Black Panther Director: I Will Not Boycott Georgia

(Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

“Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler has found himself under scrutiny for remaining in Georgia to work on production for the second installment of the popular Marvel franchise.

While many establishment Hollywood-types and social media critics have suggested Coogler follow the lead of industry colleagues like Will Smith, the Black film maker responded in an op-ed at Deadline last week, saying he believed such a move would do more harm than good for those involved in his project.

While I wished to turn my concern into action, I could not do so without first being educated on the specifics of Georgia. Having now spoken with voting rights activists in the state, I have come to understand that many of the people employed by my film, including all the local vendors and businesses we engage, are the very same people who will bear the brunt of SB202. For those reasons, I will not be engaging in a boycott of Georgia.

Coogler didn’t fail to embrace the same ill-informed view of the law as the rest of his Hollywood counterparts. He pledged to take action in other ways against the bill he described as having “shameful roots in Jim Crow.”

What I will be doing is using my voice to emphasize the effects of SB202, its shameful roots in Jim Crow, and doing all I can to support organizations fighting voter suppression here in the state.

He went on to list the demerits of the bill (none of which seemed particularly Jim Crow-ish when laid out line-by-line, but perception is three-fourths of reality) and some organizations fighting the bill. Coogler then pledged to financially support efforts to overturn the law.

Our film is staying in Georgia. Additionally, I have made a personal commitment to raise awareness about ways to help overturn this harmful bill, and continue to get educated on this matter from people on the ground. I will encourage everyone working with me to tap in with the local community directly affected by Senate Bill 202 and to leverage their influence and resources to aid in the fight for this particular and essential pillar of democracy.

While I disagree with Coogler’s framing of this law and the accusations against those who crafted it, I can respect the thoughtfulness he applied to the situation. Instead of being simply a virtue-signaler who refuses to acknowledge all the people hurt by taking business out of Georgia, he chooses to take concrete action, support local efforts and still support the Black and film making communities in Georgia.

It may not be the position I wish he’d take on election integrity, but at least he’s thinking about the whole picture, which is more than we can say for nearly 100% of the reactionary responses at this moment.