A Transhumanist View of "Black Panther"
This may turn out to be one of my most significant posts, so make sure you read all the way to the end. 38D
Guys, I have a confession to make. I know this is gonna be a real shocker to many of you, especially those who've been following me for a while. Most of you won't believe this, wondering where this is coming from all of a sudden, but I promise you it's completely true. Ready? I don't know if I can do this. I'm so nervous, but I just don't think I can hold it back anymore. I have to share this with the world. Ok, out with it.
Black and purple is probably my favorite color scheme!
There, I said it. I know, I know, this is so sudden and it's not like I gave you any signs before now as to my own aesthetic preferences. It's not like I did something crazy like make that the schema of my entire website from the get go or anything. And for those who don't get the joke, you can look back to my old blog from 2010 and see I still use it there as well. Lol.
Ok, enough screwing around. 38D
So, my family took me to go see Black Panther for my birthday last night (my actual birthday being today, but people have to work) and it was the best fucking birthday I ever had! I've been psyched for this film since Marvel's Civil War movie wherein then-Prince T'Challa made his debut on the big screen and they teased its coming at the end. I was only loosely familiar with him from the comics, but seeing that first theatrical trailer ...
Oh my god was I excited!
I promise this won't just be me having a geek-out fest the whole time. If you stick with this, you'll actually learn something by the end.
So, I knew going in that it would be an epic action-packed thrill ride (could have used more action, to be honest), with awesome effects and visuals, and amazing acting from a diverse cast, and it was totally badass in that way; but what I wasn't expecting was for it to also be hilarious and heartfelt. I laughed, I cried. I left the theatre wanting to give people hugs it was so up-lifting.
As a Marvel movie and a superhero movie, it's a great ride, but I can say with high confidence that you can't begin to truly appreciate the importance of this film unless you have a deeper awareness of what's going on in the real world, socio-politically. Unless you have been following the war of identity politics, or are otherwise living in it. It is with no exaggeration that I claim this film has done and will continue to do so much cultural work towards repairing race relations, improving morale within the black community, rekindling hope in people, and helping to #HealTheDivide.
When it first came out, and even before seeing it, I read through many people's posts on Twitter under the hashtag #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe. However you feel about any of this movie or the state of things in the world, I invite you to at least go and do that much, just so you can get a real understanding of the power and momentum this film has behind it.
All the kinetic energy it's absorbing and preparing to unleash, you might say.
That's not to say Black Panther is a movie just for black people. It's a movie for everyone (even identity-less dark transhumanists like me). As Candace Owens pointed out, blacks only make up 13% of the U.S. population, yet the film grossed upwards of $500 million by that point, implying that tons of non-blacks went to see it too and they loved it. That's wonderful! A huge win for the people who made it.
Maybe you're not really that into politics and/or superhero movies and so my elation appears to you as just annoying fan-girling. Don't worry, we'll get there. Just humor me a minute as it's my birthday.
However, the cultural implications of this film cannot be ignored. The comic version of Black Panther may have originally been created by a pair of Jewish dudes, but through its several adaptations over the years, many black creators have put their own personal touch on T'Challa.
Because of who Black Panther is as a character, because of what Wakanda is as a nation, and the fact that the movie specifically was made predominantly by black creators, we can take it at face value that this film is undoubtedly a show of cultural force, with the black community coming together as a whole to say, "We have one shot to make something great, to show the world why we matter, so let's pour everything we can into this and hope it works out."
As a result of that identitarian investment, one can imagine the blowback and loss of morale that might have followed if Black Panther had done terribly. Worse still if, in their zealous lust for diversity, the SJWs of the world had squandered this moment by sacrificing quality to force-feed us quotas (as is so often the case these days), rather than letting it occur organically and in service to the plot.
I think if that had happened, it would have been a smoking gun that we still live in a world that is fucked up beyond repair and black people everywhere would have felt like failures.
Thankfully, that didn't happen. Much like Spiderman: Homecoming, Black Panther proved a case of diversity done right, where nothing felt forced or contrived. This is not the only factor, but is certainly a factor, in how and why the film succeeded. Everything else had to still go right in terms of character, plot, pacing, etc., of course, but in this instance, those wanting more representation got to have their cake and eat it too.
“Can you believe that? A kid from Oakland walking around and believing in fairytales.” ~ Erik Killmonger
The film did better than great, it did phenomenally in fact - better than I think even its makers expected it would, and I had been loudly rooting for its success the whole time for that very reason. Because it's the break the black community needs. It's the win they so desperately need to rekindle that feeling inside that they matter to the world and can be a profound force for good. To come together to work hard to achieve something truly great that inspires others and perhaps even future generations.
A truly meritorious and hard-won cultural victory, more of which is still sorely needed in the world.
Round of applause for you. That's how it's done.
At this point, there may be some of you reading this who still aren't quite sure what I'm on about and why I'm making such a big deal of this. I imagine most of you who fall into that category either aren't into politics, aren't into identity politics specifically, or you're white.
Did I guess right?
It's not that I'm making an argument for white privilege or anything, I'm just playing the odds.
