The Inspiration Behind 'Representaton Matters'
With the release of Black Panther upon us, I feel like it is always necessary to remember when films this large in scale are released and what it may mean to children growing up. With this thought in mind, paired with my genuine excitement for the movie itself, I thought of an idea to make a short story about a young black boy being introduced to Black Panther by his older brother. The video displays the young boy (Michael) developing a deep connection for Black Panther, unlike any other superhero he liked before him. With that being said I was blessed with a great team that helped me take this idea I had and actually visualize it.
I think at the core of it all I tried to remember how I was around the age of 10-13 and how I was very much like a sponge, soaking up a lot of things around me that I saw through pop culture. I believe around that age you really begin to form an interest in things that you still love even when you're an adult. Pop culture is always going to be one of the most influential mediums on people in general, but I will say that for a young kid, pop culture plays a vital role in molding them into what their interests might be or what they think is "right."
Whenever I saw someone in these spaces that looked like me, I felt a connection of some sort. As a minority, it's a gratifying feeling to see a character that looks like you in even the smallest of things like a video game or comic book. But when you experience a whole world of characters comprised of black people in the fashion that Black Panther has done, I can only imagine how excited I would have felt as a child.
Ryan Coogler had a very similar sentiment about why he thinks Black Panther is so essential, and I coincidentally came across his interview after we shot the video. It spoke to me because I felt like Michael's story represented what it may mean to a child seeing the main character and a whole world with people that look like him, his friends, and family. To some people, they may not be able to understand why this film is getting so much attention or why the character is so important and to those people, ask them when was the last time there a blockbuster movie so unapologetically black?
I will end this off by saying that I hope when you watch Michael's story you feel nostalgic about when you were around his age and the innocent joy you had. I also want you to understand why representation matters and how Black Panther has done a fantastic job in showcasing that. I hope going forward young black children that see Black Panther get inspired and desire to tell stories of worlds that involve people that look like them and deal with issues that they deal with because if there's anything this whole Black Panther experience has shown is that, we matter!
- Kadeem Johnson