• Not to mention the focus on natural, African hair, which is a rare sight in Hollywood movies. (Marvel/ Walt Disney)Source: Marvel/ Walt Disney
"When I read Mendelson’s piece, I immediately said what I thought he was thinking as he wrote this: 'Oh, my God. The black people are ruining everything'.”
Sarah Malik

22 Mar 2018 - 4:28 PM  UPDATED 23 Mar 2018 - 9:08 AM

A Forbes writer has come under fire for comparing the box office blockbuster Black Panther to a steamrolling tentpole 'victimising' other movies.

The film is helmed by a black director and all-black cast and has been widely lauded for its depiction of strong, powerful African-American characters, both male and female.

The opinion piece, written by Scott Mendelson and originally labelled “Box Office: ‘Black Panther’ Has Become Hollywood’s Worst Nightmare,” expresses concern at the success of the film 'stealing' from box office sales of other season studio releases. 

"Black Panther is already the first movie since Avatar in 2009-10 to top the weekend box office for five frames in a row. Heck, it’s only the 11th movie in 30 years to do so," the article begins. 

"This is an entire pre-summer slate of would-be event movies getting steamrolled by one very big tentpole," Mendelson writes. "If this needs to be said, it's great news for Black Panther and folks who liked Black Panther (and what its success represents), but it should give pause to the rest of the industry."

The piece raised eyebrows online, with Monique Judge from The Root questioning the framing the success of the film as a cautionary tale.   

"When I read Mendelson’s piece, I immediately said what I thought he was thinking as he wrote this: 'Oh, my God. The black people are ruining everything'.” 

The film, set in the fictional Wakanda, has been labelled a breakthrough for African-American storytellers and artists and films who often struggle to get funding in Hollywood.

Mendelson has responded to the criticism, blaming his 'colourful prose'. The headline has also since been changed to "Box Office: 'Black Panther' should terrify every Hollywood studio".

The controversy mirrors similar combative reactions to the rise of brown and black artists and performers in Australia.

For example, in 2016 Gold-Logie winning television presenter Waleed Aly faced criticism from right-wing commentators on his eligibility in being nominated for Australia's top television honour helming Channel Ten's The Project.

This was despite his co-host Carrie Bickmore winning the same award for the show the year prior. 

While the arts and entertainment industry has often paid lip service to the idea of diversity, the stiff reactions to the success of people of colour reflect the uphill battle artists and directors still face in environments hostile to the diversification of power.

 As Judge notes, language matters and hysterical overkill to artistic work that should be celebrated should be the real cause for 'caution' and concern.  

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