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The Importance of Movies Like “Black Panther” and “A Wrinkle in Time” []


The hype surrounding Black Panther has been as hyperbolic as any feat its characters might perform, with the film being praised for its layered story and what’s been described as its “Afrofuturist” cast. And Black Pantherwill be joined by A Wrinkle in Time, another film with blockbuster potential and an interracial cast.

But no matter how much money or how many awards films like Black Panther and A Wrinkle in Time amass, our research strongly suggests another reason they’re important: Children need a diverse universe of media images. And for the most part, they haven’t had one.

Some progress, but …

In the 1970s, Boston University communications professor F. Earle Barcus began publishing the results of content analyses he had conducted on children’s television. His findings showed large disparities between the numbers of male and female characters and between the numbers of white and non-white characters. In a 1983 study, Barcus analyzed more than 1,100 characters in 20 children’s television programs and found that only 42 were black. Just 47 others belonged to some group other than white.

[For more on this story by Jennifer Burton, Julie Dobrow &Calvin Gidney, go to]

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