How Black Panther Echoes Afrofuturism and Disses French-Speaking Africa

Comments

1
But Ryan Coogler meant that right? Every time somebody says "Black Panther *really* means..." they talk as if there is some huge subtext that Coogler totally didn't mean to have.

Pretty sure Ryan Coogler knew exactly how much of a hero he was creating when he wrote, or co-wrote, every fucking word that comes out of Killmonger's mouth. When he chose to cast Michael B. Jordan and not William Jonathan Drayton Jr. for the role. One hears that Mr. Coogler has a certain set of skills when it comes to, shall we say... directing? Have you heard of this? It's been in the papers. Coogler is known for knowing which end of the camera is which. He is known for giving pertinent instructions to the gaffer and the grip, and which is which.

It is said Coogler is accomplished in the art of editing. He dabbles in the field of lighting as well. have you heard? Pretty sure if Ryan Coogler wanted Killmonger to be unsympathetic and make the audience want to barf, he could have figured out a way to say that, in the, what do you call it? The language of film.
2
I wonder sincerely why there are no African artists on the soundtrack. Someone like Spoek Mathabout or one of Fela's children.
3
@1

When critics debate the meaning of a film, they aren't suggesting that the filmmaker didn't understand what the film is really about.

You ask a question, assume the answer, and then proceed to rant about the incorrect answer that you have given yourself.

What exactly are you trying to accomplish here?

It seems to me that you just want an opportunity to yell at a black man.

@Charles
Thank you for the shout outs to the Detroit music scene.
I really wish more people knew how important Cybotron's work was to techno, and electronic music as a whole.

4
But he survived the streets, and became a militant and woke black American with the goal of liberating all oppressed people with the secret black technology developed in his father's homeland, the East African country of Wakanda.

Charles, in this piece at the Huffington Post, Dwayne Wong (Omowale) writes:

In the Black Panther comics Wakanda is the only African nation to have never been colonized by the European imperialists. Unlike other African nations, Wakanda escaped the brutality and destructive nature of European colonial rule. This, along with Wakanda’s rich natural resources, allowed Wakanda to become the most advanced nation in the world. Wakanda is an interesting look at where African nations could have been had it not been for colonialism,

Note that he says it's an "interesting" look. "Interesting" doesn't take a position. He doesn't offer an opinion as to whether he feels it's a "likely" look (or a "not likely" look, or a "just as likely" look.) What do you think? Do you think that, if colonialism had never happened, it's quite likely that an African nation would have become the most advanced nation in the world? Or that many African nations would have become just as advanced (or nearly as advanced) as the United States, Germany and Japan?

Absent colonialism, is it very likely (or even somewhat likely) that Apple would have sprung from a "Steve Jobs" somewhere in Africa? That Boeing and Airbus would be headquartered in Africa? That an African country would have put the first person on the moon?
5
Anyone who knows anything at all about techno should know Juan Atkins invented it. This is entry-level knowledge.

I lived in Detroit in the 90s and at the time our local heroes had more respect and a bigger fanbase pretty much everywhere else in the world than at home. I think that may have changed since the DEMF/Movement fest brought more local attention to it but I’ve been living in California since then and don’t get back to MI much.
6
@5
"I think that may have changed since the DEMF/Movement fest brought more local attention to it..."

A little, but not much.
From what I hear, most Detroit techno is still more respected in Europe than it is here in Detroit.

As far as what should be entry-level knowledge about techno music, I doubt very many young people listening to EDM understand the history of techno or electronic music.
I'm pretty sure that can be said about any genre of music though.
7

@5

Also, the Belleville three aren't really from Detroit, they're from Belleville, which is a suburb of Detroit.

8
"Yell at a black man"? Listen to yourself, dude.

"I found myself wondering how a film touted as a breakthrough for people of colour could be so primitive when it came to questions of justice and legitimate violence." Azad Essa, IOL.co.za

The *film* is primitive bout questions of legitimate violence? "The film" is what told you that Killmonger has a fucking point. It's in the film because Ryan Coogler put it there. "The film", i.e., Ryan Coogler, is not primitive about questions of violence. Coogler is quite sophisticated and nuanced on the hard questions. Did you not see Creed? Or Fruitvale Station? That's *why* everybody and their brother noticed that maybe Killmonger is the real hero. Or at least, maybe T'Challa isn't all that. Obviously T'Challa has a lot to learn from Killmonger because we *literally* see T'Challa learn something from Killmonger and act on it.

Coogler is not fucking naive. He knows exactly what metaphor he is invoking when you "drop out of the sky" literally, and plop a fancy school and condescending aid in the middle of the ghetto. Coogler gets the subtext because *he put it there*.

You know how in the X-Men Magneto is constantly rehashing the same fucking argument with Professor X about peaceful coexistence and the right of a minority to fight for itself? How that never seems to get resolved? Because Marvel doesn't every resolve it. Marvel's whole point is that that is the subtext. They want to tell stories about that unresolved question.

They also want to tell stories about the unresolved question of Iron Man's libertarian self-suffcicney and refusal to let himself eve co-opted by the government against Captain America's New Deal near-socialism. And then -- waaaaaaaait! -- now Tony Stark wants everyone to be socialist and sign the Sokovia Accords! What's up Marvel?

Obviously Marvel is Marvel. Both are heroes. Both are right. Both are wrong. They write stories decade after decade about the same thing because their setups are all bout *unresolvable paradoxes*.

All this OMG I just figured out who the REAL hero of Black Panther is is blinkered. It's not respectful to the talent of Ryan Coogler, and it's blind to the plot of literally every single other Marvel story. Do I have to bring up Thor? Or Spiderman? Same thing, right? *mind blown*

These questions about anti-colonial violence and accommodation are great questions, and Coogler did a brilliant job of exploring them, especially considering the boundaries of a Marvel super hero film he had to work with. But don't call Coogler "primitive". He knows how to make a movie, and he knows what he just did.
9
@8

Are you kidding me?

