Summary: The Left loves the Black Panther film. So will President Trump. It echos themes that he says will Make America Great Again, including racial homogeneity and the Wall. The film provides a mirror in which we can see ourselves more clearly — and gain a deeper understanding into America’s dysfunctional politics. See my full review here.
The day that changed America
On night in 2015, Donald Trump put Baron to bed. As he left, a comic book caught his eye. It was an issue of the “Black Panther.” He read it, and the course of American history changed. Trump read about the nation of Wakanda.
- The richest nation in the world.
- An ethnically homogenous and peaceful nation.
- With a strong ruler and the world’s most powerful military.
- The most technologically advanced nation in the world.
- With a wall (or force field) keeping out migrants from poor and primitive regions.
Trump saw that Wakanda was the model for our future — and that we can Make America Great Again by learning from the Black Panther. The Wall is the key to make it work, as it is for Wakanda. Trump came down from his penthouse aerie to share this insight with his campaign team. The result is history.
Stan Lee and writer-artist Jack Kirby created the superhero Black Panther, who first appeared in the July 1966 issue of Fantastic Four. He rules Wakanda. It is a nation in sub-Saharan Africa. Long ago a meteor crashed in it, made of the fabulous metal vibranium. With this wealth they built the world’s most technologically advanced society, both peaceful and stable.
Wakanda’s population consists of the tribes in the region of the meteor that after its impact unified to form a nation. This racial homogeneity gives it strong social cohesion, allowing it to survive the many traumas inflected on it in the comics.
Wakanda is a hereditary monarchy. The ruler is called the Black Panther. He (or she) gains superpowers by eating a heart-shaped herb. The office is earned through single combat among challengers. Much like entry into Harvard, the contest is “fair” — but the ruling elites has an edge. The royal line are trained from birth to win, and the super-herb is a lethal poison to anyone not in the royal line (Black Panther, Nov 2000).
The idea of hereditary monarchy might appeal to Trump, and perhaps to some of the other elite clans in America (e.g., Kennedy, Clinton, Bush). After all, we are moving in that direction.
For us, the most relevant aspect of Wakanda is its wall (later a force field). Like so many walls in history, it prevented Wakanda from being overrun. How many Africans, living in poor and war-torn lands, would have migrated to rich peaceful Wakanda if not for its wall?
Open borders would have presented immense challenges for Wakanda. They could have become a two-tier society, with natives each having an entourage of servants (a larger scale of America recent history, where the upper middle class now has servants cleaning its homes and caring for its childcare). Or they could have tried to assimilate a flood of poor immigrants, speaking different languages and from different cultures.
The Left loves Wakanda
Secure behind its wall, the racially pure society of Wakanda is loved by Leftists. See the 92% fresh rating for the Black Panther film, and the reviewers gushing about Wakanda. That is odd, since many aspects of it are loved by Trump, evil incarnate to the Left.
“Progress doesn’t stop just because Wakanda got the meteor privilege. They didn’t build that. We are all Wakandian dreamers.”
— Banner on the outside of Wakanada’s wall (from a comment by Gaza).
Lessons learned from the Black Panther
Trump was (probably) not inspired by the Black Panther comics, and the film is unlikely to inspire him now. But the description of Wakanda matches some aspects of dreams by many on both the Left and on the Right. This is easy to mock. Doing so ignores the significance of this.
It illustrates the incoherence of politics in America, with the fault lines defined as much by tribes (us vs. them) as ideologies or policies. Black pride and nationalism are OK, but not White pride and nationalism. Obama crushed whistleblowers, assassinated US citizens, and expanded the footprint of our wars — but Trump is the fascist militarist. The Left loves free speech and a free press, but the Right fights for both at US colleges against the Left. The core of both parties love more military spending and broad surveillance powers.
Both sides enjoy the food fight that pretends to be politics in America. If Trump says X, then the Left will disagree. The US polity is not polarized so much as irrationally factionalized. We are divided and so powerless, which further encourages our passivity and apathy. Every day it becomes more difficult to create the kind of broad alliance between progressives and populists that led to the New Deal.
Meanwhile the 1% continue to gain power and wealth.
A note from the past about our situation
Nietzsche foresaw our confusion, and hoped that from it might come new insights and new beliefs — from which we can build better forms for society. Let’s hope he was right in this, as he was in so many things.
“The traditions that provided a substitute for nature have crumbled. The soul becomes a stage for a repertory company that changes plays regularly — sometimes a tragedy, sometimes a comedy; one day love, another day politics, and finally religion; now cosmopolitanism, and again rooted loyalty; the city or the country; individualism or community; sentimentality or brutality. And there is neither principle nor will to impose a rank order on all of these. All ages and places, all races and all cultures can play on this stage.
“Nietzsche believed that the wild costume ball of the passions was both the disadvantage and the advantage of late modernity.“
— From Allan Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind.
See my full review of the Black Panther
Update: others have also seen the obvious
Some reviews note the similarities between Trump’s vision for America and Marvel’s vision of Wankada.
“‘Black Panther’ Review: The Movie’s Hero is Trump, the Villain is Black Lives Matters” by John Nolte at Breitbart. Also see his follow-up analysis. Nolte gives some powerful insights.
“Black Panther: The Ultimate Alt-Right Hero” by Jack Kenrick at Squawker.
“‘Black Panther’: The Crown Weighs Heavy On The King In Marvel’s Most Political Effort” by Rodrigo Perez at The Playlist.
For More Information
- Are our film heroes leading us to the future, or signaling despair?
- The horrifying list of inspirational films about humanity building a better future.
- A new Man of Steel for 21st century America: a warrior superman.
- Captain America: the Winter Soldier – high-quality indoctrination for sheep.
- Review of Dr. Strange: a good film misunderstood by the critics.
- Jeff Beck reviews “Wonder Woman”, a contrary note amidst the ecstatic applause.
- “Justice League” is the film we need, not the one we deserve.