Friday, March 2, 2018

"I Accept Your Challenge!" Black Panther & the Villains Of the Left

The reason Wakanda is so important is because they mine vibranium, the hardest metal known which was discovered when an asteroid filled with the metal hit Africa. "Vibranium" suggests the word "vibrant," meaning, it's "filled with life" and the things which make life "good" and desirable; given the high-living standard of most Wakandans, this seems totally legit. So, the quest to obtain vibranium isn't so much about obtaining a single metal, rather, the qualities of life which give life quality and hence, vibrancy, a sense of being fully alive and maximizing one's potential. But if getting vibranium, and hence, quality of life, is the pursuit of the film, avoiding slavery is the simultaneous "fleeing" of the film and each character faces the dichotomy within their lives and the film's agenda for them. T'Challa and Nakia not only face this as individuals, but then also as a couple towards the end of the film: how to teach others what vibrancy of life is and then hold onto it, rather than falling for cheap imitations of life. For example, in the end credits scene, when T'Challa and his sister have traveled to Oakland, the kids playing basketball see T'Challa's,.... "spaceship," for lack of a better description, and one of the kids immediately suggests to the others to take it apart and sell it for profit. The little "thief-in-training" doesn't understand what the vibrancy of life is, and unfortunately, the little "thief-in-training" reflects the grown-up professional thieves, known as socialists, who want to steal the vibrancy of life from those who have worked for it and sell it as a dream to those who don't know any better, like those kids playing basketball.
If I am correct, and the film is definitely pro-capitalist, then why are there so many liberals praising the film? THEIR UNDERSTANDING OF LIBERAL IDEOLOGY ONLY GOES SKIN DEEP, in other words, they don't understand sufficiently what they have been told to support, so seeing a black man who actually goes against everything they have been taught to yell, shout and get angry about, literally goes unnoticed to them because they don't understand what they have been told to protest and vote against. That the film has done so well, and continues to do so well, clearly demonstrates that the majority of people identifying themselves as "liberals, progressives or Democrats" really don't uphold that agenda, not when it's presented to them in a real-world statement regarding villains and heroes (of course you can argue that a Marvel super-hero film isn't a "real-world statement," however, the horrible things Erik says, and those things which motivate him, are clearly coming from the Left, there can be no question about it, and likewise, those sentiments driving and sustaining T'Challa are clearly coming from the Conservative position, so while Marvel might not be a "real-world statement," there are TONS of examples in the film of actions and calls to action by the Left incorporated into the film's primary narrative to at least acknowledge the real-world influences). 
Over the years, Hollywood elite have bemoaned the growing attraction of block-buster super-hero films, for at least two reasons: first, those films generally support traditional, American values (and values supported by traditional audiences around the globe as well) and, secondly, those elites weren't lucky enough to be asked to be in the most recent block-buster. Black Panther has an incredible cast and delivers an incredible message, proving that these super-hero films aren't just for "mindless escapism," rather, a genuine forum for true dialogue surrounding today's most pressing issues.
In trailers and clips for the film, we see the man at the top image--wearing the greenish suit and sporting that huge disc in his mouth--and we can't help but wonder, "What's his role in the film?" then, when we see the film, and that he's really only a "silent" member of the King's council, we realize he's more of an elaborate prop character, meant to convey the exotic-ness of the Wakandan culture,... or is he? Through masterful storytelling skills and simple but efficient communication with the audience, we see the man in the greenish suit is a true symbol of Wakanda. We know the mouth symbolizes our appetites, and that huge disc practically prevents the man from eating anything; why? The tradition of Wakanda has been to be silent about their technological advances (another symbolic purpose of the disc in the man's mouth: silence, as in a "gag order," which is only loosened at the end when T'Challa visits Oakland and makes his UN announcement) and this is why Wakandans have that "identification bar code" tattooed on their inner, bottom lip, as an identifier that they are under the gag order not to say anything and they adhere to it. The man also has artificially elongated earlobes; why? They spy on other countries--hearing their secrets--but make the world believe they have no secrets of their own to hear. Technically, ears symbolize our ability to hear the truth, and we can say this carries over to the symbol of the mouth in Black Panther, because if they can't hear the truth, neither can they speak it, and this fine line of truthfulness threads its way through the entire film (don't believe me? Remember, when T'Challa is at the UN in the mid-credits scene, he says, "We all know the truth," but this is the first time in the film the truth has been able to be heard and spoken at the same time, and the journey of the film was T'Challa and Wakanda getting to this point; please remember this, because we will pick this thread back up by the end of this post). But the mouth, as we know, also symbolizes the appetites: just as the man's mouth is artificially elongated by the artificial disc, so Wakandans believe they have artificially righteous appetites by not taking anything from the rest of the world (consuming, taking in, they pretend to be a third world country, but accept no international aid) but they also don't help the world create a genuine appetite for their technology, wisdom and truth the vibranium can teach the world. What about the colors of the man's suit? He does wear a suit, a Western-style suit, not African, and the pants and jacket are a strange blue-green with his shirt being a yellowish-green. That he dresses like men in the US or Europe, means that's the attitude towards those countries Wakanda has taken (not sharing their technology) and this has been the way they have carried on business with the outside world, by NOT doing business with them. The blue-ish hue of the jacket and pants suggests that the Wakandans have seen this as an act of wisdom--they have practiced this silence for centuries--but the green undertones belies that they know there is something rotten about it; the yellow accent of the man's shirt suggests dignity, the Wakandans take great pride in their accomplishment and their "hidden identity" but, again, there is a green undertone to the shirt suggesting they know their dignity is based on something rotten, i.e., a lie.
