The Politics, Performances, and Problems of 'Black Panther'


#1

Austin, Rob, Patrick and Danielle dig into the politics, performances, and problems of Marvel's latest film, Black Panther. During our spoiler-filled discussion, we cover everything from the disrobing of Michael B. Jordan to the frustrating (centrist?) answers the movie offers in response to some of its big questions. Wakanda forever? Wakanda forever.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/vbpjzb/the-politics-performances-and-problems-of-black-panther

#2

I’ve read a lot of takes on Black Panther in the past few weeks, but I think this one from Africa is a Country captures it best. The short version is that Wakanda does a great job of capturing Africa’s spirit but also seems to be devoid of its own culture. The goal of honoring real African culture is in conflict with the goal of imagining a truly uncolonized African nation (yes, I’m aware of Ethiopia). Thus, it gets an A+ at African Studies 201 but fails to take the next step and create an original place, especially one that really embodies the “futurism” part of Afrofuturism.

All that said, #WakandaForever.


#3

I curious if waypoint would do some animes with these podcast since there are pretty good amount with interesting themes.

I came out from Black Panther with a glow of pride for me and the community that surrounds me. I believe there a lot of building that still needs to happen, both for the film and what to come in sequels, and to the character T’Chaka as he now pushing forward. Let keep on building in all areas.

#WakandaForever


#4

Would LOVE to if we had the time. Rob and I even talked about doing an LOGH one, but there’s a huge difference between watching a 2 hour movie and watching dozens of hours of an anime, especially given our packed schedules. Maybe one day!


#5

lol if y’all gonna do LOGH you’d need like a solid year, that’s like a dissertation right there


#6

There some anime movies you can do like Your name or Silent voice. Most animes are 12 episodes long so it could be possible.


#7

The one part in the discussion that threw me off is the anger of T’Challa creating a Wakanda Outreach Program in Oakland. I don’t think we can assume they don’t care where the people are moving (I also think Shuri says that the building has been out of commission and is being demolished soon…maybe i’m wrong). Just weird to be angry about it especially when the scene is there to show that they are starting to reach out to predominantly black neighborhoods.

Also when Danielle said this should be shot in Richmond rather than Oakland. While Oakland has gone through a lot of gentrification there are still parts of Oakland which still have low income housing. Also I think the choice of using Oakland is two fold in that Coogler is from Oakland and the Black Panther party got started in Oakland.


#8

Yeah, we actually dug into this in our convo SECONDS after we stopped recording! Especially the bit about the article about Coogler that included him saying one day he’d premiere a movie in his local theater.

Edit: But re: The larger point, consider how often we, as a show, drag liberals and centrists, who insist that the marketplace is the solution. Access does not ensure equality or diversity. This is a myth perpetrated by reactionaries who are terrified of actual social change, and often comes seconds removed from fears about “distribution” and “competition.” Schooling is important, it’s imperative, but it cannot fix issues of racism and poverty alone. I wanted the film to at least nod in that direction, and in not doing it, I felt let down pretty bad.


#10

I think the anger you’re referring to comes (stems?) more from the hyper-neoliberal notion that the magic bullet solution to black suffering is STEM education and participation in the meritocratic system on quote-unquote “equal” footing. In and of itself, STEM education/outreach/emphasis for black kids is not at all a bad thing. Lots of kids of all types get discouraged from science early on because of poor teaching and lack of resources. But inadequate STEM education is an effect of systemic lack of opportunity, not a cause, so addressing the effect, while good, will not fix the root of the issue. Working 100% as intended, the best it can do is raise a generation of black scientists and programmers who can get their resumes passed over or tossed in the trash because their name sounds too urban (or else tokenized and used as a shield to deflect said criticism). At least in my view, a bandaid solution in the face of an unethical global meritocracy is not enough.


#11

First off thanks for the response, really did enjoy the discussion!

Edit: But re: The larger point, consider how often we, as a show, drag liberals and centrists, who insist that the marketplace is the solution. Access does not ensure equality or diversity. This is a myth perpetrated by reactionaries who are terrified of actual social change, and often comes seconds removed from fears about “distribution” and “competition.” Schooling is important, it’s imperative, but it cannot fix issues of racism and poverty alone. I wanted the film to at least nod in that direction, and in not doing it, I felt let down pretty bad.

I do agree with this. I think you talked a little bit about this in the discussion where you pointed out college educated black folks are paid less than college educated white folks.

Maybe they wanted to end the movie on a very positive note and don’t want to remind people that equality is a long and arduous road.


#12

There is nothing the struggle needs less than empty optimism, which is why (while it’s painted as positive in the film), I can’t help but see it as a leader unable to actually internalize the criticism that Erik was leveraging, only able to work in the language of a power system he is unwilling to tackle head on.

We don’t need more depictions of rich folks building community centers to save the day. What we need is characters we can admire who will travel that “long and arduous road” with us.


#13

How did you guys not bring up Shuri’s colonizer line?!? Easily one of the best lines in the movie and now my go to jibe towards my friends of a fairer complexion.


#14

Probably because we recorded this two weeks after most of us watched the movie! :sweat_smile:


#15

It’s a great line that gets lots of laughs (and I personally loved it), but it ultimately doesn’t make sense in the context of an uncolonized African country. As Edoro and Shringarpure argue, the whole film feels eminently post-colonial rather than acolonial or non-colonial.


#16

All I have to say is that I watched this movie in a local, independent Oakland theater and it was dope and resistance is still real af out here.


#17

Yeah as Austin said on the podcast, I think that the “politics of casting” was at a level we’ve never seen in such high-profile heavily-Hollywood-promoted cinema, but the conclusion reached about the internal “politics” of the plot was pretty mild really, to the point that it would be palatable even to Republicans. After all, over the course of the story, the main character went from an isolationist view popular in current mainstream politics to being in favour of foreign aid, but that’s not particularly revolutionary - actually I’m pretty sure the U.S. President who gave the most in foreign aid to Africa was George W. Bush. Not everything maps over directly obviously, but I feel like there were solutions to give that would have been less milquetoast while still being a different approach to Killmonger’s.

Of course, it might only be a first step as the “backstory movie” for a long-running Black Panther movie franchise - I’m not very familiar with the direction the comics went. I hope the death of Killmonger doesn’t mean the death of the questions that he raised because it was one of the most compelling parts of the movie.


#18

I was hoping for some talk on the Music both Kendricks Album and the Score by Ludwig Goransson in the film are incredibly good KillMonger track especially on the score track is intense

The weakest part of the movie for me was the Cgi This fell below even the marvel standard I feel especially after the Effects of Doctor Strange and Thor Ragnarok

a fun thing i seen is that Thor Ragnarok and Black Panther are the same movie handled 2 different ways A Son dealing with responsibilities of being a leader and dealing with the mistakes and lies of there Father’s


#19

What’s the difference between acolonial and non-colonial?


#20

So I just re-watched that part of the movie and the scene goes like this:

Shuri - "They’re tearing it down, good"
T’Challa - “They’re not tearing it down, I bought this building, and that building, and that one over there. This will be the first Wakanda international outreach. Nakia will oversee the social outreach and you will spearhead the science and information exchange”

You all hammer on it about being a STEM learning center but that’s not what that sounds like to me. What it sounds like to me is Wakanda is going to be helping people and providing information and technology to the community. Further the idea of this as the first place other nations can really interact with Wakanda and possibly gain some technology from them forces nations to actually go to and exam an impoverished black neighborhood.

Disney did put out a press release that they were going to open a STEM center in Oakland in reaction to the success of the movie so that might have influenced memories of the scene after 2 weeks.


#21

No difference. I just wasn’t sure which is the correct word for that thing.