Some of you may remember that one video that went viral in which a group of black folks was standing next to a Black Panther poster saying, "This is how white people feel all the time." I know some of you reading this - particularly anti-SJWs - will see that and think to yourselves of all the ways in which blacks in the West have it pretty good compared to history and other parts of the world. I don't disagree with you on that. That's very true, and yet, there is still a profound disconnect between that reality and how people perceive it. Between what is and how people feel about what is.
Maybe you're tempted to say: "Fuck your feelings. Facts don't care about feelings."
I get that temptation. I used to be that way too, and in a perfect world, you're right, we should be able to speak the truth without fear of how we come across to others. As Ben Shapiro says, there's not "my truth" or "your truth," there's "the truth." Facts don't care, but people do, for better or worse; and it's a fact we have to weigh into our considerations, at least if we hope to be persuasive. If you don't care what others think, if you just wanna do your own thing, that's one thing. By all means, go get after it and more power to you. You have every right to say whatever you want, to do whatever you want, however you want, to whomever you want, short of threatening them or causing harm.
But in terms of reaching people through argument to change their minds, pathos matters.
That's what this film does!
Since adopting the Persuasion Filter, I've come to learn that what you say is only half the work. That it won't be received unless it's put to people in a way that makes them feel as though they matter as human beings.
I have my issues with this particular video, in terms of some of the facts Karen Attiyah espouses, but it gives you a sense of what I'm talking about in terms of the feeling. If that's not enough, let my boy Arturo break it down for you even further:
Still don't get it?
So, having built everyone up in that first part, I'm gonna introduce a little sobriety here for a moment.
One of the things I was dreading going into this was that there would undoubtedly be a "We Was Kangz" reference of some kind, and there was (not explicitly) but ... even well before seeing the movie, I'd kind of made my peace with it, remembering that this is a fictional world and it actually makes sense in that context, even if it doesn't in the real world. It's sort of the same as how Asgard doesn't exist, except the difference is, there have been a number of advanced white civilizations in actual reality to at least stir up whites towards cultural pride.
Same with Orientals, Indians, Mesoamericans, Native North Americans, Jews, Muslims, Christians, etc.
We can readily point to the cultural legacies of these groups and see how they've affected the world on down through the ages in a big way - and a positive way. I'm open to being corrected on this, as I'm not an expert on African history by any means and there's a chance I simply missed it, but I have a hard time seeing the same impact on a global scale when I look at African cultures.
Specifically, I'm referring to Sub-Saharan Africa.
We all know the Egyptians were hugely impactful but ... and believe me, it's with no love that I award this point to Richard Spencer, but when you're right, you're right ... turns out, they were closer to being white during that period. Granted, there are a lot of asterisks and caveats that go with it. The samples are mostly from New Kingdom Middle Egypt and don't account for, say, the Nubians, but then that's not what most people think of when they think of Egypt, so ...
This is, fortunately or unfortunately, the best data we have on the subject and it's a harsh blow to the narrative of there being great black civilizations of that scope and influence.
Some of you are probably screeching at your screens right now, saying that the very article I just linked to says otherwise. That it points to stuff about Mali and Ethiopia and Niger. Yes, yes, yes, but my point is, how has the cultural legacy of those places extended beyond those portions of Africa and found their way into the rest of the world?
Besides the African slave trade, I mean.
Something profoundly positive, like ... oh, iono, plumbing or clocks or medicine or gunpowder, paper, pasta, astronomy, the idea of democracy, limited government, separation of church and State, the ending of slavery ...
I'm not suggesting black civilizations couldn't have done any of these things, simply that, by and large, so far as I can see, they didn't. I'm just as curious to know why as most of you are.
"Cuz slavery and colonialism."
No! Wrong! That's the same entitlement mindset that Erik Killmonger had, thinking the world owes you something before you've actually earned it just because you rolled a Natural-1 on a Fate Check.
How do I know? Because white colonialism didn't start in Africa until the 1400s when the Spanish and the Portuguese arrived. Further to the north, during that same period of pre-colonialism, you had the Egyptian empire, a veritable real-life Wakanda (more-so if you believe in ancient aliens). And again, they were basically white, remember.
The rest of Africa didn't even have the wheel, so what were you all doing in that time? I don't know the answer. I can guess, but most aren't even willing to ask the question.
That's not to say I'm completely ignorant on the subject:
You can point to the Zulu and say they were the Sparta of Africa. Ok, sure, but where's their Athenian half to comprise a greater holistic Greece, as it were?
Where is their Socrates? Their Plato? Their Aristotle? Their Lao Tsu? Their Buddha? Their Confuscius? Their Jesus? Their Moses? Their Julius Caesar? Their Marcus Auraelius? Their Genghis Khan? Their Alexander the Great? Their Xerxes? Their Suleiman? Their Saladin? Their Montezuma?
Shall I go on?
How often is the black community told of the importance of learning and remembering their ancestral African history, yet do any of you have a list of names like these?
Yes, the various African tribes have a rich cultural and spiritual tradition, but we're talking about global and temporal influence. Show me a lasting civilization to rival any of the Greeks, Romans, Manchus, Indians, Mongols, Norse, Celts, Qing, Egyptians, Incans, Mayas, Aztecs, Iroqois, Cherokee, Persians, or Al-Andalus.
Something bigger than a handful of walled cities.
