The Black Panther opens today, and all signs indicate that the latest Marvel superhero film—full disclosure: I am sick to death of them all—will be the blockbuster Hollywood so desperately needs. But because this is increasingly a race-obsessed, silly place, and the New York Times is its oracle, we were told a few days a go that the popularity of a black superhero will create an ethical dilemma: Can white kids ethically wear Black Panther masks, costumes, and accoutrements? Would that be cultural appropriation? A return to blackface?
Your somewhat differently conceived Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz Of The Day query is this:
Is the Times seriously raising this issue as mind-meltingly stupid and obnoxious as I think is?
Interestingly, the worthiness of the issue is neatly dispensed with at the very beginning of the essay by Sterling K. Brown, one of the stars of “Black Panther,” who is quoted at saying that he would be thrilled at the prospect of white children, dressing up as the title character this Halloween. “The first time I see a little kid, a white kid, dressed up as Black Panther, I’m taking a picture,” he said. “You better believe I’m taking a picture, because that’s the crossover.”
Bingo.. And that’s where the entire manufactured “cultural appropriation” offense falls apart into little, stupid chunks. Cross-racial, cross-ethnic adoption of heroes, traditions, arts and symbols is healthy. It is also a compliment, not some kind of insult or act of disrespect. It represents progress. It is the essence of the melting pot, and one of America’s Big Ideas.
If you have a different answer to the quiz, I’ll be fascinated to read it.
Pointer: Jonathan Turley