Black Panther's hype is on an entirely different level. It is breaking presale records, and a huge box office opening is expected. It is, of course, important and obvious to note that the excitement is largely based upon the black representation in the film.
One Change.org petition, however, is calling shenanigans.
The petition was started by Chaz Gormley, and is entitled "25% of Marvel Studios Profits From The 'Black Panther' Film Invested in Black Communities." Gormley has coined the hashtag #BreakBreadMarvel to go along with the campaign.
Gormley hopes the petition will encourage black people to demand that Marvel Studios and The Walt Disney Company donate 25 percent of Black Panther's worldwide profits to organizations that support the black community.
"As black communities across the United States continue to grapple with issues such as gentrification, police brutality and substandard living conditions, we cannot continue to recklessly support these conglomerates, allowing them to profit off of us without demanding something more than just their products in return," reads the petition's page. "We have the ability to change the conditions our communities and us as a people face, by leveraging the strongest resources we have: our strength in numbers, and our combined 'spending power.'"
Gormley accuses the studios of carefully using specific images and references in their marketing materials in order to stir up hype among the black community. These include the film's release date, which comes during Black History Month, and the use of Gil Scott Heron's "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" in the film's trailer.
The petition points out the irony of using Heron's work to promote a corporate piece of art, pointing out that the work's words caution against leaving social progress in the hands of multinationals. "Gil Scott-Heron told us that, "The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox…" and it will not be brought to us by Marvel Studios in association with The Walt Disney Company either," Gormley writes.
The petition acknowledges that a major film with a majority black cast is progress, but argues that it is not the kind of progress that will lead the world towards a real-life Wakanda.
Gormley calls the film a "symbolic victory," and writes that in order to bring about a tangible, generational change, money needs to be invested in black communities.
"You have the ability to not only be entertained, but to leave the theater in February knowing that a portion of your money will be coming back into your community," Gormley notes. "To not only go see a film about a fictitious country in Africa with advanced technology, but the opportunity to invest in programs which focus on the fields — Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics — that make such advancements possible, in real life."
Gormley writes that the choice is simple: "Sign the petition and tell Marvel Studios and The Walt Disney Company to #BreakBread OR you could simply go to the theater come February 16th, pay for your tickets, buy your popcorn and soda and leave after two hours having seen a good film — and making wealthy companies even wealthier."
At the time of this posting, the petition has collected about 30 signatures.