In the case of white European colonialists, it should be noted as well that even then the only reason they were able to exploit the continent came down to a power imbalance, which resulted from a substantial technological imbalance. In other words, they had to have ample stock of resources at home to exploit before they could build ships and guns to leave and exploit others abroad. How were white Europeans able to rise technologically? There are probably many contributing factors ranging from r/K selection to harsher climate to possible differences in cognitive ability at a genetic level going back 100,000 years as is now being suggested - the parallel hominids theory.
However, perhaps one of the biggest contributing factors may well be that whites simply suffered catastrophically a lot sooner as a result of the Black Death and superstition that made it worse:
So about a third of Caucasia was wiped out. If this were human action instead of a natural disaster, it'd be one of the largest mass genocides in world history, paralleling the Native American genocide. Those who survived the Dark Ages went on to form the Renaissance, having massive consolidations of wealth in the hands of far fewer with many of the stupid people dying off, giving rise to philosophy and science and the formation of many values we've come to associate with the Western tradition.
Immediately following this period, you had the Age of Exploration and eventually the Enlightenment, with Imperialism spanning over both of them. The mindset of the white imperialists was that everyone else were a bunch of backwards savages by comparison; but in terms of science, technology, economics, and philosophy, were they necessarily wrong?
We romanticize tribal peoples, but even today, you have many backwards cultures, such as those who punish women by raping them in "court" or who think digging up corpses and eating their flesh is a fantastically good idea cuz muh tradition. If a pandemic like the Black Death ever hit one of these groups, we understand their primitive superstitions would not be able to save them.
Again, I'm more than happy to be proven wrong about all of this; but so far, I haven't found evidence to the contrary, thus leading me to conclude there may not have been any great enduring Sub-Saharan cultures or civilizations, for whatever reason.
I think many black people are probably unhappy because, deep down, they know this:
A lot of you reading this probably have your pride hurt just in hearing me say that and you think I'm some kind of hurtful moronic monster. Believe me, I get why you feel that way and I don't blame you. You see everyone else at the party having a good time while you're left standing outside, feeling alone and forgotten.
That's what motivated Killmonger to be all he could be, because he wanted to be part of Wakanda too, as he felt was his birthright.
I imagine that same feeling motivates a lot of you as well. Some of you probably feel as he does, that if you can't have it, no one else will either. But likely, what no one told you is, you can. Just like no one told him he could. He just assumed he'd been abandoned without a good reason. That no one wanted him around. Has any of you ever felt that way? Unwanted, unloved?
At the end of the day, it comes down to a question of how you choose to channel that energy.
Will you be like Killmonger and selfishly say "burn it all" and make war on the world? To exploit your heritage when it serves your narrow ends only to turn around and then abandon it when it becomes inconvenient? To become, as T'Challa says of him, the very thing he hates and fights against? To view the world through a Marxist lens of everyone being either a conqueror or conquered as W'Kabi believed and in so choosing the will to power untempered by concern for how it harms those around you?
Or will you take up the mantle of Black Panther and, as Nakia says, "Not let the mistakes of your father define who you are"? If you even had a father, which I'm sure a lot of you didn't for one reason or another, and I get that that's hard.
It's why you needed this movie, probably. Because no one else told you.
On that same note, there's one thing I think T'Challa and Zuri perhaps could have done differently that might have ultimately changed the entire outcome of the story. I get that it ultimately made for a better narrative to do it the way they did, a better moral lesson; but the whole movie, I kept waiting for one of them to explain to Killmonger in clear and explicit terms why it was that his father was killed. That it wasn't hatred, it was justice.
Did people just forget that part of their history?
T'Chaka sent Zuri to spy on his brother because N'Jobu betrayed the nation of Wakanda by selling vibranium to Ulysses Klaue. When N'Jobu tried to kill Zuri in a heat of passion, T'Chaka killed him instead. A fact that we know weighed heavy on Zuri's heart and on T'Challa's as well when he found out, but neither of them mentioned this. We all knew it. Killmonger never did. It's how we know T'Challa's in the right and he's wrong.
Young Erik wasn't in the room when it happened, but would knowing have made the difference?
A case could be made to say he might not have believed Zuri and T'Challa. How many people know the truth about black crime stats, about these shootings like in the case of "gentle giant" Michael Brown, and yet the facts don't change how they feel in most cases?
Had they been more honest and forthright with him, though. Had he known - and more importantly, had he believed them - I think it would have ultimately extinguished the flame of Erik Killmonger's wroth, helping #HealTheDivide within him and maybe he could have rejoined Wakanda, taking his place as Crown Prince alongside his cousin. He'd still get a throne, of sorts, and to live out his fairytale dream.
One thing I really appreciate about Black Panther is the incredible self-awareness it has towards both halves of the internal conflict that is being waged for the soul of the black community. This is yet another reason why I feel the movie will help to #HealTheDivide, because for many people, it will be the first time they get a glimpse of what life is like on the other side.
In many ways, T'Challa and Killmonger represent the clash of ideologies in the present culture war.
T'Challa is a nationalist and a traditionalist (what you might call a political conservative). He and his predecessors believe in preserving the legal, spiritual, and social norms of his country, which appears to operate predominately on a meritocratic system of free and voluntary exchange within its borders (what you might call free market capitalism).
