White media is casting a shadow over Will Smith

Bad Boys: Ride or DieIt could be the savior of the summer box office. The film stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence It came in first place this weekendexceeding expectations and reviving a surprisingly quiet start to the summer movie season with a $104.6 million global opening weekend, per Entertainment Weekly.

But “Ride or Die” struck a familiar tone in media coverage — namely, (white) mainstream media that focused on the film being Smith’s first real comeback since his 2022 film “The Slap.” Oscar controversy.

Prior to the film’s premiere, several media outlets reported on its box office chances, focusing on “The Slap” as a potential audience deterrent.

Variety asked this question in a Last week’s story: “With Bad Boys 4 hitting the box office, are moviegoers ready to embrace Will Smith after the Oscars slap?” Hollywood Reporter Run the story“How Bad Boys: Ride or Die Might Remind Viewers of Will Smith’s Oscar Slap” focused almost entirely on one scene from the new film.

The tenor of most of these articles — and coverage of the film in general — has been less optimistic and more anxious and cautious, especially compared to other releases this year, including recent white-actor-led box office disappointments like the Mad Max blockbuster “Furiosa.” And the romantic comedy “The Fall Guy.”

They are examples of how white media, at best, wants to focus on the wrong topics and, at worst, wants to constantly remind people of the negative mistakes made by a successful black man.

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However, for blacks, the success of “Ride or Die” is not a shock at all.

Journalist Darrick L. Cottingham he wrote in a post on X (formerly on Twitter), “The Bad Boys movies always do well. Honestly, it’s just a shock to people who thought Will’s time was up because of the smack and direct disregard for how black consumers look in favor of Will & Martin.”

Reuters editor Kat Stafford also commented on media coverage of the film: “The media coverage of Bad Boys 4 reveals a lot of things about said industry.”

Others on social media credit the film’s traditional press release for its success, including its prioritization of Black outlets and favorable personal appearances by both Smith and Lawrence. Candace Marie Benbow wrote, “This Bad Boys press blitz has prioritized black media and black spaces and I love Martin and Will for that.”

“Ride or Die’s” killer weekend proved two things: You can’t exactly predict what people will do with their hard-earned money, and never count out or underestimate black audiences by trying to predict what they may or may not see. “acceptable.”

The “slap” controversy has dominated the news cycle for so long that it may have become all too easy to overestimate its impact. But if these box office numbers tell us anything, it’s that Smith’s star power and box office draw haven’t gone anywhere.

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