Depiction of the Influence of Media on People’s Social Identities in the Movies Black Panther and Wonder Woman


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How people build their social identities is based on the images and stories in film, music, TV and other media. How they feel about these identities also comes largely from the media. Because of this, the media is a powerful machine that can help to alter your own perception and your perception of others. The population of our country is changing and the media is more than aware of this. They are part of this change and do it through the format of entertainment. The influence and power of the media entertainment cannot be denied. (1) Two current films that show this influence are Black Panther and Wonder Woman.

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In Wonder Woman, Diana is raised on a hidden island and is being raised by Amazonian women. A plane crashes into the ocean and a pilot, Steve Trevor, is rescued by Diana. He tells Diana that he has stolen a notebook and that someone is planning on killing off mankind. Diana leaves the island to try and stop the person she believes responsible, Ares the God of War. She joins a group of men who try to help her. She meets up with Ares who tries to convince her that humankind is evil and want to kill. Diana believes that humans have good in them and in the end; Diana fights Ares and kills him.

In the movie Black Panther, they live in a nation called Wakanda. Wakanda is a land of peaceful people who have developed an advanced technology. T’Chaka is the king after his father has died. T’Chaka’s brother tries to take the crown. They have a fight for the crown and Killmonger, the brother seems to win and throws T’Challa over a cliff. T’Challa returns and with the help of his tribe, takes back the crown. (3)Both of these films are an advancement in the way that media portrays people of color and of women. The movie Wonder Woman is a typical super hero movie. And although there is not a great difference in the movie from 2017 and the earlier movies, there is a difference in the amount of people that viewed the film. Because of this, another Wonder Woman film is already in the making.

Media is a key segment of the American economy and attracts growing conglomerates. (4) They did not try to make her something she was not. Her values of love over hate and her empathy is what the audience loved. She is still kind but also is willing and able to take down the largest enemies. Sharing the idea perhaps, with younger girls who have been led to believe you cannot be both. There were people who complained that the outfit that Diana wore was too sexy and that she should not have been portrayed that way. But in today’s world, women should not have to choose to “cover up”. She is able to choose who she is and what she will wear. That is where the equality comes about. The movie had a woman director, Patty Jenkins. She is the first woman to direct a super hero movie. The fact that it made so much money will help to change the gender norms in the film industry. Female producers, directors and strong women leads are what the film industry need right now. Because this film made money on the back of the feminist culture, there will be other movies made with strong female leads. Media and culture are prime profit-making industries. (5)Black Panther did a good job in showing the audience that the color of your skin does not matter. That being black can not only mean being equal to white people but even perhaps being better than them. The black people in this film were wealthy, technology savvy and have a military that can match anyone we have seen on film. This movie shows the fantastic world of Wakanda which seems to be a futuristic Africa. They released this movie at a time when black people have had to take a step back in their civil rights. By showing a movie with a black cast, that was not discussing slavery or poverty was smart as it was political.

Marvel comics have had this comic book hero for many years. It was the first time they had a black character in the lead. They did a good job with this movie by having a black producer as well as a black musician that produced the sound track. This was not just a black super hero movie but a black movie made by black artists. This film also did a good job in showing the stronger side of females. Having the army of women being able to fight side by side with men was a forward thinking move for the writer and director. This movie was able to reach not only people of color but women and other minorities. This movie allowed black people to find representation of themselves in a large blockbuster movie. The success of the movie will push other production companies to follow suit. It is important that this movie not only gave screen time to black actors but also put many other black people into roles that may help other movies be produced.

This is a big change for people of color. The change has been very slow in coming. This is not because black people are not trying or moving fast or hard enough for the change but so much of blackness evolving has been limited to whiteness allowing it to evolve (6)It does not go unnoticed that Marvel, who made all the super hero movies, was purchased by Disney. The Walt Disney Company is one of the six dominant firms in the media industry(7) and that proves that a big movie that shows black people in positive roles will be something that will sell. And that it sold to all audiences’ not just people of color. Content creators like Disney make programming decisions anticipating the potential market for toys, games, music and other consumer good based on characters in their films. (8) Because this movie was such a hit, the Disney company will make more of its money off of these side sales. Both of these films as well as well as others are helping us to change the idea of color and gender. It is a long hard fought battle. We are daring to erase the segregating boundaries. The transition should make us stronger, if it doesn’t kill us first. (9)

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