Panther Power or Good old Pandering: Is the Black Panther Academy Award Nomination for Best Picture Merely a Platitude?

Panther Power or Good old Pandering: Is the Black Panther Academy Award Nomination for Best Picture Merely a Platitude?

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The movie Black Panther is on a roll garnering awards from the Golden Globes, to the Screen Actors Guild Awards, and I don’t know what to feel about it.

Here’s a quick rant on how doubt started to creep up on me insidiously.

I remember feeling elated that Black Panther has been nominated for an Academy Award in the category “Best Picture”.  Yeah the Golden Globes, the SGA’s are all great but the Oscars are a whole new level. 

Upon hearing the news, being the drama queen that I am, I erupted in glee screaming a heartfelt “oshey” on the open office floor.

Feeling a little embarrassed, I shared the reason for my joyful outburst with my colleagues, only to receive a well-timed hiss from some, and others just sighed and went back to typing furiously at their laptops. 

I found one or two people that shared my sentiment, and we happily yapped away about how this is a win for black people everywhere and how it means that the academy is recognizing work by people of color. 

My joyful yapping was cut short when another colleague and dear friend of mine, dropped a truth bomb that disabused me of my sentiments rather quickly. 

Her stance was simple.

She was of the opinion that the nomination was merely a platitude, a follow up to the “Oscars So White” hashtag that had cast a shadow over the Academy Awards two years ago. Actors of color had rebelled against the glaring lack of representation in the 2016 lineup the Oscars had put out. The hashtag became a proper movement, with notable black actors like Will Smith refusing to attend the ceremony that year.

My rebuttal to that was that the following year, Viloa Davies won the coveted statue in the category “Best Actress in a supporting role” for her performance in Fences. Mahershala Ali also won in the Best Actor in a Supporting Role category, for the movie Moonlight. In one night! 

If at all the Oscars were pandering, they have pacified the black community with those wins. Why would they feel the need to pander again this year? Plus movies like Black Panther i.e. superhero blockbuster’s, aren’t usually big contenders at the Oscars and definitely not in the Category of Best Picture! As far as I was concerned The pandering narrative seemed a little farfetched.


She laughed, perhaps reminiscing on the days she was as naïve as I currently am.

She insisted that it was in fact pandering. “Black Panther was great, but not Oscar great” she said matter-of-factly.

Let’s just say after some deep thinking, I must say if only for the reason she sited, maybe Black Panther really isn’t Oscar worthy. You don’t have to be a top movie critic to come to that conclusion. Black Panther is a fantastic movie but perhaps we need to think a little deeper lest we get ahead of ourselves.

Yes Black Panther is a more than just a film. It is a testament  to the fact Black people are made of magic. It brings a whole new perspective to the term “black excellence”.

It is also a movie of many firsts. First Marvel Super Hero movie  with a black lead and predominantly black cast, its one of the highest grossing super hero movies of all time….the list goes on.

But let’s be honest, a best picture nomination at the Oscars is a bit farfetched. It’s the sort of affirmative action that can come across as an insult. It’s akin to giving a wailing child a gold rattle in the hopes that it would shut up, forever. It may seem like progress, but then again…is it really?

Credit: Tobi Akhanamoya

Author Bio

Tobi Akhanamoya is your typical millennial. She loves selfies, has an occasional penchant for punctuating with cuss words and wants to “change the world”.

She works as a corporate communications officer at MTN Nigeria by day and by night? Well….you’ll find her asleep on her comfy bed and fluffy pillow after a long hard day of stirring up controversy.

Instagram : @Osione_Akhanamoya 

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