Friday, February 16, 2018

Socialist or Capitalist? Black Panther

It's so anticipated, projections are that Marvel's Black Panther could bring in $170 million this weekend. Critics--even those normally straying away from such topics--are all ready saying it's "politically charged," so the question for us is, which way will it go: pro-socialist, or pro-capitalist? To be perfectly honest, it's just too early to tell by what has been released, but we know important and relevant issues such as "building walls" and "sharing resources" are the primary topics Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa will have to contend with when he arrives in his home country to take the throne. At this point, from what I have seen--which is just some trailers and clips--I want to say it's actually going to be pro-capitalist, and that is not only based on what I have seen, but on liberal critics who have all ready seen the film and maybe didn't rate it quite as high as they would have if it were a pro-socialist film; this is shaky ground to base my estimation upon, so don't quote me on this. So, let's look at a few issues; first, why is there an all-female bodyguard for the king?
Many critics are comparing T'Challa to James Bond, and this casino scene is one of the main reasons. As I mention below, if this were going to be a pro-socialist film, T'Challa's leadership style would be exceedingly different from James Bond and would be more of Obama's style, as in, lack of leadership. Specifically channeling a white male, and Skyfall, which was immensely pro-capitalist, Black Panther doesn't seem to have anything nice to say about liberals or socialism. Further, in channeling Bond so much, the Western world knows James Bond as the defeater of socialism/communism--that has always been Bond's greatest show of strength because that's his greatest enemy--so T'Challa also, then, becomes a defeater of socialism/communism, NOT a proponent of socialism, as some are trying to make people believe, just because T'Challa is black. There's another important clue to the film's "real political identity": "You get to choose what kind of king you will be," Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o) tells T'Challa, and that emphasis on T'Challa's "free will" has nothing to do with socialism, or with the liberal movement. There is also constant reference to "Long live the king!" which is not at all what liberals and "progressives" are saying: they want the status quo completely torn down, and power holders--such as kings--dethroned. Unless, of course, they can take that throne for themselves. 
Feminists probably see all the women with weapons protecting the king as a feminist film--an echo of Wonder Woman and the Amazons, and it very well could be--however, there are at least two pro-capitalist explanations for it. The first is, an all-female protection squad best echoes the geographic reality of Wakanda. Anyone who has ever studied Russian history, or at least the Napoleonic wars, knows the reason Russia has never been conquered is because of "Mother Russia" and her ultimate weapon: winter. Anytime any tyrant invades Russia, all the Russians have to do is wait and coax the enemy into the interior of the country and then the enemy is screwed because the "motherland" is merciless in winter; it's possible we have the same theory here: Wakanda has been protected by its geography and the African terrain. Here is another look at the first trailer that was released:
The same geographic and topographical features which has "hidden" Wakanda's advancement for so many years has also protected it from the outside world, and that kind of protection is usually referred to as "feminine." So, just as "mother Africa" has protected Wakanda, it's fitting that women also protect Wakanda. Okay, second reason: who says you can't have strong women and strong men at the same time? Feminists. Watch this trailer--it's kind of long, and I apologize, but this is the only place I can find this clip, specifically at 2:13:
"You'll fight for us," and "I will be there beside you," isn't the kind of thing a feminist is going to stand for: why not? The feminist doesn't want strong men, she only wants strong women and for men to basically disappear. These female warriors in Black Panther are secure enough to know it doesn't matter who throws the winning punch, as long as it's their home country that wins, and, in that case, they all win. Now, let's turn our attention to one of the villains, Erik Killmonger (Michael B Jordan). He is the CLASSIC LIBERAL: I want to tear everything down, and take it all for myself. Black Panther really isn't hiding what they think of liberals--even if liberals can't see themselves in the villain--especially when we see Erik getting ready to blow something up and he puts on a mask of an animal, meaning, Erik himself is an animal.
The costumes in this scene play particularly well to the characters: both characters don layers, with a base layer and then at least a second layer. Erik (left) has a blue shirt, and armor for his second layer, while T'Challa (right) wears a black shirt with a purple shirt on top of that. Erik's blue shirt reveals depression, sadness, melancholy, as the motivating force for what he's doing, which is why he wears the armor: he's been hurt in the past and suspects he's going to get hurt again. T'Challa wears a black shirt--he has died to himself and what he wants--but also wears the purple; why? Purple is the color of suffering, which is why it's also the color of kings: it's believed a king should suffer for his people, rather than the people suffer for their king, which is what T'Challa plans on doing (remember, he didn't want to be king, but his father was murdered). These two men facing off, then, is a result of their life choices and the choices they have to make now in each other's presence.
On a different note, a scene in the trailers shows T'Challa geared up in the Black Panther suit, and one of the female leaders tells him, "Don't freeze," and T'Challa replies, "I never freeze." This is a rather bizarre exchange, except, we know that Erik comes from the frigid mountain region in the Wakanda area; so, when warned, "Don't freeze," it may actually mean, "Don't become like the people who want this technology to conquer everyone and then lord it over them, and don't use this technology for your personal aggrandizement," and T'Challa, knowing what she's talking about, promises he won't. The problem is, we the audience don't know what she's talking about, so we will have to figure it out, however, I am confident that little exchange has a greater significance than just a nod of nurturing fret as her king prepares to be dropped out into the sky with no parachute. 
Last, but certainly not least, we don't see Obama anywhere in these trailers. We don't see T'Challa playing golf while a crisis happens, we don't see him partying with celebrities or getting trying to divide his country; we don't see T'Challa "leading from behind," or trying to "fundamentally transform" what his country is, and if this were going to be a liberal film, we would probably see references to Obama. So what about "sharing resources" and "building walls" reputedly in the film? To me, it sounds like Wakanda is a country which is all ready borderline communist--since they hide everything from the world, rather like the USSR and the Iron Curtain--and T'Challa wants to make them more capitalist and open them to trade and freedom. Again, we've only seen a few trailers, but the isolation of Wakanda speaks more about Vietnam, North Korea, China, Eat Berlin, the USSR, etc., than the current US where innovation is rewarded and encouraged. There is one post-credits scene, so if you are going, be sure to wait for it! I ALL READY HAVE MY TICKET FOR FRIDAY AFTERNOON, so I am definitely seeing it Friday; get your tickets early because they are going fast! I will post an immediate reaction as soon as I have seen it!
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner