Before the movie “Black Panther” debuted in theaters a petition hash tagged “Break Bread Marvel” launched on Change.org.
The petitioner wrote, “Through a clever, well-manufactured marketing campaign Marvel studios and their parent company Walt Disney have targeted the Black community with advertisements for the upcoming ‘Black Panther’ film.”
The petitioner pointed out Marvel was capitalizing off the Black community during Black History Month, with Gil Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution will not be televised” playing in the film’s initial trailer.
Then the petitioner wrote, “As marginalized groups have become more vocal, corporations and their savvy public relations departments have turned to catering to those groups—to turn a profit—and this film by Marvel Studios is no different.”
So when did this savvy catering to “the marginalized” start?
In December 2012 an interviewer asked director Quentin Tarantino about ideas he once “toyed with” but abandoned. Tarantino said he once wanted to make a superhero film. “After ‘Reservoir Dogs’ I had considered doing a Luke Cage hero-for-hire movie … Then I ended up writing ‘Pulp Fiction.’ My feeling is if I wanted to do something like that, I’d create a superhero myself.”
A week later Tarantino’s film “Django Unchained” opened on Christmas day.
One movie reviewer said, “In Django, you have a film about a superslave who kills White slave masters, slave trade profiteers, and house Negroes by the handful.” Civil rights era icon Dick Gregory said “Django Unchained” was better than the mini-series Roots, and tons of Black moviegoers described the film as “liberating” and “empowering.”
At this point savvy marketers realized there was an untapped “marginalized” market within the general “Black market” and the Tarantino model (release superhero creation on holiday) was just target audience practice. The only question that remained was, did strategies for “marginalized marketing” already exist?
Recently, Dr. Boyce Watkins, business expert and promoter of products that teach wealth building, investing, and entrepreneurship to the Black community, got a lot of backlash because of marketing strategies made public by his business partner, Charles Wu.
During a presentation Wu said his niche was the African American market and he explained how he sold educational software, software Wu admitted was basic and not special. Wu stated he pushed the product as part of a movement for change. It’s packaged as a secular faith and Wu gave an example of an advertising campaign used by Dr. Boyce Watkins that announced: Black Economic Power needs to become a second religion. In other words, the “marginalized” aren’t born in sin, they are born in White supremacy, and they can purchase Dr. Watkins’ business products for deliverance.
Now, the petitioner is most likely aware of the Tarantino model and the Watkins/Wu model, but the petitioner only found a problem with the multi-million dollar Marvel/Disney model, and, of course, is petitioning for the “Black community” to receive 25 percent of the profits. (But the petitioner doesn’t find a problem with organizing a “marginalized mafia” to shake down the non-Black creators of the entire enterprise.)
The marketing isn’t the problem, it’s the self-concept of the target audience.
It seems the “marginalized” only see the malevolence of “White supremacy” from the Alt-right and they are blind to the benevolent racism of progressives. The progressives might reject the hierarchy of “White supremacy” but they do believe in being benefactors to “the poor,” “the oppressed,” “the marginalized,” and the “culturally deprived” who want to purchase “empowerment” or feel “liberated.” If these self-concepts didn’t exist, neither would these marketing strategies.
The marketer’s motto is: The target audience and their money will soon be departed, especially if it’s a “marginalized group” waiting for superman, or in this case, “Black Panther.”
(J. Pharoah Doss is a contributor to the New Pittsburgh Courier.)
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