While it is an unprecedented success and a game changer for Marvel, Ryan Coogler's Black Panther maintained the studio's tried and true formula of incorporating plenty of comedy in with the action. Black Panther has many laugh out loud moments, and most of them come from Letitia Wright's Shuri. One of Shuri's standout moments was when T'Challa came to her lab rocking some royal flip flops, and upon seeing them, she exclaimed "What are those?!" Well, apparently this is a reference to a meme, and the meme's creator is none too happy about its inclusion in the film. Busco, aka Brandon Moore, spoke about his reaction to the scene, saying:
Well, that's a bit extreme. Busco is upset that the meme gained such popularity, and because his name and face weren't attached to it, he wasn't able to monetize it. The origin of the meme came in 2015 when he was recording a friend being arrested and he approached a police officer and remarked on the officer's choice in footwear by uttering the now famous phrase. The phrase quickly went viral on Instagram and Vine. At the time, Busco wasn't concerned about gaining fame from the meme, but his opinion has changed. He now regrets that he didn't pursue a copyright in order to better monetize his creation. So it sounds like whenever he sees it now, including in Black Panther, it feels like a missed opportunity and money lost.
While Busco is sick at the inclusion of his meme in Black Panther, the police officer, Sergeant. Sean Fenner, who was the subject of such shoe game ridicule, is actually proud of the memory and its inclusion in the film. The moment wasn't just for laughs, though. Director Ryan Coogler told The Huffington Post that the moment was also meant to tell the audience something about Shuri. She rarely leaves Wakanda and her connection to the outside world is through the digital realm, thus referencing a three-year-old meme is the kind of thing she would do.
I get that Busco is upset because he didn't really benefit from something that he created becoming popular, but I question how much of a difference pursuing copyright protection at the time would have made. If that even is something you can copyright, the internet has a short memory, and that meme was eventually usurped by "Damn Daniel" and any number of other things. Maybe those internet dollars are enough to retire off one popular meme, but maybe not. I doubt that it would still be super relevant in 2018 if it wasn't included in Black Panther. And if Disney would have had to pony up money to him to use it, it probably wouldn't have been included at all. Now at least his creation is immortalized in a beloved film, even if his name isn't attached to it.
You can see Shuri owning that line in Black Panther in theaters now, and she'll deliver some more humor when Avengers: Infinity War hits theaters on April 27. For all the latest on whether memes are art, stay tuned to CinemaBlend.
Nick grew up in Maryland has degrees in Film Studies and Communications. His life goal is to walk the earth, meet people and get into adventures. He’s also still looking for The Adventures of Pete and Pete season 3 on DVD if anyone has a lead.
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