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Why "Black Panther" Is Revolutionary, Even Though It Isn’t


#1

Why "Black Panther" Is Revolutionary, Even Though It Isn’t

Aviva Chomsky

Of course a Marvel Comics, Hollywood, high-budget capitalist product isn’t going to be actually revolutionary. Or isn’t going to meet every revolutionary purist’s standards. But there is a lot that is revolutionary about this movie.


#2

I have to admit, when I read about the title of this movie, knowing nothing about the content, I got excited.
I thought they had made a movie about the Black Panther Party of the 1960’s, and all the good they did in their neighborhoods. What a let down.


#3

several years ago i felt surprised to learn that many black people resented the the tone of “Gone with the Wind” even accusing author margaret mitchell of bigotry. must say it took me some time to wrap my head around this critique. these dissatisfied appraisers saw the novel and movie as presenting a rather utopian view of slavery as a system which benefited both the kindly plantation owner and his slaves. this most “peculiar institution” provided homes, food, shelter as well as meaningful work for the slave population. every single one of us should acknowledge that we approach any social issue from some point of bias.

in an effort to see history through another’s experience i regularly read and listen to black agenda report. today is the last day we celebrate black history month. during this february i’ve seen several fluff-piece evening news items honoring black heroes–such as war vets–who have played important roles in america’s history. however, we see little mention of black heroes such as political prisoner, mumai abu jamar, who speak passionately in favor of radical changes to the american justice system and the capitalistic paradigm which commodifies human labor as sources of profit for the monopoly corporate owners in the capitalist class. these call it “free trade” a term straight from orwell’s “1984” meant to obscure the true nature of capitalism. i had planned to see “Black Panther” but after reading, The “Black Panther” Movie: Why is it Dangerous? Why do we fall for it? by Abdul Akalimat @BAR i have reservations. i think that aviva chomsky has done a great job in her analysis. she and akalimat agree about the ambiguity of referencing the ‘royal blood-line’ which fits the western propaganda promoting hierarchy. after all it’s not their wealth accumulation but superior breading that chooses who leads and who follows. abdul akalimat explains, “The big lie is that to be a Panther one has to be of ‘royal blood,’ and not simply a victim of the system who stands up to fight back. Another big lie is that the CIA is an ally in the fight for a better world.”


#4

I probably won’t see this movie for quite some time, so thanks Aviva for giving me a leg up to understand others who’ve seen and are talking about it.

Reading this, began to wonder how widely it will be seen in Africa, and will it resemble anything Africans recognize as reality, other than colonialism. Or will they see it as American entertainment, meant for an American audience.


#5

I think this speaks to the issue. It is the perspective of people that haven’t accepted colonialism from people that can’t remember what that experience is like without extreme bias.

“Do you know why people like me are shy about being capitalists? Well, it’s because we, for as long as we have known you, were capital, like bales of cotton and sacks of sugar, and you were the commanding, cruel capitalists, and the memory of this is so strong, the experience so recent, that we can’t quite bring ourselves to embrace this idea that you think so much of. (36-37)”


#6

This is the biggie. The film is propaganda to think the CIA are the good guys in the world.


#7

In the mid 1980’s Carlos Diegues, from Brazil, made a powerful film about the true history of Palmares. This was a nation of people who escaped the brutal slavery of the Portuguese and established an independent nation that was about to fight off colonial armies of the Dutch and Portuguese for about 100 years. This was a truly inspiring film. On top of this, it had a soundtrack by Gilbero Gil.


#8

years ago i watched a documentary filmed in the 1930s or about. a group of white explorers navigated the nile into deep, dark africa led by their trusty black guide. i remember one segment where the explorers “discovered” a previously unknown tribe. the new acquaintances welcomed and invited their guests to join the community for dinner followed by music and entertainment. the explorers brought gifts, like mirrors and cameras to amaze these “primitive” people. so kind and friendly was this society that the voice-over exclaimed in amazement, “they almost seem civilized!” so, what qualifies as “civilized” from the western point of view? well, technologically advanced and having greater weapons! and that leads to the white man’s burden and colonialism. almost anywhere we look on earth european imperialists have taken charge of the resources and economy–japan, the philippines, australila, the entire american continent–north and south–and the continent of africa. from blood diamonds, to uranium and onto black gold the euro conquerors take control. you know? it hasn’t been all that long ago that our curious nile navigators trecked into the deep untamed jungles of africa. now, in less that 100 years much of the continent lies in waste. africa has been deforested and faces encroaching desertification. no more free food for the picking. the west is not spreading democracy!


