Titus Levi on *Black Panther*

Titus emails to me:

I had an atypical reaction: I left the theatre feeling very, very sad.

First, for the reasons enumerated here.

Second, because everything good and noble turned out to be incredibly fragile. All it took was an alternate vision of how to use power and Paradise degenerated into civil conflict. Mind you, this is a civil war that lasted only a few hours, but still.

Third, it’s heartbreaking to look up to a place… that doesn’t exist. The whole “what if Africa (or some part of it) hadn’t been colonized?” question unsettled me. We lost so much.

Fourth, T’Challa never told Killmonger, “My father was wrong to abandon you.” Never. And he felt it strongly. Strongly enough to challenge his father in a vision. Why did he say nothing about this?

Fifth, after the civil conflict everything goes… right back to normal. No reconciliation process. No sense for how to address the resentments lingering in the shadows. Nada. That struck me as facile.

Anyway, leave it to me to be a killjoy in response to a feel-good movie.

Agh.

Comments

I too did not like this movie. And the snow-bound African allies that howled like apes was insulting. And, I suspect unlike Mr. Levi, I'm white. Sad!

Bonus trivia: in the news today, Trump encouraging African elephant poaching, says Botswana's president. Botswana is one African country that has their act together, possibly due to a resource non-curse.

Bechuana has *a lot* of diamonds.

What's not to dislike about a black supremacist movie where they try to justify all their whining and supremacist agenda by making believe all their problems are because of racism rather than take responsibility for their own short comings?

My big issue with the movie was that "if Africa was not colonized" thing... but I was not expecting much from a fantasy movie partly about Africa and partly about African American experiences. The movie failed to put some light on why Africa is failing: bad governance by African leaders. Colonial legacy is still there but it's about time to tell people the mess created by ruthless dictators (and please, don't get me started on that "they were just puppets" stuff).

By the way, I'm African and I live in Angola.

Is your opinion a common one in Angola?

I fully agree with Titus Levi's other criticisms, but I take issue with the Christopher Lebron link. The reason the Killmonger dies yet Loki and other villains get to live on is because in some ways Killmonger wins: the Wakanda after he dies is a Wakanda going in a direction partially set by him. Loki can live because in the end, he's been much less effectual. (Or at least I assume so, I haven't seen all of the movies).

I felt Killmonger was the star of the movie - certainly stealing the scenes he was in - and his death elevated his character and character's viewpoint.

Yes, the linked article seems to completely (intentionally?) ignore that Killmonger's view (isolationism is wrong - Wakanda has a moral obligation to help) triumphs.

Yeah, I'm no friend to black ethnonationalist crap, but this movie did them a real disservice.

Beyond the technology, the Wakandans were depicted as primitive folk nationalists, tribal, atavistic, and entirely lacking in sound institutions or good judgement.

The director's vision seemed to be: "Hey: Black people; you can have flying cars BUT you'll never have modern constitutions !"

My daughter's reaction was, "Doesn't Wakanda have a residency requirement for the leader? You can bet they will after this!"

Christopher Lebron's review starts out with a swing at Trump - a big turnoff. I find all these action hero movies boring anyway.

Third, it’s heartbreaking to look up to a place… that doesn’t exist. The whole “what if Africa (or some part of it) hadn’t been colonized?” question unsettled me. We lost so much.

So this is a troll post

Agreed. That was a stupid aside.

Does any honest person here think that, if evil whitey didn't exist, Africa in 2020 would look substantially different from Africa 1720? Or the Africa of 1520 for that matter. Anyone? (Maybe there would be more Muslim slaves there...)

Does the Titus imagine that Africans would be zipping about in flying cars save for the evils of colonialism? It's beyond laughable.

Yeah, and I rated the movie 2.5/5 too, mostly on basis of Killmonger performance.

Your projection of your own racist views onto everybody is absurd and offensive. Of course more than zero people think Africa would progress in 300 years absent European involvement, you big jerk.

Whether similar technological progress would occur absent the enlightenment, industrial revolution, etc. in Europe is pointless speculation. They were likely singular events triggered by particular conditions, but who knows? Titus's comments need not mean that, though. I took him to mean something like "it's tragic that we don't get to see what it would have been like for Africans to set their own destiny."

Really, Dan?