There are democratic elections of sorts, with each tribe being like a political party given the opportunity to put forth its own candidate or vote for the incumbent. Four of the tribes choose to "vote" for T'Challa as their Constitutional monarch with only the Jabari tribe opposing him. Their campaign takes the form of a trial by combat, which T'Challa wins and graciously shows his character and faith in the system by sparing the life of M'Baku while urging him to accept the results of the "election," saying he fought with honor but his people need him. M'Baku ultimately concedes and the Wakandans and Jabari remain at peace as a result, even becoming martial allies later.
An argument can be made that the Wakandan Constitution, so-called, is comprised of those unwritten duties and customs (much like what England has) established by the first Black Panther (the Founding Father) and passed down through the ages, which a respect for the sacrifices of the ancestors compels current generations to preserve and protect.
Not surprisingly, all this has led to a highly technocratic society that is fairly internally peaceful. Its healthcare, military, and education system are the best in the world. In the comics, Wakanda even has its own space program and goes on to colonize other planets become a glorious galactic empire.
From what we see, apart from the rules concerning royal lineage, Wakanda appears to be a place of vast equality of opportunity, which naturally brings with it a form of socio-economic gentrification. There are clear differences between the palace and the buildings on the streets, but even the lowest classes can be seen benefitting from increased standard of living by virtue of technology.
There seems to be little internal policing the king and the military have to do, as most everyone appears to be well-armed and well-trained in the use of those arms, while also obeying the law, thus leaving the government to deal with mostly international affairs such as traitors and terrorists.
The fact that Black Panther himself enacts a form of vigilante justice while basically leaving his people alone to do their own thing, only ever really intervening in their affairs when absolutely necessary, and using the least amount of force needed to do so when he does, essentially makes him a libertarian!
He is a true philosopher king, as it were. Binding himself by the Natural Law.
Wakanda itself is surrounded by high walls with a fairly isolationist foreign policy that has allowed them to thrive for hundreds of years. When questioned about this, the answer given is that refugees bring their problems with them and it's often stated that the king's duty is not to the world or even other "people who look like them," but strictly to their own native people, as it should be.
Apparently, no one has a problem with Black Panther barring immigration from shithole countries. Well, almost no one. Nakia certainly does, and by the end of the movie, she convinces T'Challa to open up their hearts to the outside world, helping those who grew up in neighborhoods like Erik Killmonger did, with cultural exchanges, scientific training, and financial aid. And here, I bet you probably thought she was just some throw-away character only met to serve as his love interest.
But there's two important things to keep in mind.
Firstly, if his past experience with Captain American and Agent Ross is anything to go by, it's highly unlikely T'Challa will just throw open the floodgates and invite the whole world in. The Wakandans are wise and know their survival was predicated on closely guarding their secrets from those who might use their divine gifts to cause harm to others. T'Chaka's admonition to his son is be wary of who he trusts, to not let his heart get ahead of his mind, and that it's hard for a good man to be a good king, because sometimes a good king must harden his heart for the sake of what is required to preserve the greater good. What you might call delayed gratification.
Tough love, as it were.
Thus, I would expect Wakanda to act highly judiciously in its international affairs and be skeptical of whom it allows in or sells technology to. Perhaps they might even have a form of extreme vetting and merit-based immigration.
Because let's be honest, everywhere is a shithole compared to Wakanda. The Wakandan Dream is simply the American Dream, fully realized, dressed in black and purple.
Is it really any wonder why anyone would wanna live there? Shit, I wanna live there!
Secondly, and this actually surprised me to be honest, is that for all the emphasis on black cultural identity and representation in Black Panther, Wakanda is not actually an ethno-state. Let me say that again: Wakanda is NOT an ethno-state. It doesn't promote black supremacy or black nationalism at all. It promotes civic nationalism while just happening to be mostly black, much like America promotes civic nationalism while happening to be mostly white. We know this, firstly, because T'Challa apears to have no problem bringing Captain America, Bucky Barnes, or Agent Ross into Wakanda's borders. He has no qualms about fighting alongside the Avengers.
No one calls him a racist, because he's clearly not one (despite having systemic political power).
The national attitude isn't "because we're black," but "because we're Wakandan." In fact, many of the people the Wakandans turn their backs on are fellow black Africans, much to the chagrin of both friend and foe alike. T'Challa doesn't play the game of identity politics. That is beneath him. Instead, he judges people on their merits as individuals, as well he should.
His only bias towards people as a group appears to be a staunch preference for Wakandans, which is partly the result of him being king, but also because that's his culture and his tribe. That's perfectly relatable.
Nationalism built from the bottom up works and Wakanda demonstrates that.
It's the same loyalty Okoye expressed when choosing to serve under Killmonger and in standing against her own lover. A love of country, "regardless of who sits on the throne." And while we certainly empathize with her decision to remain loyal to the system, we also recognize that she naively believes it's working as it should in that instance. This is why we also relate to Nakia in realizing that Killmonger was a corruption of that system, imposing ethno-hegemonic order from the top down, and why opposing him and reinstalling T'Challa was ultimately the right thing to do.