Enter Nakia.
Nearly every time we see Nakia in the film, she wears green; why: green symbolizes that there is either hope through new life, or that something has died and turned rotten. The man in the green suit symbolizes the "death and rottenness" of Wakanda which threads its way throughout the story, whereas Nakia--as a young woman of child-bearing age--symbolizes the future of Wakanda which brings life and real hope to the Wakandans and all those Wakanda will help through the advantages they have. Now, if you think this means Wakanda is going to participate in "wealth redistribution," I understand why you think that, but it's incorrect (and the way the Black Panther suit with "energy redistribution" validates what I am going to say, but we will discuss that below): Wakanda is close to a communist society when T'Challa returns home to become king: think of the final fight between Erik and the civil war at the end of the film; Everett has to keep a plane loaded with weapons from "crossing the border" of Wakanda; why? Because communist societies build walls to keep people from escaping the country (think of China, Berlin, Vietnam) whereas the US is going to have to build a wall to keep people from coming into the country. Communist societies don't share anything with the world, they keep everything to themselves, whereas the US is probably the most generous country in the history of humanity because we give aid to everyone all the time, and this includes everything from food to technology to medical supplies to clothing and military aid. So Wakanda is turning away from a kind of communist ideology towards the role of a world-wide superpower, because after Wakanda opens its bank of technological advancements, they are going to be an international leader in the world. That's why it's important Nakia becomes the queen of Wakanda: she will be the symbol of generosity and freedom which was lacking in the old, communist regime of Wakanda.
In the pre-viewing post, analyzing trailers and clips, I made a mistake: I suggested we weren't going to be seeing any Barack Hussein Obama in the film; he's everywhere in the film; he IS the film's villain, Erik Killmonger (Michael B Jordan), because so much of what Killmonger orders echoes what Obama himself did, or at least tried to do; however, Black Panther doesn't just finger Obama as a terrorist of civilization: Hillary Clinton is indicted as well. The rest of this post contains all the film's spoilers, so PLEASE, if you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor and see the film, then come back and read the post because it will be well worth it!
Let's start with Hillary Clinton.
Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) of the CIA and Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) are really the only two white people in the film (sure, there's the museum director, Stan Lee's obligatory cameo and some entourage muscle, but for the most part, this is it). The limitations of the white representation helps to draw out the dichotomy of good and evil: Everett is diplomatic and serves the greater cause while Klaue serves only himself. This isn't because they are white: we see the exact same dichotomy between Erik and T'Challa; this is a choice each person makes for themselves regardless of what their skin color is. We know this, but the film makes a dramatic point of telling us, and especially to a pre-dominantly black audience. This is why the image at the top--Klaue's feet handcuffed to the chair--is the most important visual image of the entire film.
We know that feet symbolize the will, and the color black--the color of Klaue's shoes--symbolize death, and given that Klaue is an obvious villain, it's the bad death, meaning, Klaue's will (his feet) is directed towards being dead to things of the spirit (the virtues) and alive to things of this world (in his case, greed). So, Klaue's feet being chained play off the numerous references to "slavery" throughout the film: Klaue has made himself a slave to his own greed, and that abuse of his free will (choosing to be a slave rather than to be free of worldly things) is a choice confronting us all. But it gets worse. Those chains are meant for hands, so it's not just Klaue's will (his feet) which are enslaved, but also his honor (the symbol of hands), in other words, Klaue has no honor since he has chosen to be a slave. This is radically important, but this is the film's true definition of slavery, and why T'Challa is so disappointed in his father for acting dishonorably towards Erik after Erik's father's death. Any person can be a economic slave, as the slaves exported from Africa were, but still have their free will and honor; any person can pretend to be free, like Erik who chose to become a Navy SEAL and graduate from MIT, but Erik chooses to be enslaved to his will to hate and his insatiable appetite for revenge (more on this below). It's the human condition, the film tells us, to choose between freeing ourselves with our decisions, or enslaving ourselves with our appetites.
