If a film is very good, you might find yourself behaving uncharacteristically in a theater. As a black film critic, it’s important that I never yell at the screen, or laugh too loudly, or noticeably bop my head if a certain kind of song plays. As a woman, it’s important that I resist the urge to cry. But every once in a while, I forget the rules and the respectability politics, and I let myself be me. This happened multiple times during my first viewing of Ryan Coogler’s “Creed.” I yelled, I gasped, I laughed loudly and let a few tears slip out somewhere around the last act. And it was nice to know that I wasn’t alone. The white woman sitting next to me, who was old enough to be my grandmother, yelled louder, cried more, and bobbed and weaved with more energy than me during the scenes that called for it. For most of the movie, we were on one accord. But when Adonis Johnson Creed came out to the ring to “Hail Mary,” I was the lone person in the theater, it seemed, head-nodding and rapping along with Tupac, unashamed and unbothered by how it might have looked, mostly because I just couldn’t help myself. A great film experience makes you forget yourself, and can also align you closely with a complete stranger. This is why we love The Movies.

    But what happens when forgetting yourself—as in, your own politics, beliefs and tendencies—is a reflection of greater social problems, like an inability to see the cultural “other” as human? In other words, are the many white people who have been cheering on the fictional Adonis Johnson Creed as supportive of real-life black men who might come from a similarly difficult past?

    Like Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan’s “Fruitvale Station,” it’s an invitation to learn that black lives matter