HomeArts & EntertainmentPortrayal of black culture in hollywood entertainment recognizes rich history

Portrayal of black culture in hollywood entertainment recognizes rich history

This is a commentary based piece.

Black History Month influences Hollywood through informing and entertaining people of all races, ages and ideologies. There is a plethora of media that encapsulates the true meaning of February. Black History Month can be vividly portrayed through media, but specifically in movies such as “Glory,” a depiction of the first African-American unit in the U.S. Army during the Civil War. Some movies focus on the Civil Rights movement, like “Just Mercy,” the retelling of the book with the same name, in which a Civil Rights lawyer attempts to free a wrongly convicted death row inmate, and “One Night in Miami…,” the fictional story about four Civil Rights icons: Cassius Clay, Malcolm X, Jim Brown and Sam Cooke. The heartbreaking trial of Bryon De La Beckwith, the assassin of Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers, is portrayed in the movie “Ghosts of Mississippi.” Not every Black History Month staple is a tragedy though, as the hit movie “BlacKKKlansman,” is a surprising comedy about a black officer going undercover within the Klu Klux Klan through phone calls. Movies such as these are some of the many excellent portrayals of black triumphs and tribulations. 

Black History Month can evoke complicated feelings for African Americans because the month is a celebration of excellence but it is also a remembrance of hardships faced by their ancestors. It is truly a collection of moments that can unite different cultures within the black community. 

About 100 years ago, black actors were unable to be seen by a mass audience without portraying many negative stereotypes. Now in modern times, while not perfect, vast improvements have been made. Black culture has found a way to show itself to those who may be unaware or uninformed. Some movies discuss the importance of keeping in touch with your roots, like the documentaries “Good Hair,” where Chris Rock visits various hair salons to show their cultural importance, and “Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror,” a sit-down between movie icons to discuss the slow, but gradual shift in how black people were portrayed in cinema. 

The most recent accomplishment within black culture in Hollywood is the Marvel smash-hit “Black Panther’’ created by the late, great Stan Lee and starring the late, great Chadwick Boseman. “Black Panther” was a worldwide phenomenon. There was no movie like it at the time, and there may never be one that replicates the excitement fans had surrounding its release. The movie made $1 billion before its fourth weekend and at one point was the highest grossing movie of all time. It presented a fictional world in Africa where black people were thriving and advancing in technology while appearing to be a third-world country. The movie blurred the line of what heroes and villains were by showing context to decisions that the characters made. It not only featured positive black representation, but also put black culture as its focal point and main conflict.

The entertainment industry teaches and immerses audiences about black culture as Hollywood has given an option to showcase talent and stories that would not have a platform to do so. Black History Month is about recognizing past mistakes and learning how to improve relations between all people to set as an example for future generations. Even though February is the shortest month of the year, something is better than nothing. Cheers to Black History Month and may many more be upon us.

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