Klaue wears a predominantly blue suit; why? Blue symbolizes wisdom and sadness, because wisdom can only be purchased through our struggles in life. Klaue indeed exercises some kind of wisdom in this scene: he is the only foreigner who has made it out of Wakanda, and seen the marvels therein. It's his depression, however, which has led him to the line of business in which he trades (this is, after all, a business suit) and that business is stealing and murdering.
What about Klaue's left arm? The Marvel universe has a thing for left arms: Bucky Barnes (the Winter Soldier) had a mechanical left arm, and Thanos (who we properly meet in Infinity War) wears the Infinity Gauntlet on his left arm. Why? If you do a simple search on Google of "witchcraft and the left hand path," it will detail for you the history of witchcraft and Satanism using the "left hand path" to identify their "activities." It's not a coincidence that the political Left--liberals, progressives and Democrats--also identify themselves as "the Left," or "Left-wing," or that films in recent years have compared the political Left with witchcraft and Satanism (Warcraft, Godzilla, The Conjuring 2, Independence Day, Sherlock Holmes, Devil's Due, Ghostbusters [the remake], The Mummy, Gods Of Egypt and King Arthur Legend Of the Sword, to name those I can remember off the top of my head) and in Marvel having bad guys indicative of the socialist order having "left arm problems," Marvel has joined this list. So, how does Klaue embody the socialist order? Yes, he appears to be a business man and appears, therefore, to be a capitalist, however, his left arm with its Vibranium "cannon," is unnatural, and that is the signature of socialism: to destroy  the natural order and replace it with the artificial (like replacing a natural family of a husband, wife and child, with two husbands and an adopted child, for example). Further, the name "Klaue" is meant to invoke "claw," the animal claw, because Ulysses Klaue has reduced himself to an animal, which is exactly what socialists want to be: animals, with no conscious to shame them, and no free will to burden them (they want shame-free slavery to their appetites). The obvious rebuttal to this observation is: "So, what about T'Challa taking on the traits of the Black Panther? He becomes this animal, does that make him a socialist?" and the answer is no, but we shall discuss this topic below because it requires us to really examine what is going on with the character.
In the middle image, where Klaue speaks to Everett, I put in a red arrow indicating the open wound across his forehead. This is an interesting "compound symbol," because the face, the head, the forehead and the wound all have their own symbolic representations. If we interpret the gashing wound just on its own, it becomes a spiritual wound, a wound which is basically self-inflicted because of the poor decisions Klaue has made throughout his life (and because he dies in the next one or two scenes, we know these are accurate observations because a character never dies unless they are "all ready dead," and that is "dead in the spirit" so they aren't able to live life fully). The scar is on the forehead, so we could interpret that to be Klaue has developed a spiritual wound making it impossible for him to see the consequences of his actions (the forehead represents our ability to "foreshadow," and understand what is going to happen in the future). Then again, we don't have to limit the wound to just the forehead, we can, instead, interpret it as being on his face; since the face is the seat of our identity, we can say that Klaue's "true identity" reveals itself in this scene as being a man who will sell out others for his own sake (Wakanda) and his a bit crazy (the wound on his head, his intellect is damaged). However, we could also say Klaue has "lost face," and that would appropriately refer to Klaue being foolish enough to make a deal to sell Vibranium to the CIA (Klaue mentions this when he and Erik arrive at the plane). Then again, we could simply observe the wound to be on Klaue's head, and since the head is the governing function of the body, we then observe that Klaue has lost control over himself. There is not a single one of these interpretations which are invalid, they each provide their own unique spin on this simple detail of the gash across his forehead, and, we can now use it to compare to Everett. In spite of T'Challa being difficult about wanting to take Klaue back to Wakanda, Everett uses diplomacy, showing Everett isn't just concerned about himself, but understands the needs of others as well; likewise, Everett is able to get more information out of Klaue then Klaue probably realizes he's giving, providing Everett with some power Everett knows how to use to his advantage. Lastly, we come to know more about Everett's character as a result of this scene, because there is more to know. Everett doesn't wear very dramatic clothing because he's not a dramatic character, he wants to fit in rather than draw attention to himself, but he doesn't hesitate to save Nakia from the bullets when Erik starts firing shots in rescuing Klaue. 
We learn, through two different scenes in the film, that T'Challa's uncle, N'Jobu, who was living in Oakland, California, was assisting Ulysses Klaue in obtaining vibranium to sell as weapons; N'Jobu, then, was committing treason, and we see this in the real life of Hillary Clinton, presidential nominee, who sold uranium to Russia for their weapon development. Just as N'Jobu's son, Erik Killmonger (Michael B Jordan) was left, so, too were the "children" of Hillary Clinton, those who had voted for her, and as Erik reeks havoc on Wakanda, so, too, have the "disenfranchised children" of Hillary, upset she didn't win the election. We'll go deeper into this in just a moment, but to get a better understanding on the political turning of the screw Black Panther achieves, let's turn to how the film draws our attention to Barack Obama and his actions on the world.