#9

Bruce Dixon at BlackAgendaReport tags “Black Panther” as #EnemyPropaganda. Paul Street over there sums it up in his analysis Good Panther, Bad Panther. Osha Neuman hits the nail on the head (my emphasis):

Just as during the Obama’s eight years Black people enjoyed and took righteous pleasure in seeing a fine Black couple in the White House, so now Black audience take justified and righteous pleasure in seeing images of fine Black men and women, heroic and powerful, commanding a blockbuster film. The Obama presidency confounded those who took for granted there would always be a blanket of whiteness on the peaks of power. This film may have a similar cultural significance, confounding those who believed a film by, for, and about Black people could never be a blockbuster. And, just as real pleasure at seeing a cool, beautiful, intelligent Black President allowed some to overlook the just as real betrayal by that Black president of the struggles of African-Americans, so real pleasure at seeing Black power and beauty portrayed on the screen, allows some to overlook the message that good Blacks’ mission is to do battle with angry Blacks hankering for revolution.

By comparison, I’m disappointed to find Aviva Chomsky out to lunch on this one.


#10

No, this movie got a lot of attention even before it opened because of the racist alt-right attacks against it.


#11

Yes. Mostly, Ms. Chomsky seemed to have really engage in some mental and rhetorical contortions in her interpretation about it. The reviews of the movie from the black intellectual critics I’ve read generally have been like Lebron’s, not Chomsky’s. So basically, the Black Panther is Obama, while Killmonger is Rev. Wright - or appropo to the Killmonger’s fate, Huey Newton - the real Black Panther .

Unfortunately, the reviews by the black viewership in general has been totally raving - but like all USAns, they are just engrossed by the characters and action - especially the depiction of black people running things for once, not the propaganda.


#12

No, this is yet another entry from the Marvel Comics universe. I haven’t seen Black Panther, so I can’t comment on it specifically, but I have seen a few of the Marvel movies, and in the broadest sense, these movies seem to be inherently conservative.

I mean that in the general sense of maintaining the status quo, preserving the existing order, by eliminating the threat of an independent example. The James Bond franchise fulfills the same function–even during the Cold War, Bond and MI6 never directly confronted the Soviet Union (From Russia with Love came the closest) but rather concentrated on taking out the independent operator who challenged the established order; during the 1970s detente, Bond even teamed up with a Soviet agent to take out the rogue operator (The Spy Who Loved Me).

The Marvel movies offer an ever-growing array of superheroes both natural (Iron Man) and supernatural (Thor) who, once you strip away the flashy elements, are essentially enforcement officers for the current world order, making sure that no one (or no thing) threatens that order. The first Avengers movie essentially re-purposed the 9/11 terror attacks into a morality play about cooperation, resistance, and triumph that the Pentagon would be happy to endorse. And it was directed and (re-)written by supposedly “enlightened” Joss Whedon, who created the female-empowerment television icon Buffy the Vampire Slayer.


#13

I agree, that’s why I’ve avoided such movies. And the 300 movie (and other movies by that director) are even worse! 300 is like a modern Top Gun


#14

Hard to get through this writing. Although she looks like her father with a wig on (lol), she doesn’t write nearly as eloquently as him.


#15

A nice enough review but I was glad to read a class conscious Black critique.


#17

Wait a minute, What about Egypt, it is part of Africa. They were doing brain surgery while European doctors were not even washing their hands.

“Egypt emerged as one of the world’s first nation states in the tenth millennium BC.[15] Considered a cradle of civilisation, Ancient Egypt saw some of the earliest developments of writing, agriculture, urbanisation, organised religion and central government. Iconic monuments such as the Giza Necropolis and its Great Sphinx, as well the ruins of Memphis, Thebes, Karnak, and the Valley of the Kings, reflect this legacy and remain a significant focus of scientific and popular interest. Egypt’s long and rich cultural heritage is an integral part of its national identity, which has endured, and often assimilated, various foreign influences, including Greek, Persian, Roman, Arab, Ottoman, and European. Egypt was an early and important centre of Christianity, but was largely Islamised in the seventh century and remains a predominantly Muslim country, albeit with a significant Christian minority.”