Because (sub-Saharan) Africa 1720 was a LOT like Africa 1420. Which was a lot like Africa 1120. Which was a lot like Africa 820. Can't say the same for Europe, can you? Or Asia. Or even, God help us, pre-Columbian Meso-America. Nothing new out of Africa. Africa is almost unchanged in the 1000 years before colonialism. (obviously there are differences, but the level of technology, economy, social and political organisation, infrastructure, culture and philosophy is almost unchanged).

One can easily imagine an industrial revolution in Japan without the west. Or China. Or maybe even the Middle East / North Africa (stretching it). But it's just pure wishful thinking that some version of modernity would have sprung forth out of Africa if the rest of the world hadn't existed.

I have the pleasure to remain waycistly yours,

Alistair

This comment is so ill-informed it's laughable. Great Zimbabwe? Swahili city-states? Sahelian kingdoms and empires? My god, do some research before you make such a stupid sweeping comment that could be easily disproved with just a little bit of research. The period that you describe--the 1000 years before colonialism--was enormously dynamic across the continent. If you want a starting point, read what Ibn Battuta said about the Swahili coast in the 14th century before the Portuguese arrive.

So what? The Meso-Americans had empires. They were great at developing elaborate rituals around human sacrifice but never figured out that post-and-lintel construction is better than piling blocks on top of each other.

The Greco-Roman empires flat out won history. Everybody else is just along for the ride.

Great Zimbabwe actually works against your point, Jeff: it was both unique and abandoned before the era in question. It was not a sign of Africa moving towards a modern society. Same thing with Sahellans.

And, of course, not all of Africa was colonized. Tell me, just where does Ethiopia rank as a technological powerhouse?

dan1111 has clearly never been Africa. If there wasn't colonization, they would have been even worse off. Do you want to bet?

Yet. Even today one of the few developing African countries just took a turn to the worst (South Africa). Please also consider the difference of Africa to Asia. Both left colonialism and one has progressed more than the other imo. So to put everything on colonialism is imo stupid.

'Both left colonialism'

So, do remind us, when were China or Japan colonized?

In China? Manchuria. And the great coastal cities. All colonial. Add Hong Kong and Singapore and Macau as diaspora.

Of course, you have to work at a local/city level as all of China wasn't colonised. But "colonial" is a decent predictor of wealth for China.

Japan and Thailand: yes, non colonial Asia, discounting a few trade concessions. Useful data in their own right.

'In China? Manchuria.'

Or Manchukuo? But then, I did not bother to point out that Korea was colonized either. And if you mean the Russians, well, possibly. But then, that would also be like saying they colonized Mongolia - apart from the part that was Chinese, of course. And regardless of what the Mongols thought about it.

'And the great coastal cities'

Hong Kong and Macau, sure. And the concession aspect of a place like Shanghai can be considered colonial enough. Guangzhou was also in that state for about 2.5% of its history..

'But “colonial” is a decent predictor of wealth for China. '

How does that work for a place like Guangzhou?

Of course, what you consider colonialism in a broad sense the Chinese consider something else. Or to put it into American terms - was China more like South American nations, or more like African ones, after the U.S. decided that the Monroe Doctrine was the framework in which South America dealt with European powers? In other words, to what extent was South America an American colonial area, because the U.S. claimed primacy in the dealings of those nations? A primacy that lasted pretty much until the end of the Cold War, as a matter of fact, with the notable exceptions of Cuba (still embargoed by the U.S.) and Nicaragua.

@Prior

To be fair, it doesn't much. The colony areas are a little richer than the Chinese average, but were and remain well endowed in the first instance. You could argue the relative gain/loss is slight compared to the Chinese mean.

It goes back to the basic point that "was a colony" doesn't have much predictive value; negative or positive, when you run the large cross-sectional regression across the world. Thanks for the reminder on Korea; another good example. Horrible Japanese colonialism; comes out ok. Blaming Africa's problem on colonialism flies in the face of the data.

You're conflating "white people didn't exist" with "white people didn't undertake a deliberately destabilizing colonization attempt of Africa".

I find it strange how infrequently anybody brings up the example of Ethiopia, which was basically the Thailand of Africa. Of course, people also rarely bring up Thailand as the "control group" for colonialism in mainland east asia.

Africa wasn't making much progress before 1880, nor was its performance particularly impressive after 1960. Colonialism allows them to pretend that had they had independence from 1880-1960, they would have zoomed ahead. Ethiopia complicates that narrative. I've heard some claim it was an "Italian colony," but only in the way that Belgium was a "German colony."