There is absolutely NOTHING more masculine than a man fighting another man to the death for the right to rule. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Why do we have these scenes? Because of all the "toxic masculinity of white men" which has been circulating the news and especially college campuses, where more and  more liberal schools offer indoctrination for helping their white male students overcome the effects of their white male toxic masculinity. Well, Black Panther makes a statement loud and clear: masculinity isn't reserved for white men, all men are masculine, regardless of their skin color, and all men have testosterone, regardless of their skin color; mess with white men, you mess with black men, too. The film makes it clear that a king who can't fight isn't a king, and when M'Baku challenges T'Challa before T'Challa can be crowned, M'Baku has legitimate reasons for challenging T'Challa (there is more on M'Baku below), one of those reasons being that T'Challa couldn't even save his own father, so how can T'Challa protect Wakanda? The issue of a man being able to protect is especially important given the king of Wakanda has an all-female body-guard (more on them below as well). The king must be able to protect in order for other Wakandans to do their job, this is the whole reason for the king also being the Black Panther, so he can protect. Traditionally, this has been men's primary role in relationships: to protect those he loves who cannot protect themselves; however, we have advanced so far, there are many options replacing men, so a man's need to protect isn't felt as desperately as it has been in the past. Black Panther points out, however, that there are growing threats in the world against justice and civilization itself, and men protecting the order of justice and civilization is being threatened with the simultaneous attack on those men who would stand up to protect it.
Now, what's going on in these scenes?
There are two primary symbols which we need to explore: the rocks and the water. Like most symbols, rocks posses both positive and negative attributes: for example, the rocks symbolize the kingship of Wakanda in that the king must be steadfast and his heart solid in his beliefs and understanding of his role as king; on the negative side, if a king permits his heart to become hardened like a rock, he will fail, himself and his country. So, the test of manhood for the throne comes down to the king's heart: does he have a solid heart, or a heart dehumanizing him (again, we also see this in the coronation ceremony when the king is buried and he has a vision, but we will discuss this below). What about the water? The water provides the means by which a man knows what kind of heart he has. Now, we should not, under any circumstances, ignore the Christian symbols: when the reigning king has the power of the Black Panther removed from him, this is clearly an allusion to Jesus Christ suspending His Divine Nature (being God) so He could suffer and die as a mortal does. The water in which the "contestants" for the throne of Wakanda battle invokes the mystery of Baptism, especially when Jesus was Baptized and the Holy Spirit came down upon Him, just as, when T'Challa defeats M'Baku, T'Challa is then crowned king as Jesus was crowned the Son of God. Okay, on a more mundane level, water symbolizes the first of three stages of inner-reflection on the hero's journey to successfully completing whatever his task is. T'Challa has to SEE HIMSELF and what Wakanda really is, and he has to be willing to become one with Wakanda. When Erik throws T'Challa over the side of the waterfall, that symbolizes the second of the three phases, because there is mist/fog symbolizing what is being hidden; sure, T'Challa's fate as he falls over the edge of the water, but also T'Challa's fate in terms of the king he will become and the actions he will take as king; without Erik's challenge to the throne, and T'Challa's "good heart" (as his father points out to T'Challa when T'Challa takes his mystical journey to visit the kings before him) means these moments of reflection (the challenges he has to overcome in the water, then the mist/fog of the waterfall) will form the man T'Challa will become (this is finalized in the third stage of reflection: snow; when his mother, sister and Nakia are taken to T'Challa and he's half buried in the snow, this is the moment of his final reflection and he's born anew; again, more on this below). 
When we first see Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o), she's been "kidnapped," along with many of females and at least one young boy; why? This incident references the real life 2014 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping by the terrorist organization Boko Haram in Nigeria. While Obama could have ordered an attack on the group and Navy SEALS to man a rescue operation, instead, he did nothing but launch a Twitter hashtag campaign called #BringBackOurGirls. While the tragedy took place in Nigeria, it was felt strongly here, in America, because we have a tradition of helping when terrible things like this happen; to see our president set back and act utterly helpless, compounded the tragedy and enraged conservatives that he would promote victim-hood and helplessness over the defeat of these terrorists.
Enter T'Challa.
What do masks symbolize? Masks don't necessarily symbolize anything--unless the mask itself is of a symbol--rather, masks reveal the true nature of the person wearing it. In the image at the top, T'Challa wears the mask of the Black Panther; why? He is the Black Panther, in his heart, that is who he is, the ultimate symbol of protection and kingship. In the center image, we see Erik putting on an ancient mask he stole earlier from the museum, just before blowing up the Intelligence Headquarters in South Korea to extract Klaue from Everett's custody. Erik's mask is of an animal or even a demon, take your pick, but that reveals who he is in his inner-most being.This is why, after their respective crownings as kings, T'Challa sees what he sees, and Erik sees what he sees.