Black Panther embodies all the best qualities of human beings: family, duty, honor, virtue, courage, sacrifice, humility, a respect for tradition, for law and order, leadership, diplomacy, intelligence, wit, wisdom, spirituality, compassion, and a firm commitment to peace through strength.
Contrast this with nemesis.
As his name suggests, Killmonger is driven by insatiable bloodlust and a desire for absolute power at any cost. Spurred by envy, hatred, and rejection, he will stop at nothing to get what he wants. He is not above vandalizing, looting, murdering, pillaging, burning, committing acts of sabotage and even outright terrorism and insurrection.
In many ways, he is the mirror image of Black Panther; their skills, wills, and identities being virtually the same, only diverging based upon their particular ideologies and worldview, crafted by a result of their individual upbringings. If T'Challa represents conservative libertarianism, nationalism, capitalism, and meritocracy, then Killmonger represents its opposite: postmodern progressivism, globalism, cultural Marxism, and authoritarian communism.
Zuri even explicitly describes him as having been radicalized.
In this case, he has been radicalized into that dualistic win-lose mindset of oppressor-oppressed. And while he doesn't outright refer to white people specifically, it's heavily implied by his rhetoric that he's an identitarian and a black supremacist. He often frames situations in terms of "colonizers" and "people who look like us," thereby implying an othering of white people, or perhaps just non-blacks.
He is absolutely obsessed with the narrative that he is nothing more than a victim of other people's past mistakes and has no moral agency of his own, despite actually being quite intelligent and capable.
It is truly lamentable, given all his skills and ambition, for him to be so misguided.
His dying words are a reference to the African slave trade and an homage to those who jumped ship, choosing to "live free or die," as it were. Ironically, a very American sentiment that seems well-matched with his penultimate shift and deradicalization.
Part of me wonders whether Wakanda ever used slaves to mine vibranium in the early days, before they developed machines to extract and transport it for them, and how that might have affected the characters, the narrative, and the socio-political symbolism. It would certainly be a black eye against Wakanda in aide of Killmonger's case.
It would also be another way in which America and Wakanda are analogous.
I rather enjoyed the line T'Challa delivers when he first meets Killmonger face-to-face in the throne room, following the death of Klaue.
He asks him plainly: "What is it you want?"
I consider myself a problem-solver and I appreciate the frankness of the question, because it works to find a satisfactory solution through diplomacy rather than perpetuate an unending cycle of mindless violence. It drives at actually fixing the underlying causes of oppression and inequality (whether real or perceived). Many people are frustrated with Marxists, postmodernists, intersectional-feminists, social justice warriors, and Black Lives Matter precisely for this reason.
We all get that you're angry. We hear you loud and clear when you say you're oppressed and we accept the legitimacy of your feelings. Now tell us what you want!
Tell us your demands, your end goals, in clear and explicit terms - the specific actionable steps you want us to take, so we can work towards fixing the problem, if indeed it's something that can be fixed at all. If it can't, well, then you're just going to have to learn to accept that and move on towards the future; but at least tell us what you want, because right now, most of us don't have a clue and continue to remain ignorant because you won't offer us your peace terms. You just wanna keep on fighting.
I rather enjoyed the simplicity and frankness of Killmonger's answer as well.
He says in no uncertain times: "I want the throne."
Not surprising, given where he started, which was nowhere having nothing, to then want it all. To go from being completely insecure to having absolute security. From being totally powerless to having absolute power. It's a very relatable sentiment.
The song Bagbak as used in the initial trailer for the movie even has lines that reflect this same identitarian cultural Marxist mindset. Such lyrics as: "until they love my dark skin, I'm going all in," and "tell the government / the president / the 1% to suck a dick because we own ya."
All of this, however, is merely a symptom of the underlying root cause and the root desire, which is to feel the way everyone else feels. I'll let the Master explain it to you, starting at 33:50 if it doesn't go there automatically:
Recall what I'd said before about the lack of really any advanced, influential black African civilizations? And then juxtapose that with all the praise I gave to black creators at the beginning of this article for essentially creating one that takes all the best of what fragments are available from history and combining them into one?
Do you think maybe there's a correlation there?
I'd say there's a causation there, as Wakanda is basically an amalgamation of that entire culture, combining the disparate aspects of the Bantu, the Kush, the Zulu, the Mali, and so forth in a way that isn't reflected in real life, but which people wish there was. T'Challa and Black Panther are then an amalgamation of that identity in one person, even beyond just the racial aspect.
Is it any surprise that those feeling as though they mattered the least would go on to create perhaps the most significant character and the most significant culture in all of the Marvel Universe? To transform weakness into strength, pain into joy, fear into hope, and emptiness into wonder?
There may not have been any great black empires, but there can be if you come together and work hard to achieve it. We had the American Dream. It's time for the Wakandan Dream!
This film, its creators, and the idea of T'Challa, Black Panther, and Wakanda represent all that is good within the black heart and the infinite potential lying dormant within the black soul, whereas Killmonger is also an amalgamation encapsulating everything bad. That symbolic conflict is played out in the heart of every black person - and indeed every person as well regardless of race.
It's the part of their cultural heritage the black community recognizes needs to die in the end, and is working to kill off, while still offering a way out to those who want it, in part by making this movie.
There are people who actually wanna live in Wakanda. Who wanna build it, and make it into a reality, not just a fiction. To them, I say YES! Hell yes! Go forth and do it. Make it happen! Make Wakanda great again. Make Wakanda into a reality! Make it real for the first time ever! Build the world you want to see rather than trying to take from others or tear them down.
You've already proven you can do it with this film. Take that same fiery spirit that gave birth to abolition and Civil Rights in figures like Martin and Malcolm and Marcus and make the dream a reality
You have places in this world that are literal shitholes. Places like Haiti and Zimbabwe and South Africa that are in such desperate need of this zeitgeist and cultural momentum. Or even cities like Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, etc. that are total disasters. Why not use that energy and reinvent yourselves and the places you live? Be inspired to change for the better!
It doesn't have to be just blacks and it doesn't have to be just black communities, of course. I'm just speaking to them for now because this is their momentum and their time to shine and to celebrate a monumental victory. Just let them have this one. They really deserve it, because they really earned it, and a little positive encouragement goes a long way, especially for those who might not have otherwise gotten it, or who even got the reverse.
Don't be like those fucking assholes looking to camp out on Rotten Tomatoes and down-vote the film.
You don't have to like it, but don't let that be your reason. If you have a problem with it that's constructive, that's fine, make the argument; but as someone who hates getting involved in the identitarian war, let me be the one to say, there is nothing objectionable about this movie in terms of identity politics. If anything, just the opposite, as it's working to #HealTheDivide.
Just because it's pro-black doesn't make it anti-white.
Of course, there would have to be those who just can't let that be good enough, who just have to force their social justice crap into everything and say, "Yeah, it's got lots of blacks in it and it's really diverse, but I don't see any gays."
Ya know what, motherfuckers? I didn't see any transhumanist pagan trolls there either, ok?
And I'm feeling hella triggered and offended by that.
Yeah, what do you have to say to that, huh? Where's my Grey Pisces movie? The sexually-identifies-as-an-attack-helicopter minority has a voice and no on-screen representation too ya know! (Outside of Transformers) You gonna fight for me and mine? No? Didn't think so.
So just shut the fuck up and go make the thing you want. Do as Gandhi says and be the change you wanna see in the world. You want gay Black Panther? Go fucking make gay Black Panther and leave everyone else alone. Stop expecting other people to do the thing that you want. Be proactive in life. Take a cue from these amazing black creators and be a force for positive change in the world rather than petty autistic screeching.
I'm sorry you're not feeling included enough, but you are going about it entirely the wrong way.
You're the "diversity done wrong" group that fervently insists everything has to be universally inclusive of everything all the time so as not to offend anyone; which at least helps serve as a useful contrast, since contrast is a powerful tool for persuasion.
But yeah, the same advice applies to you. What is it you want and what's standing in your way of getting it? You can come with us to Wakanda too, it's ok.
Sadly, Pink Panther's already a thing that exists or I'd say use that.
Or maybe we can all just finally stop putting so much emotional energy into those parts of us that have nothing to do with who we are as human beings. To just instead judge people as individuals and by the content of their character. To stop thinking that the most important thing about ourselves is what color our skin is, what's between our legs, or who we wanna bang.
In most instances, none of that matters. You know how I know? Because I gave all that up when I put on this costume and it hasn't made me any less of a person. #ItsOkToBeHuman
Why history worked out the way it did, with whites and Asians and Jews generally at the top and blacks at the bottom, I don't really know. I wish I did, and I have some theories, but I'm not exactly an expert so I won't go into that here. We all agree it's not fair. You didn't ask for that, but then neither did anyone else either. We were all born into something.
None of us chose for things to be this way. We inherited them. But we can choose how to spend our inheritance and what sort of world we'll make with it.
It's like that line from another one of my favorite movies:
"We fight over an offense we did not give, against those who were not alive to be offended. Who has claim? No one has claim. All have claim!" ~ Kingdom of Heaven
Frankly, it doesn't really matter either way, as that's the past now. It can't be changed. Only the future can. Wakanda's not the past, but it can be the future.
Returning to the exchange ...
T'Challa asks Killmonger what his demands are and Killmonger answers him, saying he wants it all.
To his credit, and against the objections of his counsellors and friends, King T'Challa grants him equality of opportunity. He trusts in the system his ancestors built, imperfect though it may be, to settle things between them in a civilized way. He gives his cousin a gift no one else ever did, because of who he is, not what he is - the gift of true equality - yet because of who Killmonger is, that precious gift is wasted in the heat of the moment and the fires of belligerence.
When T'Challa comes back, he still clings to that system, saying he never yielded and is clearly not dead. The trial still has not ended, and it's Killmonger who then abuses the system, clinging to his newfound privilege and power, abandoning the rule of law, devolving into the very authoritarianism and suffering that such a mindset can only ever bring. Thus, the system turns on him and serves as his undoing.
Indeed, by the end of the movie, both T'Challa and Killmonger have shifted towards the center, being profoundly changed by the experience of their having met, and ultimately for the better. It's a clear win-win, not a win-lose. The Hegelian Pendulum has stopped dead center.
Even though Killmonger ultimately dies, he does so willingly, and having been granted the opportunity to be healed by T'Challa - presumably, not just physically, but spiritually as well.