Spanish, actually, from 1556 to 1714 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Netherlands

And that is one of the major (and obvious) reasons the Dutch had one of the more glorious roles in the Enlightenment, and the Belgians didn't - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_Golden_Age

Japan, Interior China, Bhutan are also controls alongside Thailand. No clear trend, right?

Oh, and Tibet.

The starting premise is that there has been a hidden technological wonder for 1000+ years. Everything else has to be back-ported onto that, whether or not it makes sense.

Just like if you tell a story that vampires have been living with us for a thousand years, you need an explanation for why the mundanes haven't noticed them. Whether or not it makes sense.

So Wakanda has to be isolationist, they have to be free from colonialism, they have to accept no ambassadors, all that stuff, it's necessary for the first premise to hold.

Third, it’s heartbreaking to look up to a place… that doesn’t exist. The whole “what if Africa (or some part of it) hadn’t been colonized?” question unsettled me. We lost so much.

I am trying to understand this quote. Heartbreaking because he believes that colonization prevented African from reaching developed world status, or heartbreaking because he knows that the fiction of a Wakanda masks the real problems that the continent has regardless of colonization?

You have to apply the Straussian decoder. Cowen and Levi are pretending to believe that "people" are looking up to Wakanda to satirize the tribalized myth-making of modern discourse.

Yeah, it was so gauche I wondered if we were in a straussian moment...

So the movie is racist.

There’s got to be a way to not endorse colonization and yet point out it can’t be blamed for current state of affairs. Remember Asia was colonized as well. https://history.state.gov/milestones/1945-1952/asia-and-africa

Yeah, it's called making a nuanced argument 😁

The USA was colonized by the UK (and briefly by Sweden), the Netherlands and Belgium were colonized by Spain. And yes, Asia. Etcetera etcetera. Citing "used to be a colony" as an explanation for current backwardness is inconsistent and weak-minded.

Ignoring it as a possible root cause of problems, simply because some colonies turned out well, is equally weak reasoning.

It's not a matter of whether colonialism is good or bad, it's to do with the institutions brought by the colonists. Compare the Belgian Congo to Hong Kong.

Rule by the natives could be pretty brutal - look at the wars/forced migrations caused by the rise of Shaka.

Would the Mahdi in Sudan have instituted anything that doesn't resemble Taliban era Afghanistan?

"Compare the Belgian Congo to Hong Kong"
Under colonjal rule, Singapore was desesperately poor.

There is this thing called statistics, Dan, and economic history. You may have heard of the field.

"Used to be a colony" has ZERO predictive power for the development of a modern economy. Absolutely none. You might as well argue "Country has the letter 'E" in the name"; it's got just a much scientific validity. This is an economics blog; try to act like you know the basics of the literature.

As Raymond Crotty would say, there's a big difference between being a "settler colony" like the US, Canada, Australia or New Zealand vs an "extractive colony" like India.

Institutions in colonial India were not particularly extractive (aside from the first period in Bengal). In fact the combination of free trade, private property rights and a small state funded primarily through land taxation sounds like a classical economists dream. Government revenues were only 5% of GDP in the early 1900's! This created a dynamic group of coastal cities, but did not do much for the agricultural areas inland, where ecological factors retarding growth were only overcome during the green revolution and large scale investment by the state.

Source: The Economic History of India, 1857-1947, Tirthankar Roy.

+1.

EIC rents are not that high; certainly no higher than the preceding period. They make about the same amount of money squeezing the Indian cotton market. Both are modest compared to the whole Indian economy. And small compared to the overall textile trade from 1820 onwards. All the real value is further downstream in the Lancashire cotton mills.

India grows steadily over the Raj. But most of it is dissipated into a rapidly rising population, so the average Indian is no better off.

'The USA was colonized by the UK'

Along with the French and the Spanish.

And the UK was colonised by the Normans!

I can't tell you how badly it traumatised me.

Not all of asia: Thailand wasn't. Japan also managed to escape being colonized and instead colonized Korea before moving on to parts of China. As I mentioned above, Ethiopia managed to remain independent when other African countries didn't. Italy briefly took over, but that didn't last and the Ethiopian emperor was restored to power. Unfortunately, he was overthrown by communist military officers later on.

Afghanistan and Iran were not colonised either. Most of the Middle East was only colonised (by Europeans, as only Europeans can colonise) for around 30 years.

China, with a massive population, was never colonised. This is something that people seem to forget. Something about narratives and not fitting in, maybe?

Colonized no but invaded and occupied.

Most of Europe has been invaded and occupied e.g Napoleonic wars, WW2.

Thought experiment:

Reduce the Native African population to levels of Native American population and vice verse. How would the world be different?

If your argument against colonisation is the current state of affairs, this is hard.

Otherwise it is not too hard. There a bunch of arguments that colonies are a bad idea that don't depend on the idea that, e.g. Africans or Indians would otherwise be better off than they are.

There is a part of black Africa that was never colonized, i.e., Ethiopia. Are people not aware of that, or do they deliberately choose to ignore it?

But that would go against the necessary virtue signaling :D

Well, Ethiopia is such a modern and well-functioning powerhouse that all the racists here daren't call attention to it..... wait...

Yep. Ethiopians are still trying to migrate to Yemen(!):

https://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/conflict-yemen-does-not-deter-ethiopian-migrants

So much intellectual energy spent (wasted?) on a comic book.

This. The Black Panther obsession is absurd and embarrassing. It’s a medium quality comic book movie, which is a low quality movie genre. That’s all.

So you do not want to read my Existentialist/Logical Positivist take on the Superfriends?

What would be an existentialist reading of the movie?

Choose your own path, sure. Don’t act in bad faith (pretending you have no control over that path), sure.

But a positivist reading? Don’t confuse your emotions with ontology? Not sure.

Wasting intellectual energy is what blog comments are for. I'm sure high productivity work awaits me elsewhere...

A symbol of Trump's America.

No. The US is not a racially homogenous, nationalist monarchy with a natural resource so valuable they've eliminated scarcity.

But is a snapshot of America's legitimacy deficit, America's dissension, America's isolationism running amok.

I tend to see the isolation as “walking gingerly” rather than “running amok”.

When I was a child, films about aliens from outer space always depicted the aliens as threatening, hell-bent on killing people from earth. Then along came Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Boy, was that an optimistic time! It didn't last long. Films about action heroes go through the same cycle. Back in the mid-1970s, I met a high school football coach who was white and coached a team with mostly black players. His view, which he frequently shared, was that blacks are the superior race, reflected then in their superior athletic abilities and in the future in everything else they have the opportunity to undertake. People, black, white, yellow, develop the skills appropriate to their place and time. Those who are suddenly subjected to radical changes in place and time take time to adapt. Think of white farmers in Europe and America during the industrial revolution or black bush people in Africa at the beginning of the last century or white factory workers in the industrial mid-west today. Or think of people from all races and places in the radical shift from the industrial age to the information age. In time, people adapt. But most peoples' perspectives are fixed in the place and time they live. Thus, racial, religious, and ethnic prejudices. Most peoples' perspectives but not all peoples' perspectives, including that white high school football coach I met many years ago.

"Then along came Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Boy, was that an optimistic time! It didn’t last long."

Wht about ET, Cocoon, https://www.google.com.br/search?q=lilo+e+stitch&oq=lilo+&aqs=chrome.1.69i57j0l3.3197j0j7&client=tablet-android-samsung&sourceid=chrome-mobile&ie=UTF-8#imgrc=lnq6TXQtyXOQaM:

In other words, people adapt to fill ecological niches and develop different cultures that shape you before you are even born. Is the goal of Diversity to eliminate these differences, or is it to change them so a particular group can assume the top rank in the hierarchy?

Uh, Klaatu?

the length and intensity of colonization in Africa was minimal.

Only one thought worthy of writing about on this:
"Fourth, T’Challa never told Killmonger, “My father was wrong to abandon you.” Never. And he felt it strongly. Strongly enough to challenge his father in a vision. Why did he say nothing about this?"
Uh, gee, Titus, it's a comic book. Yeah, so they made a movie out of it. Neither one is known for deep coverage of characters. And comics, especially Marvel, frequently rely on somewhat contrived situations to create angst, and possibly another story line.

Actually, we need a 1500-page treatment of this storyline.

I was actually pleasantly surprised by the movie. If you choose to ignore the Evil Whitey subtext it had a quite conservative message, the restoration of the rightful King to rule over a historically "isolationist" country. There are a lot of plot holes, but isn't that true about all superhero movies?

This objection is interesting:

"In 2018, a world home to both the Movement for Black Lives and a president who identifies white supremacists as fine people, we are given a movie about black empowerment where the only redeemed blacks are African nobles. They safeguard virtue and goodness against the threat not of white Americans or Europeans, but a black American man, the most dangerous person in the world.

Even in a comic-book movie, black American men are relegated to the lowest rung of political regard. So low that the sole white leading character in the movie, the CIA operative Everett Ross (Martin Freeman), gets to be a hero who helps save Wakanda. A white man who trades in secrets and deception is given a better turn than a black man whose father was murdered by his own family and who is left by family and nation to languish in poverty. That’s racist."

The point that Lebron misses is that the movie is an inversion of the classic "white savior" troupe, in which Goodwhites fight the Badwhites to protect nonwhite 'natives' who are usually portrayed as sometimes angelic, sometimes savage, but always unable to defend themselves alone, requiring the leadership of the white hero. In Black Panther, the whole white world must be protected from Killmonger's plan. Ross is not a "white savior of Wakanda" but more similar to the natives in the white savior films, fighting alongside the hero to protect his own people. Black Panther is similar to the older style of white savior films, in which the natives are portrayed as savage but still redeemable if molded by the Goodwhites. This will allow the black audience to celebrate the "empowerment" of blacks while also maintaining that, if they had the power that whites have, they would not behave in the same "oppressive" manner.

Titus Levi on Los Angeles

https://youtu.be/sExvVYcLaAA

I have not seen this movie but as I understand it these criticisms are that the paragon of black nationhood did not say "OK, guys, we were isolationists for hundreds of years of extreme poverty, isolationists for the slave trade, isolationists for colonialism, isolationists for the era of post-colonialist civil wars, isolationists for apartheid, isolationists for AIDS, isolationists for the Rwandan genocide, isolationists for Darfur...but the racial disparity in arrests for marijuana possession in the United States is truly unconscionable." If so, do Africans find that a little myopic?

+1.

Yeah, the movie was totally "Africa as understood by African Americans, not African Africans". I found it almost embarrassing.

the paragon of black nationhood did not say

I'm going to guess you meant "the paragon of black nationhood" to be Killmonger, although you haven't seen it so who knows what you mean.

The reason Killmonger is more concerned about black poverty in Western nations instead of Darfur or AIDS is because he grew up in black poverty in a Western nation.

All super hero movies are about preserving the status quo. Superman never goes and dismantles genocidal regimes overseas. He just stops power lasers from blowing up America.

It's far too uncomfortable to fantasize about a better world.

For good reasons. As famous site TV Tropes pointed out, "To avoid trivializing real-life problems. If Mr. Fantastic actually does cure HIV in the Marvel Universe, there will be plenty of real people still HIV-positive, and plenty of researchers still investing untold millions of dollars and work hours to fight HIV when they finish the comic. This can make creators wary of tackling such issues, as it can be considered insensitive to have such a heavy burden in real life be casually miracle-cured in fiction." Genocidal regimes will continue to exist.

"To avoid trivializing real-life problems. If Mr. Fantastic actually does cure HIV in the Marvel Universe, there will be plenty of real people still HIV-positive"

Kind of like how batman trivializes muggings/rapes whenever he swoops in at the last second to provide some much-needed street justice. Or how captain America trivializes WWII, bla bla bla.

Have you heard of police, vigilantes, etc. I am sure Batman can not stop all muggings, although he has had reamakable success at preventing nuclear mushrooms and city domination by clowns and penguins. Count your blessings.

"Or how captain America trivializes WWII, bla bla bla."

Yeah, he won it alone, don't you know?

Yeah the japanese don't seem to have much of a problem with their super heroes preventing cities from blowing up..........

WWII is not still going on. Batman doesn't solve muggings, he stops individual actions. And then fails to kill the Joker, resulting in thousands of deaths over and over.

I'm always amused by the quasi-ruling status of superheroes in these fantasies. If superheroes have more destructive power than anybody else in the universe, why wouldn't you just give them the government? Or, why wouldn't they just take it?

Fantasies get ruined for me when they start piling up the internal contradictions. I had one of those moments in the Hunger Games when the man-eating wolfbear things materialized out of the dirt to rip apart the teenaged gladiators. If the technocracy can do that, why wouldn't they just materialize the resource-extracting robots to work in the districts instead of a restive labor force that they have to keep in penal conditions on the edge of starvation?

This is the essential problem/nature of ALL fantasy/sci fi/superhero movies and books and comics. EVERY one of them make no sense in that way. They are ultimately fables, and for kids, and if you don't suspend disbelief they make no sense. Lord of the Rings: many examples but in the end some eagles come down and save Frodo and Sam...why didn't they just fly in there and drop them off to destroy the ring and then take them out? Star Wars: so many even in the original trilogy that's supposed to be awesome and perfect but it's just as full of holes as the new ones. Any comic book movie, with aliens an whatnot invading, with evil robots and supergenius scientists, why isn't every disease cured and so on?

I give credit to DC for at least trying to imagine real world interactions/responses to Superman, Batman, etc. And what makes Watchmen the best of all is that it focuses almost exclusively on what the actual world would look like if there were 'superheroes', especially since all the heroes are basically regular people dressing up and playing vigilante except Dr. Manhattan, and with him the book is very interesting in how it presents the real world reacting to him. (Watchmen is a DC property too).

In other words, either you watch those movies and suspend disbelief and enjoy them for the fun, totally unrealistic kids' movies they are, or you grumble and don't like them.

"mumbe...mumble...mumble......NAAAAAAAZGULLLLLLL!"

OK, bad LOTR joke:

Faramir: "Naaaaaaaaazgul!"

Witch King: "Dude. The "N" word. That's Wraithist".

Comic books however do stories about heroes not preserving the status quo; they point out that heroes are human just like the rest of us, and often make mistakes It's just now you have the equivalent of a nuclear bomb working for communism, as in Superman: Red Son, or the heroes you thought are right to rule the world will become as ruthless as the villains (Squadron Supreme, to an extent Watchmen.)

What has messed up Africa is not mainly colonialism, it's values.

Time and time again, Africans choose tribe over broader social categories and tend to fall in line behind big men and not very much thought is given to future problems caused by impulsive behavior.

Overall I think that colonialism was a wash, it helped a little in some areas and hurt a little in some areas but the overwhelming damage to Africa was the choices that African people have made over and over and over (see white farmers in Zimbabwe and now South Africa...)

The less said about the hype surrounding the film the better, IMO, but the phrase that stuck with me was "afro-futurism". I realize we're dealing with fantasy here, but the fantasy works itself out in ways that seem different to me even in the superhero genre.

The first bit is social class. BP is all about royalty, royal blood, and the noble families that run the five tribes of Wakanda. Several major plot points including the central one have royal blood as the key element. In a world in which the most powerful and advanced civilization is in Africa, they are still ruled by hereditary chieftans and follow arcane rules of combat for the throne. There's a surface reading of this as a sort of black empowerment aimed at the internalization of the protagonist, but strikes me as an implicit criticism. Wakanda is a country that exists in the 25th century technologically, and the fortieth century BC politically. There's a strange sort of fusion of extreme cultural backwardness with extreme technological advancement. One might take away that the trappings of civilization are not necessary for the advancement, but that begs a very critical question.

So too the culture around Wakanda is incredibly primitive. When the protagonist suffers a defeat and falls over a cliff into water (current survival rate in films for this 'death', 100%), a fisherman leading a yak rescues him. They're making pulse weapons and cloaked hoverjets, and going fishing with their favorite yak on the side? The costume is the same, a sort of pan-african tribal dress for the various tribes. Their pulse weapons are built into tribal weapons, literally spears. I understand cultural lineage, we have a bomber called the Lancer. We didn't build it into a literal lance.

Ultimately, I'm less interested in the film as a commentary on race than I am as a commentary on culture. The racial angle is conflicted as well, but the central conflict is between an expressly racist colonial angle and what is basically Afro-centric neoliberalism. The protagonist rejects the genocidal path of the antagonist and decides that what the backward nations of the world (like the US) need is a little outreach, some charity work. There was something profoundly and depressingly status quo about the ending of the film. It's a paean to international meddling by well-meaning people. Is the problem with Oakland really that they don't have a "Bugatti spaceship" and a royal landowner/landlord?

I don't want to overanalyze, it's a superhero film. But superhero stories are the modern myth, and this one is far less subversive and interesting at the surface level than it sells itself as. On a deeper level, it raises questions about cultural modernity and its connection to technological advancement. I'm not sure if it's a critique of the West for being deracinated by civilization or if it's a double-blind critique of those outside for never managing that bit.

Thanks. Good points made.

“Fifth, after the civil conflict everything goes… right back to normal. No reconciliation process. No sense for how to address the resentments lingering in the shadows. Nada. That struck me as facile.”

Things change. After the credits (in the typical Marvel-fashion) there’s an additional scene where the king and other representatives from Wakonda appear at a UN-style meeting. They reveal their utopia to the world and talk about providing aide to parts of the world in need.

"“what if Africa (or some part of it) hadn’t been colonized?” Which colonisation has he in mind? Carthaginian? Roman? Bantu? Moslem? Modern European? Chinese?

"Which colonisation has he in mind?"

Here's a hint: The more progressive the writer the more they think that only white people have agency. Others are simply acted on and prevented from flowering like the lilies of the valley....

Along with the "problematic" suggestion that even with the best tech/minds in the world, Wakanda remains mired in tribalism and violence, and the nobility of the Africans compared to the villainy of African-Americans (in the film, as noted by the link in the post), there was little wrestling with the silly system of succession, which made Killmonger the rightful king (until people knew the Panther had survived). If you have those rules, you can't complain about the result those rules generate (parallels to our current electoral system obvious). Just 20 years ago, it would have been relatively obvious that the movie was subtly offensive in a variety of way (suggesting African-Americans will be saved by a technological airdrop, etc.), but now it's lauded by many (who pretty obviously aren't thinking through the implications of the movie). To be clear, I don't share the movie's views, actually think it's pretty racist (and I'm not one of those who thinks all stereotypes are racist), couldn't help feeling like the movie was put together someone trying to undermine certain positions, while superficially appearing to support them (fatherless African-American male as villain (despite nod to MIT level intelligence), noble, royal, African as hero is really all you need to see this).

Not to mention that the "troops" supporting the "status quo" are mostly women, and they almost to a woman step into line to enforce what will clearly turn out to be a fascist take-over of their government and way of life. I'm not sure what this is saying about the "silent majority" of single black head of households raising 1, 2, 3, or more kids without dad around. Perhaps that they are teaching their kids to be uncle toms, to keep their heads down and shuffle along...
But I do have to also comment on the idea that Wakanda will export these weapons ONLY to revolutionaries intent on the overthrow of the "established world order". Seems to me the US tried to restrict atomic weapons technology, and Wakandan success is just as likely. (i.e. not at all). (The first scene had criminals selling the technology, the logic isn't even self-consistent - true comic book form.)

I felt it like it was a move with a bunch of good ideas and characters that were underdeveloped.

Killmonger had a potentially noble motivation for the evil he did... yet was largely just a psychotic mass murderer. And most Wakandan leaders threw in with the crazy mass murderer for no apparent reason.

T'Challa finished the movie as essentially the same person as he started.

The political system for this supposedly advanced African civilization was literally the rule by combat, sure Democracy is a bit Western, but surely there were more civilized African traditions to choose from.

I might have just had too high of expectations for what was after-all a comic book movie, but I was underwhelmed after the press.

I didn't love it as an MCU film, but both the laudatory and critical discourse it has inspired has been more interesting than any other MCU film.

Legitimate criticism from Titus Levi, although the link he provided, to a Christopher Lebron article, was far less sound.
The summary of it is, as i understand it:
The movie is bad because it does not exclusively portray citizens of a technological advanced African country and their way of thinking as Black Panther (the activist movement) inspired Afro-American tribalism.
That movie was surprisingly not US-centred, and does not endorse violent interventionism and racism as a solution to solve the very real unfair treatment of the black population in the United States ( which looks a lot like "interventions" in Irak or Lybia recently) nor does it endorse the past "do nothing and look the other way" solution.

He offers them education through a foundation. A long term proven solution that of course is not as salable from a PR perspective than a short term useless uprising.

Mr Lebron, by crying "racist", and advocating for Killmonger, who actually plans to genocide white people in the United States, is a poster child of the reason why so many modern Afro-Americans are not only the discriminated against by a defavorable society organization and do not realize that their time spent of complaining and being violent plays against their own interests even more than the world around them.
As proven by other successful and admirable African-American, many Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean immigrants in Anglo-European countries, or even the incredible Iranian womenin their own country, you overcome discrimination by working harder and better, and by sheer competence. And, in a very Ayn Randian way, you make the looters and other rent seekers feel irrelevant and vote for Donald T..
Ok, i'll stop there :)

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