Just came back from Black Panther which I thought was a brilliant movie that reached audiences on multiple levels, depending on background and experience. Liz and I saw the movie in a packed theater in Eastern Long Island where the audience was less than 10 percent Black and had a large component of children and teenagers. To this audience, Black Panther was a great action movie with an intriguing plot, lots of fighting, high tension chase scenes, constant transmutation of real people into action figures, and futuristic structures that kindled the imagination. But at the same time, the movie turned race and gender stereotypes on their head, presented Africa as the seat of science and invention, made no concessions to colorism, and offered sharp reflections on the suffering Black people experienced when separated from the African continent. I have rarely if ever seen social commentary presented within the medium of an action film this effectively. Personally, I found it profoundly moving; but even those who primarily came for the action and adventure were exposed to something that might subtlety influence their racial attitudes and perceptions.
I also thought of the movie as an antidote to Trumpism, a tribute to the power and brilliance of Black people and their ultimate destiny as transformative agents in the US and the world, an unstoppable force that racist and greedy whites could no longer control. Even though it presented a utopian fantasy, the characters in their human form made the vision of Black people as scientists, inventors, warriors and wise, self critical rulers seem totally credible.
For many of those who came to this film, Wakonda will have a lasting place in their hearts as an alternative vision of what a society can be.
And that is an achievement worth celebrating