Charles' job is to review movies.
That's exactly what he did.

You do realize that everything in every movie is there because the writer or the director wanted it to be there, right?

Do you have a problem with every critic analyzing every movie, or just critics that analyze comic book movies?

I hope that you realize that the average movie goer goes to a comic book movie for simple entertainment, not for deep political insight.

Obviously Charles didn't write this review for super hardcore Marvel Universe fans like you.

Some people actually enjoy analyzing movies and discussing them with their friends.
Should they stop doing that because the director knows what the movies about?

I went back and reread the article, and nowhere in it does Charles call the director "primitive".
In fact, there is no criticism of the director at all.

When someone says "Pulp Fiction is a movie about Redemption", they're not saying "Quentin Tarantino didn't know his movie was about Redemption", what they're saying is "I realize what Pulp Fiction is about."

Not only is Charles just doing his job, he didn't do any of the things you accused him of doing in your original post.

Calm down dude, it's only a movie.
10
Calm down it's only a movie? It really doesn't make sense to say it's only a movie and then go on to defend Charles Mudede's film criticism. Mudede's whole career is built on the idea that it's a hell of a lot more than a movie. Trivializing that is a sorry way to defend Charles Mudede.

I can keep giving you quotes that show that these critics do in fact fail to give Coogler credit. I gave you one from the Essa article.

Here's another one from Mudede: "This reformist (Obama-like) compromise has upset a number of critics." Hello, the Obama-like compromise upset Ryan Coogler! That's why he frames it the way he does. It's why the whole movie is the whole movie.

These kinds of criticisms are saying that Coogler doesn't know what he's doing. That he didn't deliberately put these messages in his movie, and that it was only when the clever critics analyzed it did they realize that Coogler created this subtext in spite of himself. But most critics realize how much mastery Coogler has shown with this, and that the ugly side of Wakanda and of the things T'Challa does are part of the story he chose to tell. Coogler doesn't say an "Obama-like" compromise is wrong - he challenges the viewer to think about it, just like he challenges the viewer to face the ugly side of Killmonger's methods. Erin White, for example, doesn't treat Coogler like he's been fooled by his own story.

I never even said that the points Mudede or Essa make are wrong. Only that they don't give Coogler enough credit for being aware of the same contradictions they figured out. Coogler gets it too. He made this movie this way because he wants everyone to get it.
11
@10

"These kinds of criticisms are saying that Coogler doesn't know what he's doing."

No, they don't.

If you have problems with Essa's work, you should take it up with him.
This isn't the place for that.
This space is reserved for criticizing and discussing Charles' work.

Besides, you took Charles' quote of Essa out of context.
"These are important debates, and one should not be quick to take any side absolutely."
Charles doesn't say he agrees with Essa, he says this is a nuanced movie that deserves thoughtful analysis.
"All of Black Panther must be processed and synthesized into new or deepened theory of post-colonial blackness."

".....they don't give Coogler enough credit for being aware of the same contradictions they figured out."
It's not necessary for a critic to give credit to an auteur for understanding his own movie.

This whole exchange reminds me of a scene from a movie.

https://youtu.be/sXJ8tKRlW3E

I happen to have Mr. Coogler right here.......

Boy, if life were only like this!

I said "calm down it's only a movie" last time because I honestly think you should come down, you seem to be far too upset about this.
I wasn't trying to minimize the movie so much as I was trying to make a joke, and to get you to realize that you're overreacting.

Charles doesn't say anything negative about Black Panther at all.
Except maybe this:
"...you will not fail to notice and be troubled by the near silence or limited contributions of Black Panther's one representative of the French-speaking Africa, the great Isaach De Bankolé..."
Now I tend to agree with Charles on this point, not because I believe French speaking Africa needed more representation in the film, but rather because I love Isaach De Bankolé.
Even in small rolls, like Ghost Dog's Raymond, he simply cannot be ignored.
https://youtu.be/dWnZ2OdJzi8
12
@4 Roma,
You pose some excellent questions. I've visited 10 countries in Africa and speak French. When I lived and worked on the continent 25+ years ago as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I too, wondered "What if colonialism had never happened?". It is a most curious question but of course now, moot. I can remark that some of Africa was unaffected by colonialism and some colonialism positively affected Africa. That's not a defense of colonialism. But, I hardly believe that Africa like America (the Western Hemisphere) was an Edenic idyll prior to the arrival of the Christian missionaries, colonists and European soldiers/sailors. Slavery & tribalism were around before the arrival of the European.

That said, I've yet to read the Marvel Comic Book & view the film, "Black Panther". I probably shall see the latter. Several of my friends saw it and liked it. Like "Superman" it is based on a Comic Book and most fantastic in the literal sense. Hats off to Cooglan & the cast. Cooglan's "Fruitvale Station" was outstanding. But, I'm getting a little wary of some of the interpretations of "Black Panther". It's gotten virtually no negative reviews and is a box office sensation.

I do know this. The fictional Wakanda isn't Ethiopia (or Abyssinia) which until the 1930s resisted colonialism by a European power (Italy). Sierra Leone & Liberia were essentially created by Great Britain & the USA to induce former slaves from those former slave countries to reside. All the other countries on the continent were essentially colonial subjects (South Africa was created by European largely Dutch settlers).

It's impossible to disassociate colonialism & Africa. "Black Panther" remains a Comic Book fantasy. That's fine. But, "Black Panther" is "entertainment" not a reflection of Africa past or present.