By the end of this section, you will be able to:
- Explain the role of sociohistorical context, including cultural and linguistic variations, in the review genre.
- Identify and act on opportunities to publish a review.
For one thing, this film can be placed in the context of other films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The MCU features characters from Marvel comic books and began with the release of Iron Man in 2008. In addition to the Avengers films, the MCU includes character-specific “origin story” films of which Black Panther is a part. Characters from one film may appear as characters in other MCU films.
In addition, Black Panther is part of a touchstone cultural moment. Since the beginning of the Black Lives Matter (2013–present) movement, more attention has been called to the lack of Black representation in films and TV. The film’s Black Panther, played by Chadwick Boseman, is a Black superhero who gives Black moviegoers a chance to see a superhero who looks like them. The film also comments on Black poverty and questions whether power and wealth should be shared or hoarded. The film also provides audiences of other backgrounds and ethnicities with the opportunity to witness characters who are developed beyond their stereotypes, as Caelia Marshall points out regarding the character of Killmonger in the Annotated Student Sample. These elements work to create empathy within a multicultural society.
Offensive Language: When Is It Offensive and When Is It Artful?
Diversity in Hollywood
One criticism the #OscarsSoWhite controversy brought to light was about the stories Hollywood tells. Whose stories get told, and who gets to tell those stories? While a limited number of people of color have been nominated for and even won Oscars, traditionally they have been for movies about racism and slavery (written by White writers or directed by White directors) and stereotypical roles such as the “magic negro” (a Black character who helps a White character). Who gets to decide what stories are made into movies became a major subject of conversation, as the people who fund movies are also typically White.
All of these points highlighted the importance of diversity not only on set, but among those who participate in the voting bodies of the Oscars and Golden Globe Awards. As a result, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which chooses the nominees and winners of the Oscars, and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which chooses the nominees and winners of the Golden Globe Awards, introduced measures to diversify their ranks. Despite promises to diversify, however, it was revealed in 2021 that the HFPA had no Black members. As a result, NBC decided to stop broadcasting the Golden Globe awards, and some prominent celebrities, such as Tom Cruise (b. 1962), sent their awards back.
Hollywood has been a White, male-dominated industry. Movie critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, were two of the most influential critics in film history. For most of Hollywood’s history, White men have influenced how television and movies have been received. This situation has been changing, as the Internet and increased cultural awareness are helping to create more diversity. For example, National Public Radio Pop Culture Happy Hour regularly invites people of color, women, and LGBTQ people onto its panel. Their views on gender, race, and queerness in movies and television provide perspectives often missing from mainstream criticism.
Publish Your Work
After you have written and revised your essay, share it with the world. One easy way to share is to post a condensed version of your essay online. Here are some sites to consider, depending on the genre and medium of your review subject.
- Rotten Tomatoes
- Internet Movie Database
- The AV Club
- For The AV Club, consider participating in a conversation about the subject of your review by posting in the comments section of a review.
You can also seek out other opportunities to share your writing in local newspapers and magazines. Contact the editor of your college, alternative weekly, or daily newspaper and ask whether they accept freelance work.