The first time T'Challa is crowned King of Wakanda, he is given the purple, heart-shaped herb to take on the powers of the Black Panther; why? Purple is a color we see used throughout the film, and we will discuss it more below (in the next series of images) but for the moment, purple symbolizes kingship. Why is it in the shape of a heart? Because it's from the heart that courage, wisdom and a desire for justice (not revenge) comes; to drink or eat something means you are taking it in and making it a part of you within your soul (not just your body). After he drinks the liquid to give him the powers, he is covered up from head to toe with red gravel/dirt; why? This is an awesome compound symbol at work. People aren't usually "buried" unless they are dead, so T'Challa, now that he's king, is expected to die; die to what? Himself, so he can be the embodiment of Wakanda and all the virtues of the Black Panther; ironically, dying to himself means he will become T'Challa more than before T'Challa died, because any weakness and sin will be washed away, and only the pure essence of T'Challa's being will remain (imagine that T'Challa's soul is water, and there is oil [sin] in the water; when all the oil is removed, there is only the water, that is, his pure soul). The gravel with which T'Challa, then Erik, is buried re-enforces the idea of the king's heart being a solid rock, and the king being dependable for his people--rather than Erik's heart being hard as rock with desire for revenge. The rocks are red because the king is expected to give his blood for Wakanda, the ultimate act of love, just as the members of the Dora Milaje are. There is just one more facet of the ritual to consider: the praising of ancestors.
Why do the Wakandas keep saying, "Praise the ancestors?" For one, it's a sign of gratitude, and gratitude is something we never see from Erik; two, it's a recognition that someday, they, too, will be ancestors, and they had better do deeds worthy of future generations so they will be praised with other ancestors (so there is a system of "good debt," that is, recognizing that those currently living owe a debt of gratitude to those who came before them, and it is with their gratitude they are to repay the debt). In terms of modern US--because films reflect the social context in which they are created and marketed--it's the conservative Americans who "praise the ancestors," aka, the Founding Fathers, for providing us with the Constitution and the government we have, the same government and Constitution which socialists are desperately trying to overthrow, because socialists don't "praise the ancestors," socialists curse them, as they curse everyone who is not on their side. We see this same "kind" of remembering of those who came before you in The Dark Tower: "Remember the face of your father," is meant to not only invoke the love your father has for you, but all that he did to help you grow up and mature (and for those who grew up without a father, for example, because he didn't meet his responsibility in helping to raise you, it's meant to invoke, remember what it was like to NOT see the face of your father, so don't cut-out on your obligations like he did, because you have experienced what that is like).
So, once "buried," T'Challa enters a spiritual or mystical state in which he sees the past kings and his own father; why? It suggests there is both a continuity with the past--the past isn't just something we can re-write and change to fit our whims--and a breaking with the past that comes with the crowning of the new king. When T'Challa enters this state, he wears a gleaming white tunic; why? We can call that his "wedding garment," because he's being wedded to Wakanda. We know the color white symbolizes the highest virtues: purity, faith, innocence (from rage and other sins) as well as fulfilling your soul's capacity for virtue. T'Challa sees his father, because that is where T'Challa's heart is, filled with an understanding of his responsibility and duty to serve others. On the other hand, when Erik goes through this ritual, he returns back to his Oakland apartment where he grew up and he has an awkward discussion with his dad with whom he doesn't seem to have any kind of bond, and this is important: Erik isn't particularly sad that his father was murdered, and he certainly isn't concerned that his father committed treason against Wakanda, or was aiding dangerous terrorists, or tried to kill an innocent man; socialists are never concerned with details that bring the light of truth onto their self-righteous narratives. Erik used his father's death as a vehicle for his own greedy designs; why? Because those are the type of people attracted to socialism and the retribution they have decided they deserve. So, we have T'Challa with his sense of duty and responsibility and we have Erik with his sense of entitlement and revenge.
These scenes do something else: they validate the existence of the soul. Regardless of what religious system to which one does or does not subscribe, these mystical experiences are meant to illustrate the existence of the soul, to which socialists do not subscribe; why not? Socialism cannot admit the existence of God because the government takes the place of God, and the government may demand individuals do or not do something which would contradict the precepts of various religions, so a socialist government will always ban religion so the government can take that place and issue their own commands. In providing us scenes where we see the soul interacting with other souls (and because these are past kings who greet T'Challa, we know they are the souls of those kings) the film makers boldly state that socialism is inherently contradicting the law of immortality to which all people are subject for eternity.
T'Challa takes control, he takes the lead and he puts himself in the line of fire and danger, rather than playing golf, partying with celebrities or posing for photo ops. T'Challa is a leader who puts his country before himself, unlike Obama who put himself before his country and tried to teach everyone else to do the same (more on this important topic below). Why is this important? For at least two reasons: first, T'Challa exhibiting such prominent leadership skills highlights that Obama was NOT a leader, and that Obama's weakness is not a trait to be emulated by anyone, including black people, just because Obama is black. Second, black people have choices, and choosing not to be a victim is one of them. Now, you may argue, the only reason T'Challa went to save those girls was because his intent was to extract Nakia, and freeing the kidnapped girls was merely a by-product.
That's not what happens.
The symbolism for purple weaves itself throughout the narrative, from T'Challa's suit when it receives energy to T'Challa's clothes, the purple heart-shaped herb providing the king with the Black Panther strength and the priest who guards over that power. Why? In ancient days, the color purple was excessively expensive to produce, so only a king could afford to wear the color, hence, purple because a sign of royalty; after the spread of Christianity, and Jesus the "Suffering King," the idea of the king being one who would willingly suffer for his people became a popular and understood role of the royal leaders. So, purple symbolizes greatness achieved through suffering. Now, when a character, such as The Joker (Jared Leto) from Suicide Squad wears purple, that's a sign the character wants to be treated like royalty expressly to avoid suffering. Purple, then, becomes a symbol of shallowness and the gaudy, because one lacks wisdom because there is no spiritual development or the desire to mature and grow.
Now, we can discuss the "purple heart-shaped herb" which gives Black Panther the power, strength and courage to defend Wakanda. Why is in an herb and not some other plant? Herbs serve not only medicinal purposes, but also add a "spice" to whatever it is one is eating; this goes back to vibranium and the idea of "vibrancy" in life, to have a spicy, well-tasting dish one enjoys eating (as their portion in life, not just one time). On the other hand, the medicinal qualities of herbs clearly suggests that partaking of the Black Panther herb will heal the one it enters into, and this includes sin and other impurities of heart. So, what about Erik? Why didn't the herb "heal" Erik when he took it? Free will. There was the opportunity to accept healing, twice for Erik, but both times he rejects it. The first time is after he is given the Black Panther herb during the coronation ritual, and he goes back to see his father; Erik briefly sheds some tears, and tears are important, because--in the English language--the word "tear," for water coming out of one's eyes, also sounds like the word "tear," as in to tear a piece of paper; in the images above this one we are currently discussing, we see Erik wearing the mask of the animal, and it was possibly for Erik, during his coronation, to "tear away" that animal mask and assume the true role of the Black Panther,.... but Erik couldn't become Black Panther because he was all ready that animal-demon we saw earlier in the film. The second time Erik refuses healing is at the end, when T'Challa has defeated him, and T'Challa takes Erik to see the Wakandan sunset; listening to Erik, T'Challa is moved to pity and tells Erik, "Perhaps we can still heal you," and yes, T'Challa does mean "heal" as in fix the bodily damage, as they did earlier with Everett, however, Everett's wounds were far more severe and they were healed without any problems; "Perhaps," rather, refers to healing Erik's heart, and T'Challa sees the good in Erik's heart for that fleeting moment because of the good within T'Challa's own heart. It's a sad truth that, whatever someone sees in someone else, they see because they reflect their own heart and motivations onto that person: Erik sees only bad in people because there is really only sin and anger within his own heart for him to be able to filter and organize his life experiences through. T'Challa sees good in others because of the good within himself. So, when T'Challa suggests healing to Erik, T'Challa means healing Erik's heart of the anger and insatiable hunger for revenge which has driven Erik his whole life. Erik refuses. This is the second time Erik employs his free will to choose to not be healed, which means, that Erik has been a slave to his "sickness" the entire film, just as we saw Klaue chained to his chair in the image towards the top of the post, which is intentional on the film's part: Erik wants to be buried in the ocean instead of living a life of slavery, but that's because Erik doesn't understand freedom, and he doesn't understand freedom because he has never wanted freedom, he chooses to be enslaved to his dark side, and so Erik dies a slave. Tellingly, Erik commits suicide; why? Because Erik has been self-sabotaging himself the entire film: it doesn't matter who was or who was not there for him, because he would have chosen to ignore it and failed to be grateful, choosing instead, to continuously kill himself throughout all the potential moments when he could have experienced conversion and made a real, meaningful change, in his own life and the world. Sadly, this is exactly what we see in the lives of those who choose to join the socialist movement.
So, the reason the purple, heart-shaped herb is "heart-shaped," is because the herb has to have "good material" with which to work: it obviously doesn't work on someone who distorts their free will, like Erik, making him sicker because that's his understanding of what power is, because that's what his heart hungers for; T'Challa, on the other hand, will continue to find strength, wisdom and all other virtues because that is what his heart hungers for so he can do the right thing in the world. Finally, as we have been discussing, the "purple, heart-shaped herb" is purple because of suffering. "It's difficult for a good man, with a good heart, to be king," T'Challa's father tells his son before his son awakens; what is left unsaid, but what the film shows us, is that it's impossible for a bad man, with a bad heart, to be king, because that man is a slave. When a good man, with a good heart, becomes king, he has to continuously undergo suffering--for the betterment of himself and the good of his people--and being only a "man," and nothing more, it becomes difficult to constantly live in a state of suffering. 
We know, dear reader, that women of child-bearing age--which Nakia is, symbolize the motherland, the land which gives birth to us. All of the girls in those cargo jeeps are of child-bearing age, so all of them symbolize the "motherland" of these different African tribes, and even of the world; in other words, this scene foreshadows what T'Challa does at the United Nations in the mid-credits scene: in freeing Nakia from the kidnappers, T'Challa frees Wakanda from the gag order, and freeing the other girls from the kidnappers frees the other countries and nations as well. This is why T'Challa's decision to share Wakanda's resources and knowledge with the rest of the world isn't a socialist action: it's a populist action, not meant to put the whole world under the rule of the European Union, or George Soros, the Rockefellers, Illuminati or whoever it really is trying to merge all the world's countries into one and end our individual identities as sovereign countries. The technology is going to help people excel so they can better protect themselves, not digress into mediocrity and victim-hood (which is what socialism wants). T'Challa wants the world's citizens to be one family bound by love, not bound by power, nor tyranny, authority or the international socialism. T'Challa hopes to reach out to the people of the world and touch their individuality, their genius, their curiosity, their capacity for creativity and their dignity as humans, so that respect of life and individuality will spread throughout the world and end the spread of the very real political aims of establishing international socialism.
But back to Obama.
There are at least three more references to Obama's Administration in the film. The first is when Erik, after supposedly killing T'Challa and becoming king, orders vibranium weapons to be sent to Wakandan war dogs throughout the world so they can begin carrying out acts of terrorism against the United States, Great Britain and European countries. During 2010, Obama's shipping of guns to Mexico became known as the "Fast and Furious Scandal,"  and we can even cite Obama's disastrous "Iran Peace Deal" in which he gave money to Iran, a known terrorist country. But this leads us to our second point,....
"Refugees," come up in the film when T'Challa discusses what Wakanda can do to help others in the world, and T'Challa notes, "Refugees being their problems with them," and between Obama and Hillary destabilizing Syria, they sent those refugees throughout the world to destabilize other countries, just as Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) pointed out how Erik was doing what he was trained to do. "Well, then, if the CIA trained Erik to do those things, it can't be pinned on Obama, that's an American problem!" Absolutely. Nearly every country--including fictional Wakanda--has trained military and intelligence personnel proficient at such political manipulations which they employ on behalf of their respective countries, not on behalf of individuals taking over governments for themselves to achieve a greater theater for global war, which is what Erik attempts in the film, and what Obama and company were trying to do for international socialism. This leads us to our third, and perhaps, saddest point of comparison.
"Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country," Democratic President John F. Kennedy told Americans--and the whole world--inspiring people to patriotism and unity; during the eight years of the Obama Administration, Obama encouraged through speeches and legislation to encourage belligerence and self-entitlement, so people would only be concerned with what their country was going to do for them. Additionally, Obama and members of his administration took every opportunity to stoke conflict and clash between economic classes, educational classes, generations, the sexes, various special interest minority groups against the conservative majority as well as snide comments to anger sides against each other over social issues (gender neutral bathrooms, the Trayvon Martin shooting, and countless riots across the country (Ferguson, Baltimore, Brooklyn, LA to name a few and, of course, Oakland, where Black Panther partially takes place). Throughout the entire film, Erik Killmonger uses racially charged language and, like Obama, charges people for crimes based on their skin color, not on their individual innocence or guilt. The division and violence we see between Obama and Erik takes place in two female characters' deaths.
Erik's "girlfriend" Linda (Nabiyah Be; she's unnamed in the film, but she helps him at the museum and to break out Klaue from the CIA) is grabbed by Klaue and used as a human shield when Klaue realizes Erik plans to kill him; "I'm sorry," Linda tells Erik, and he shrugs it off. Linda assumes Erik will "deal" with Klaue so Linda can go safely, but Linda has fulfilled her purpose for Erik and can't be of use to him anymore--Klaue has far more value to Erik--so Erik kills her while killing Klaue, sacrificing her for his own agenda. On the other hand, when the civil war in Wakanda breaks out, Erik himself grabs one of the female warriors of the Dora Milaje and uses her as a human shield, threatening to kill her if any of the other Dora Milaje members try to hurt him; what does that warrior do? "Wakanda forever!" and she sacrifices herself, knowing her fellow warriors must kill Erik or he will destroy their country. When W'Kabi is cornered by his love Okoye and she threatens to kill him, he asks, "Would you choose Wakanda over me, my love?" and she responds, "Without question." The loyalty and patriotism to their country is seen in countless examples throughout the film and is what every person throughout the world is called to emulate, not the selfishness of Erik or Klaue, because their actions lead to exactly what we see happen in Wakanda: civil war.
