Black Panther arrived, dominated the box office and got the t-shirt. People everywhere were super happy and the majority of news coverage showed people exceptionally happy that they were finally being represented on screen. But what if it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
Before I get started, I know that I’m not in the same boat as all the people who have loved seeing themselves represented in the likes of Wonder Woman and Black Panther, nor do I pretend to be. In fact, I loved all the news and the stories that came out around the times of their releases, injecting some real positivity into the doom and gloom that is the morning news. I’m just an average white dude in an odd mood, wanting to share my thoughts and opinions on the role models and life expectations that Hollywood has provided me my whole life.
With that (and all the pitchforks) out of the way…
From an early age I was shown that if I was kind, caring and considerate, then I’d be okay – better than okay even. If I was patient an adventure might fall on my lap, I’d meet the girl of my dreams and in some way, I might be special. But you know what, I’m not, because life doesn’t work that way.
As exhilarating as it is to see a superhero movie, once the adrenaline wears off and you’re back in your car driving home, all you really have to look forward to is the grind of normal life.
During a rather bleak period a few years ago I got hooked on Community – a sitcom revolving around a group of students in a community college. It was a bittersweet time; laughing at the comedy the group and their experiences provided but feeling even more broken inside because I didn’t have those friends nor the adventures that they shared.
It took me long while to finally convince myself that this was:
A. a highlight reel of things happening during the course of a year per season
and B. scripted.
As silly as it seems, when you’re looking up to this medium for inspiration it’s hard to remember that someone has spent hours making sure that every word coming out of the characters mouth is perfect; that the experiences shown are oversaturated snapshots of real life; and the world they live in is constructed in a way to make it seem perfect and enticing.
But even knowing all this, when I’m feeling low I’ll still listen to Hercules‘ Go The Distance and watch Hugh Jackman’s redemption in Real Steel to feel like one day, I might make someone proud of me. But ultimately, should I be drawing inspiration from this? Surely I should be finding someone real to look up to?
I suppose what I’m trying to convey is that you might feel aspired by a superhero, and rightly so. They’re pretty much perfect people, who end each of their journeys as a better person and save the world to boot! But as enticing as it is, don’t get lured into thinking that you can be and have all that. Gandalf isn’t going to bring 13 dwarves over for dinner to whisk you away on an adventure and your not going to get that letter to Hogwarts. Life is what you make it to be… time for me to get making.