Uh oh, Disney World may be in trouble over the alleged “whitewashing” of a popular comic book character. The recently released “rack pin” of Black Panther — a Marvel superhero featured in Captain America: Civil War with his own movie coming out next month — looks, to some people, like it depicts a white guy. Black Panther (played by Chadwick Boseman in the movies) is black.
This, of course, raises many questions, starting with: what the heck is a rack pin? The short answer — for the long, boring answer, click here, but don’t say I didn’t warn you — is that a “rack pin” is a pin sold on the racks at stores in Disney parks which can be traded with Disney “cast members” for other pins. Kind of like a game. It’s a big deal… for some people.
Anyway, Disney just released its Black Panther pin and some fans aren’t happy. The issue is with the tiny sliver of skin visible through the eyeholes of the Black Panther’s mask. According to BleedingCool, “the pin seems to show a very light-skinned, maybe even Caucasian, Panther underneath the mask.”
Um, okay … if you say so. Personally, I’d say it looked like a black guy. But what do I know? Interestingly, the original comic version of Black Panther has completely white eyes when he dons the Black Panther mask. No pupil, iris, or eyelids are visible at all. Just a white light coming from the mask’s eyeholes.
Boseman’s version also appears to have a similar thing going on with the eyes. They’re not necessarily glowing like the comic book version, but they are also white. Side note: how does he see? Well, anyway, moving on.
So, if nothing else, the Disney pin is inaccurate in that it shows skin and eyes at all. But racist? I’d have to say no. That doesn’t stop other people from saying it though.
Disney is no stranger to being called the R word. In fact, for some people, calling Disney racist seems to be kind of a hobby. Personally, I prefer knitting, but to each his own. This issue often arises around Halloween when Disney releases costumes of its latest characters. This year, for example, there was quite a brouhaha over whether or not it was racist for white little girls to wear Moana costumes. (For my take on that particular load of baloney, click here.)
In fact, the Black Panther costume also came under fire in 2016 because the kid modeling the costume for online sales appeared to be white. (Honestly, how anyone could tell what race the kid was under that mask and black bodysuit is beyond me, but I’m not in charge of randomly calling things racist, so no one consulted me.)
Of course, people are taking to Twitter to bemoan the appearance of the controversial pin. One fan called herself “EXTREMELY disappointed,” while another hoped that “this is not a foreshadowing of marketing/promotional missteps on the part of @Marvel and @DisneyStudios.”
Will Disney change the pin? That remains to be seen. But if you happen to be a fan of Disney pin trading, you might want to get yours now in case it goes “limited edition” — which is different than “rack” apparently.
Also, if you happen to be a fan of Black Panther, the Chadwick Boseman movie comes out February 16; it costars Michael B. Jordan and Lupita Nyong’o.