Erik, and his real-life counterparts, socialists/communists and feminists, constantly yell and scream about inequalities of power, but you never hear them discuss the greatest power there is: love, and the fruit of love, forgiveness. Remember, Erik is a clear metaphor of the Black Panther Political Party which was born in Oakland, California, just as Erik was; but the film contrasts the power-hungry and self-serving Black Panther Political Party with the self-less and pure-hearted Black Panther king and leader of Wakanda: they are meant to mirror the other in vice and virtue, just as Barack Obama was meant to be a King T'Challa for his people, but instead became an Erik Killmonger.
Socialists will, of course, look at this first mid-credits scene and say the entire film is pro-socialist because they don't have a vocabulary reflecting reality: T'Challa says "share" not "give," meaning, that Wakanda will retrain possession and ownership of their technology, they aren't going to just give it to anyone who comes up for a hand out. It's also important to note the important details of the end of the film and this mid-credits scene: when T'Challa takes his sister to Oakland, one of the little boys wants to steal parts from T'Challa's "spaceship" to resell for his own profit, whereas T'Challa intends for Wakandan resources to be offered to help those who will help themselves, that is, teach and educate those in disadvantaged areas, don't just give them stuff the way the Left and Democrats do, and there certainly isn't anything about giving these kids weapons, the way Erik would have done. This scene, at the UN, is meant to establish that Wakanda is going to become a leader in the world, rather than, for example, Obama's style of "leading from behind," and not being a "great nation," rather, helping the world by being an impoverished nation of farmers; instead, T'Challa makes the difficult choice to become a target of people like Obama and Hillary because T'Challa wants Wakanda's greatness to be the world's greatness, that everyone will be lifted up and succeed as much as they possibly can, not--as the socialists want--for everyone to be torn down in an effort to make every person as mediocre as possible (please consider the "means to equality" in this newest update to Fahrenheit 451).
Now, let's consider this in relation to a very specific word used in the film: redistribution. In contemporary vocabulary, when "redistribution" is used, it generally means, take from those who have a lot, and give to those who hate those who have a lot. In Black Panther, we see "redistribution" employed in a different context: energy. The Black Panther suit Shuri designs for her brother "redistributes energy": when T'Challa takes a hit, the suit organizes that energy and then allows him to recycle that energy. This is easily a Christian tenet: when someone curses you, you bless them. T'Challa doesn't fight individuals, The Black Panther fights evil, and when T'Challa is hit, his strength of character and cultivated virtue allows him to destroy the evil trying to overcome him, and this is exactly what each and everyone of us has to do. THIS IS WHY THE BLACK PANTHER SUIT TURNS PURPLE WHEN THERE IS "ENERGY REDISTRIBUTION" TAKING PLACE: THAT ENERGY IS ACTUALLY SUFFERING, BUT BY DYING TO HIMSELF (the suit is black, so that's a symbol of death) THE BLACK PANTHER GAINS GREATER POWER TO DEFEAT EVIL WITHIN HIMSELF AND IN THE WORLD.
We see this in the subtle way debts are paid back in the film. When Everett takes a bullet in his spinal cord for Nakia, T'Challa recognizes he owes Everett a debt for saving his love, so T'Challa gives life back to Everett who saved Nakia's life. Likewise, when M'Baku challenges T'Challa's leadership, T'Challa recognizes that M'Baku is a good leader and his people need him, so instead of killing M'Baku so M'Baku won't pose a threat to T'Challa's throne in the future, T'Challa urges M'Baku to yield so T'Challa can pay back leadership with a leader.
T'Challa is going to help the world by showing how Wakanda became great, so others can become great as well,... there is absolutely NOTHING socialist about that at all.
The truth is, all of us have access to the purple, heart-shaped herb which gives the king the powers of the Black Panther: it's called LIFE. When T'Challa says, "I accept your challenge," he knows it could mean death for him, but he also knows that he and he only can be the king and choose what kind of king he will be, and each of us is the king of our own free will; people like Erik abandon free will to be slaves to circumstances. The trials, sufferings and obstacles which we encounter on a day-to-day basis is the drinking of that same herb, and either we will be healed by those sufferings, or we will choose to become sick with hatred, envy and lies, and use our powers to destroy others and ultimately ourselves. I am thrilled the film has done so well: it suggests that people on both sides of the massive and growing political divide in the are seeing the film and embracing its message. We still have a long ways to go, but perhaps this super-hero will accomplish what the others have failed to realize: unity.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner