Hollywood, CA – It has been touted by critics as a “coming of age” movie for blacks, who have been defined on the silver screen by caricature and stereotypes. Marvel’s movie Black Panther is looking set to make box office history this month as it opens in theaters across the country – a movie set in a post-modern futuristic world ruled by black kings and queens in “Wakanda,” a fictional modern African world, where the black superhero Black Panther is from. But despite seeming on the surface to be commentary on blacks and their role in modern society and how they have risen up, the movie through and through still falls back on racist stereotypes of blacks.
To begin with, Wakanda, is touted as a mysterious modern world, where blacks rule but is akin to the lost city of Atlantis – everyone’s heard about it, but no one has seen it. In so many ways, art imitates life. The fact that Wakanda is fiction to begin with is telling. In the modern world, Africa continues to suffer from Third World diseases which the rest of the world has shaken off, it continues to suffer one of the world’s lowest human development indexes despite being abundant in natural resources and continues to be plagued by civil war, strife and disease. Instead of the Utopian “Wakanda” depicted in the movie, there is nothing modern about present day Africa at all, it is for all intents and purposes as described by President Donald Trump – a “shithole.” Africa today, remains mired in the same problems that it has for the past millennia.
Yet Hollywood producers and directors, for all their claims about championing a black superhero could not resist reverting to Tinseltown stereotypes in their portrayal of blacks. One black character played by Isaach De Bankole who fought Daniel Craig’s James Bond in Casiono Royale sports the primitive lip plate, which is still practiced by some African tribes today and is “the elder of one of the largest tribes in Wakanda.” It seems old habits die hard, so even in a post-modern world, blacks revert back to their tribal leanings. Tribes still exist in a post-modern African world? Good thing the blacks are not in-charge then. Guess you can take the blacks out of Africa, but not the Africa out of blacks.
Then there is the entire plot of the movie. Much like Africa today, Wakanda is made up of many different tribes, all black and all on the surface looking the same, but hating each other for unknown and unknowable reasons and fighting each other to the bitter end. Remember the Rwandan genocide? Neither do I, but it was about Tutsis and Hutus apparently, I challenged you to spot the difference between them in a lineup. But Black Panther doesn’t stop there. Despite possessing modern weapons and superpowers, Wakandans are portrayed as primitive and continue to use spears, clubs, swords and shields. So given a choice between a high-tech, high-powered energy weapon from the future and a throwing weapon from the caveman era, the blacks of Wakanda would rather throw something at their enemies – how about a pot or something? Wait, that hasn’t been invented yet apparently, they’re still hunter-gatherers – European colonists only brought pots over to Africa in the late 19th century. If that’s not portraying blacks in their most base and primitive state, I don’t know what is.
Despite all the media spotlight on Black Panther championing a black superhero and altering the narrative of blacks as secondary characters in movies – how much of the black Stormtrooper was really featured in the last Star Wars movie? Blacks are supposedly finally entering the fray with their own superhero movies, but there is no mistaking that the Black Panther is little more than a racist jibe at what blacks will always be in Hollywood – a passing fancy and a curious novelty. The cruel irony is that the racist portrayal of blacks in Black Panther has been completely lost on the liberal elite and the black elite who are calling on their poor black counterparts to take out payday loans to go watch the movie.
Let’s not forget for one minute that Black Panther was written, funded and produced by white people. White people who know that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) will be lobbying their memberships to watch the movie. White people who know that blacks who may need to take out payday loans to buy tickets to the movie will be watching the movie. White people who know that ultimately, blacks won’t notice that the movie casts blacks as caricatures and perpetuates the very racist stereotypes that are prevalent in our society. It is this twisted irony then that makes Black Panther such a success, wherein whites are taking advantage of the indignation and ignorance of blacks, to sell them a movie that makes fun of them, albeit in the most elegant way – now that’s Hollywood entertainment and worth taking out a payday loan to watch. Word of advice when watching the movie – don’t forget to wash down that popcorn with some grape soda.