There’s a newish group out there looking to ruin enjoyment of the upcoming Black Panther movie by Marvel/Disney by attacking the user ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. The group is apparently the same one which caused user ratings of Star Wars: The Last Jedi to dip, before the Star Wars fans took up lightsabers and blasters to debate the merits and demerits of the film. The Hollywood Reporter has probably the best roundup of exactly what has apparently made the group so hopping mad.
The Facebook group goes by the name “Down with Disney’s Treatment of Franchises and its Fanboys.” In recent days, the group created the event, “Give Black Panther a Rotten Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes,” that drew 3,700 participants. In December, the same group claimed it waged a campaign to flood Rotten Tomatoes with poor reviews of Disney and Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The group makes unsubstantiated claims that Disney somehow manipulated the press into creating negative buzz for Warner Bros.’ DC movies, and says it is waging the Black Panther campaign in response
The group’s now been deleted from Facebook, and the event is gone too. The group’s moderator had previously talked to Huffington Post about his ire with Star Wars, complaining it included too many women and included a feminist agenda (he also complained about Disney not adhering to The Expanded Universe, and the Star Wars fan in me still thinks the Thrawn Trilogy should be canon.). The group’s involvement in The Last Jedi is probably why news of their plan to lower Black Panther’s ratings got leaked.
If the group is worried about it being some sort of “black power” movie, they really need to check their Marvel history. Black Panther aka T’Challa originally showed up in July 1966, a few months before Huey P. Newton created The Black Panther Party. So this isn’t a case of comics following politics’ lead, although there was a story arc in the 70’s which involved the KKK. T’Challa is the first black comic book character to appear in a major American publisher, even though he’s not American, but African. So he’s a pretty important character in comic book lore, and one reason why other black heroes like John Stewart’s version of Green Lantern, Black Lightning, or Static Shock ended up in comics, and eventually on the small screen. Black Panther himself has also appeared on TV and movies, first showing up in the old X-Men animated tv show, then in Fantastic Four, and other Marvel animated shows before showing up in Captain America: Civil War, then in this month’s eponymous film.
It’s completely possible the group is just a bunch of disgruntled DC fans looking to somehow exert their anger over DC films not being so well-received by critics and fans. At least, that’s what a description of the now-deleted event claimed. Via Indie Wire.
“Due to the sudden rise in those disgruntled with Disney business practices, especially due to the corporate manipulations which created falsified bad press for the DCEU, I feel that it’s time to strike back at all those under Disney and bring down the house of mouse’s actions for paying off the critics that hurt DC Comics on film and for other parties affected by them.”
Fanboys can be odd folk, especially when mixed with alcohol and caffeine, but I’m not really sure this is purely childish behavior. The better guess is it’s a group of trolls who are looking to cause problems because of SJWs or something, based on their The Last Jedi comments from last year.
One reason why they could be so mad is the fact the current comic is written by Ta-Nehishi Coates. Coates, who regularly wrote for The Atlantic, has been called the laureate of the black lives matter movement by The Observer; authored a retrospective of the Obama Administration in The Atlantic, which was well-written, but pretty much turned Obama into a god-like figure; and was accused of “fetishizing white supremacy,” by Cornel West in The Guardian. His politics obviously raise the ire of conservatives and libertarians, but his comic work has actually received praise from some, including The Daily Wire’s Emily Zanotti.
“I thought Coates’s arc was innovative and exciting and it did an incredible job bringing depth and detail to a character that has traditionally been overlooked,” Zanotti told me. “It surprised me, because I rarely agree with Coates on politics, but the underlying ideology really fleshed out Black Panther and his whole world.”
A fleshed out world for others to enjoy is always fantastic, and good writing tends to overshadow political opinions which can go crossways with the opposition. Chuck Dixon is an excellent writer, who is an out conservative, whose work on Nightwing, Robin, and Batman has been universally praised. Peter David is a liberal, whose writing is extremely solid and widely hailed. Dwayne McDuffie and Christopher Priest probably lean (or in the late McDuffie’s case leaned) left, yet their work is quite good. The same can be said for Alan Moore, who is widely praised by almost everyone for his writing, despite being a socialist. The cream will rise to the top, as long as they’re given the opportunity.
The thing which really bothers me about this attempted campaign against Black Panther is it strikes me as taking the worst strategy used by trolls, and trying to use it against the other side. The hardcore anti-theists like writing dreck about Christians because it gets a rise out of the other side, while some Christians can get a little too “holier than thou” or become completely hypocritical in their defense of certain politicians. Liberals like saying over the top, moronic things about conservatives, conservatives the same about liberals, and everyone hates libertarians. But I’m not sure just trolling a movie rating website in some hackneyed attempt to cost a studio money is really worth it. It just comes off as petty. Besides, the movie looks pretty good.