Black Panther’s reign of success continues to break barriers, but Samuel L. Jackson believes it’s not quite enough to shift the paradigm of black storytelling.
In his interview with Vogue Arabia Monday (Apr. 10) Jackson shed light on how talented filmmakers of today are changing age-old ideologies that no longer have a place in today’s ever changing society. He also was frank and honest about some of the recent changes in black storytelling, preferably the uber popular Black Panther, which was directed by Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed) and featured an ensemble cast of talented black actors (Chadwick Boseman, Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o). Despite it’s massive success, Jackson believes audiences accepted the film because of it’s hero concept, noting that other films about black experiences won’t shatter box office records just yet.
“I’m not positive that Black Panther is going to change the dynamic of black stories being told in Hollywood and being accepted all over the world,” he said. “It’s an action-adventure story and a lot of people like those, and they’ll work all over the world forever because everybody loves a hero. But not everybody loves a drama about somebody’s life experience – that’s why awards have a separate category for foreign films; they are perceived as being different.”
Jackson believes once films with black storylines aren’t considered an enigma, real influence will start to simmer.”Once we stop perceiving them as different and just see them as good films and they get recognized in the same category, we’ll be laying markers,” he added.
On the surface Jackson might seem a little pessimistic, but he does have a point. Films rooted in the DC/Marvel Universe do (for the most part) well in the global box office. But Black Panther’s cultural backstory and presence of a black cast also set the bar very high for the need of representation and black inspiration on the big scree. Films like Moonlight, Hidden Figures and Fences have also done same and made it to the top of the box office and critical acclaim.
But Jackson isn’t completely doubtful about the future of filmmaking. “The artist community is forever changing, and young filmmakers are telling stories from different perspectives in terms of a world they grew up in that’s inhabited by all kinds of people,” he added. “The fact that they have a certain kind of interaction allows them to shape their stories in a different way than it was before, so they can color their stories with all the ethnicities. They don’t perceive all black people to be criminals, they don’t perceive all Mexicans to be laborers, or all Asians to be the smartest people in the room. Young people are the lifeblood of what is about to happen – and they are all telling their stories.”
Read the rest of the insightful interview here.