Thus, he leaves the world, feeling like an equal, knowing that he mattered.
Ok, enough politics. I know that was a lot of heavy stuff. Let's talk tech. That's what you really came here for, right? A transhumanist view? I promise this part will be short and light compared to the rest.
Just let me change gears here.
So, I didn't think I was going to like Shuri at first, but I frickin' love her in this movie. From that first scene where she's dressed in a t-shirt and baggy pants like a fully Westernized girl and then flips off her older brother, that shit was hilarious! Not only is she super smart, but she's charming and culturally savvy as well. Well-balanced between her traditional African tribal heritage and a modern geeky girl.
Next to Killmonger, Shuri is arguably the most Westernized Wakandan in the entire movie, between her pun about inventing sneakers to her mural art in her lab to knowing the designs of American military helicopters for Agent Ross' benefit as a pilot. It's clear, she not only has a firm grasp of all things Wakandan, but of the rest of the outside world as well.
Makes sense, as she is a scientist.
The reason I was originally dismissive of her mostly comes down to an inability to suspend disbelief when it comes to child prodigies in movies. Granted, there are some very smart kids, but canonically, she's about sixteen at the time she's doing all this stuff.
For context, Max Loughan is the world's smartest kid (that we know of) in actual reality. At age thirteen, he built his own free energy device out of a coffee can, which would sort of make him the real-life Tony Stark; yet by his own admission, Max is not very socially adept, and it's clear he must certainly be lacking in other areas.
A far cry from Shuri.
Now, before you accuse me of hating on her specifically, I didn't like it when Spiderman: Homecoming did this either, between Ned hacking Ironman's suit and Peter Parker hacking the ultra-secure vault door, both in a matter of minutes, when Stark himself at that age was still just making circuitboards and didn't even invent the big arc reactor until well into adulthood. I didn't like it with Riri Williams either, but at least she had Stark as a mentor and became her own unique character in Ironheart, rather than just a race-swapped gender-swapped Ironman.
It just strains credibility, as it seems like it's unearned or at least unexplained.
Though, in fairness to Shuri, and unlike the others, she was pretty much raised from birth to be this child prodigy using highly advanced systems in a culture to rival the Planet Vulcan. So I suppose it's at least more believable in her case, even I still feel it's still somewhat of a stretch.
Of course, we can't talk about Wakandan tech without mentioning the all-important, all-pervasive vibranium, which is used in everything from clothes to armor to spaceships to melee weapons to ranged weapons to their maglev hyperloops to even their medicine.
At the beginning of the film, we're told that vibranium likely came from outer space. In all likelihood, the effects of vibranium leeched into the soil, giving rise to the Heart-Shaped Herb that allows Black Panther to assume superhuman abilities, as well as having certain healing properties and (depending on who you ask) inducing either hallucinations or opening up those parts of the mind tied to psychic phenomena, thereby allowing one to transcend to higher realms of consciousness to meet with their ancestors.
As I write this, I have not myself done any sort of hallucinogens in my life, but many people I know that have, have expressed to me a very similar, profound, metaphysical experience that whisks them away to other dimensions. Unlike some, I'm more than willing to grant this mystical journey is wholly possible, having achieved similar results in the past even without the aid of such substances, just through astral projection and opening my Ajna.
Nowhere near the same result, mind you, but enough to persuade me it's plausible.
Fan theorists are divided as to whether or not the Soul Stone is contained within that same rock. Seems unlikely, but if they're right, it might explain this ability better than the action of mere psychotropics:
Indeed, "Soul" is a term often associated with black culture - everything from soul food to Soul Train to soul music to soul sisters to fucking Soul Glo - and so it would be a thematic fit. The Black Panther movie clearly draws heavy influence from pan-African ancestor worship and various forms of tribal shamanism, whereby a priest or warrior puts on the mask of some animal and, in their belief, takes on the attributes of that particular spirit in a literal sense.
T'Challa and his predecessors do this with the Black Panther, whose power they believe was gifted to them by the panther god, Bast - presumably based on the Egyptian deity.
Fun Fact: That same deity is also the inspiration for Bubastis, Ozymandias' chimeric pet in Watchmen.
Such mysticism can certainly be linked to the concept of "soul," as can the fact that the Black Panther is both the symbolic soul of Wakanda - its spirit animal, if you will - and T'Challa is literally fighting for the soul of his nation and its people against Erik Killmonger.
UPDATE: So turns out that theory about the Soul Stone was wrong. I stopped just shy of predicting it, but wanted to acknowledge it here all the same.
Of course, we also can't talk about Black Panther without mentioning the really awesome vehicles!
The artist in me is super giddy about the designs. You have ones that look like giant dragonflies, and even the main hovercraft that Okoye pilots - if you look at it from the bottom - appears like an African tribal mask in frontal view:
Tell me I'm not the only one who thinks it looks like that.
A number of years ago, a man by the name of Bob Lazar made claims to have worked on a Top Secret research facility known as S-4 near the site of Area 51. In particular, he claimed to have worked on what appeared to be alien space craft with anti-gravity propulsion technology, not unlike the kind used by the Wakandans. He also claims to have reverse engineered some of it to discover that the technology works through some application of eka-bismuth to a solenoid that can distort gravity fields, thus allowing the ship to "slide down hill" in the direction of the field.
In 2016, eka-bismuth was renamed to Moscovium.
Given that we know light bends due to the force of gravity (whether around a star or a black hole), this could also be tied to extraterrestrial cloaking technology as well.
I'm not a black-ops engineer, so I can't say whether or not Lazar's theory is correct, but it's certainly still interesting to talk about. The mechanism Lazar describes is strikingly similar to the arc reactor Tony Stark built in Ironman 2 using a metal he rediscovered by building a miniature Hardon Collider in his house. The effect is also very similar to the cloaking hovercrafts used in Wakanda.
Moscovium is predicted to have a number of the same properties as other elementss in its column, including bismuth; which, just looking through the list of applications, seems like it'd be an uncanny fit. Bismuth has a density close to lead without being as toxic, meaning it might make decent armor. It's used in explosives (so weaponry), in medicine, in semiconductors, and certain forms of cosmetics.
So while it may not pass for vibrabnium, it's still a really close fit.
In watching the trailer, I was really curious to see how T'Challa would ultimately defeat Killmonger, given they both had equivalent suits that were basically impenetrable. That intrigue then piqued upon learning that the suits had the capability to absorb kinetic energy, essentially making any and all attacks basically futile.
What was interesting was learning that Shuri had found a way to suppress the effects of vibranium. At that point, it became fairly obvious they'd be fighting down on the hyperloop essentially as men; and ultimately, the manner in which T'Challa killed him was fairly privitve - a simple spear through the heart.
I could talk a lot about the fascinating interweaving of futuristic tech and primitivism all throughout this movie, but I think most people can readily notice that one, right?
So instead, I'm gonna propose a theory that may be more novel.
As its name suggests, vibranium's main properties likely all center around one thing: vibration.
All things in the universe are ultimately a form of energy, which exist as waves vibrating at a particular frequency and with a particular wavelength. Matter would then, to put it simply, just be a really dense and slow-moving form of light.
Captain American's shield emits concussive force when it hits things while also absorbing impacts from explosions and bullets, much like Black Panther's suit. This could be less of a metallic property and more a property of electromagnetism, wherein the uniqueness of vibranium, and perhaps the Infinity Stones as well, has to do with the particular frequency at which they oscillate.
The various holograms and maps throughout the movie and the vehicle simulator in Shuri's lab all kind of remind me of cymatics, wherein frequencies of sound (or some other type of wave) are applied to particles, creating various patterns and animations defending on the specific pitch and frequency:
The Wakandans use EMPs and transmittors made of vibranium fairly regularly, as well as plasma shields, all of which depend on electromagnetism. Klaue's arm cannon is basically an EMF emitter much like Ironman's palm blasters. This might also be related to the strange vibrating Bucky Barnes induced in his metallic arm as the Winter Soldier, or to the Pym Effect that drives the size-altering powers of Antman and Wasp. That the change in space between atoms might have something to do with subjecting them to particular electromagnetic frequencies. That may be how Shuri stops the suit's effect as well.
Ostensibly, with Wakanda opening up to the world, vibranium will likely be a more common occurrence in future Marvel movies.
We know the Aether and the Tesseract allow the creation of portals between realms, essentially ripping holes in the fabric of space time - something we've already seen Thanos is capable of doing. The Heart-Shaped Herb / Soul Stone might also operate in a similar way, using certain frequencies to reach alternate dimensions. The human body itself is nothing more than a collection of particles operating at different frequencies, with each cell type and organ type also having its own frequency.
That could be the basis for the enhanced physical abilities, the healing properties of vibranium, and even Loki's Mind Stone.
When Tony Stark first plugs his vibranium core into his heart in Ironman 2, one of the effects he feels is an immediate boost of energy and a removal of the toxic heavy metals from his body. The effect is almost immediate, much like the transmutation effects of consuming and eliminating vibranium from the Heart-Shaped Herb, with similar black liquid coursing visibly through the veins. If that's indeed how it works, it wouldn't be surprising that Wakandans could be such gifted healer, given their familiarity with vibranium and its properties. The speed of recovery also harkens back to Agent Ross' incredulity at how quickly Shuri was able to heal his spinal injury after their encounter with Killmonger.
Hell, that might even explain Dr. Strange's powers, though I haven't seen that one yet.
But I predict it will. 38D
All this to say, I wouldn't be surprised if turns out Thanos, or some other bad guy, winds up using EMF as a major weapon against the Avengers in Infinite Wars, or indeed if they use something like that against him. I guess we'll see.
As I said, Black Panther is more than just a movie to a lot of folks. It's a symbol of hope for many, with a number of inspiring role models. It serves as a way for people to #HealTheDivide within themselves, within their communities, and within their world.
A clear path to redemption, to know that the qualities that make up either nobility or villainy are not determined by where you're from or what you look like, but by what you do.
"We will work to be an example of how we as brothers and sisters on this earth should treat each other. Now, more than ever, the illusions of division threaten our very existence. We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis, the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one single tribe."
T'Challa and his people are an inspiration. A society we should all aspire to emulate and which we can all achieve. Wakanda's not the past, but it can be future.
Now let's all do the thing together:
I don't know what it is about this clip, but it makes me so happy every time I watch it. 38D