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Entertainment | The film Black Panther could quench a thirst for minority representation
by Lynde Langdon
Posted 1/12/18, 12:15 pm

Fans of Black Panther made the movie one of the most tweeted-about films in 2017, and it doesn’t even come out until next month.

“As the father of two little black boys I’m super excited to have a superhero that looks like them on screen,” said Glen Greezy of New York City, who plans to see the movie on opening weekend along with many of his friends on Facebook. “Other superheroes are great, and I see their movies too, but something about having a black man as the main character in a superhero movie is extra appealing.”

Greezy isn’t alone in his enthusiasm: Early advance ticket sales have already topped those purchased for 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, which until this week was Fandango’s best-selling pre-sale title.

Black Panther—which hits theaters Feb. 16, halfway through Black History Month—not only features an African-American superhero, but also an almost all-black cast, a black director, and a diverse behind-the-scenes crew.

“Usually if you have a black filmmaker or a filmmaker of color, the crew doesn’t represent the same thing that maybe the story of the film is even dealing with,” said actor Forest Whitaker, who plays an elder in the fictional nation of Wakanda, the main character’s homeland and where most of the film takes place.

The movie, set in the Marvel superhero universe, will further develop the character Black Panther introduced in Captain America: Civil War. Wakanda is the most technologically advanced nation on Earth but disguises itself as an impoverished country. T’Challa, the Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), battles his nemesis Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), with the help of a CIA agent and a group of all-female bodyguards.

Writing for Odyssey, blogger Cherokee Washington explained why Black Panther, which originated in Marvel comics in 1966, is so important to some African-Americans: “Black Panther is also a symbol of hope for black communities all over the world. From his first comic book appearance during the Civil Rights Era, the Black Panther has always been considered a fictional character who serves as a form of rhetorical justice for those suffering from bigotry and racism.”

Washington points out that Black Panther and the Wakanda setting also paint a hopeful, positive picture of an African country, different from the stories of poverty, violence, and corruption that tend to dominate Western news—not to mention the vulgar comment about African nations attributed to President Donald Trump on Thursday. Wakanda managed to protect and nurture its natural resources, leveraging them to build a wealthy, advanced society. Though Wakanda is make-believe, it asks important questions about what could have been if African nations had not been subjected to the suffocating effects of colonialism and slavery.

Associated Press/Photo by Phil McCarten/Invision (file) Associated Press/Photo by Phil McCarten/Invision (file) Logan Paul

No laughing matter

Suicide prevention advocates are applauding YouTube’s decision to punish a popular vlogger who on Dec. 31 posted footage of a suicide victim in Japan’s Aokigahara forest, a place known for drawing people who want to take their own lives.

Logan Paul’s video racked up 6 million views in its first 24 hours online, but a virulent backlash quickly followed. A petition demanding YouTube delete Paul’s channel amassed 190,000 signatures. Paul, 22, eventually deleted the 15-minute video, in which he and his friends laugh and joke about what they’re seeing. He issued an apology and insisted his reaction stemmed from shock and awe, but critics didn’t buy it.

YouTube has dropped Paul’s channel (and his 20 million followers) from its Google Preferred platform, which gives users the ability to earn higher advertising revenue. The company also dropped the aspiring actor from some upcoming movie projects. But it didn’t delete his account entirely, leaving open a path for him to continue making money—and attracting attention—with his videos. —Leigh Jones

Associated Press/Photo by Amy Sussman/Invision Associated Press/Photo by Amy Sussman/Invision Ben Vereen

More bad behavior

Two more entertainment industry bigwigs are facing accusations of sexual misconduct.

Several actresses at the Venice Theatre in Venice, Fla., accused Tony Award–winner Ben Vereen of unwanted kissing, inviting them to join him naked in his hot tub, and making demeaning and degrading comments three years ago. Vereen was directing a production of the musical Hair at the time. He apologized and claimed he was trying “to create an environment that replicated the themes of that musical during the rehearsal process.”

It’s a good thing directors of movies and stage plays about war don’t take a similar approach.

In another case, three more women have come forward to accuse Oscar-winning filmmaker Paul Haggis of abuse, including rape. Haggis already faces a civil lawsuit from a publicist who claims he raped her. An attorney for the 64-year-old screenwriter denied all the accusations. Haggis accuses the woman who filed the initial lawsuit of extortion, demanding $9 million to avoid the legal action. —L.J.

Associated Press/Photo by Chris Usher/CBS Associated Press/Photo by Chris Usher/CBS John Dickerson moderating CBS News’ Republican presidential debate in February 2016

CBS picks Rose’s replacement

CBS This Morning welcomed a new co-host this week, with Face the Nation’s John Dickerson joining Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell at the anchor desk on Wednesday. Dickerson has a lengthy journalism résumé, including covering politics for Time and Slate and serving as CBS News’ political director and chief Washington correspondent. The spot on the morning news program opened up when CBS fired Charlie Rose in late November following accusations of sexual misconduct. In an interview with WORLD’s Marvin Olasky in 2015, Dickerson, who will relinquish his Sunday morning Face the Nation hosting duties, said, “I believe that Jesus Christ existed and that He died for my sins. And I believe that what He said in the Gospels is a model for the way I should try to lead my life, that I will always fall short of that, and therefore need Him to redeem me for that falling short.” —Mickey McLean

Super Bowl sellout

If you’re putting together the funds to buy a Super Bowl ad, you’d better start rallying investors. NBC says it only has 10 spots left. Each 30-second commercial space costs just a little more than $5 million. Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, and Kia are among the companies who have already purchased airtime during the big game. But Pepsi is generating the biggest buzz over news it plans to recreate its iconic 1992 ad featuring Cindy Crawford buying a can of soda at a gas station. —L.J.

Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital assistant editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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