becky Abertalli, the film follows high school senior Simon Spier, who has been hiding the fact that he’s gay for years. When people think of movies featuring gay characters, it’s usually more related to taboo, or it’s some strange indie film with characters who smoke 4 packs a day or party all the time. But “Love, Simon” is excellent in the way that it’s average. It’s a regular story for the regular teenager.
We’re not even halfway through 2018 and these films are already putting up a fight against the movies featuring predictable storylines and straight white characters. The successes of these movies prove that Hollywood hasn’t been getting it right for decades, and we can only hope that they inspire films to feature the representation of the different people that we share the world with. Dear Hollywood, great things can happen when you do it right.