Going back to the idea of seeing Erik-Killmonger, as a violent, young, black male, makes me think of the “white imagination”. The white imagination of black lives is limited. Similar to the heterosexual imagination of homosexuals. Just one example in recent media history, is the creators of Game of Thrones creating a show called Confederacy, where slavery was never abolished. When I read about this project last summer, I was really upset. Six months into 45’s Presidency, on top of all the publicized murders of black folks by police officers, and they were trying to sell this mess to the public. I wondered, why not make something where black people were never enslaved here in the US to begin with? Confederacy, if made by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss would be detrimental. Based on their previous work, the show would brutalize/sexualize black bodies in the name of entertainment.
I don’t know if you noticed that there was very little blood in Black Panther. When Klaw was shot there was the bullet hole with a little blood surrounding it, but in that same sequence where Erik shoots his gf, there’s no focus on dead eyes, bullet wound, blood. When Erik slits the Dora Milage warrior’s throat there is no blood and no emphasis on her dead body. When Erik dies, there is no focus on his body, his wound. The camera focuses on the killer and/or the people who witness the death. That is powerful cinematic storytelling. People have told me when I mention this, that it is a PG-13 movie. I think it was also a conscious choice. I’m bone and soul tired of seeing black bodies mangled, massacred, brutalized, in real life videos, as well as through the guise of entertainment, and maybe the filmmakers behind Black Panther feel the same way.
This is a part of the beauty of seeing a movie version of Wakanda. Wakanda is a nation untouched by colonization which is something that I and others have imagined/imagine. My dream of the future has never been sterile, white, silver, or dirty grey. It has always been colorful and full of life. Not perfect but not so clinical or depressing. One of the things about the visuals of Wakanda that I appreciate is the history was always present. Going off on a small tangent. Just like in music, the roots of the past, are integrated in the present, and will birth the future. When I was growing up in the late 80s/90s, people complained of sampling in music. People would talk about how songs were biting off of older songs. I always saw it as an homage to the past. The thread of our parents music with our own. Us taking it a little farther, spinning off of what came before. Spinning new material while keeping the thread. I didn’t see it as a lack of originality like some did.
So in Black Panther, when I see animals being tended to, people trading/shopping in outdoor markets, the rural areas, the cities teeming with things that Shuri and her team have designed, I feel a sense of, Yes! and rightness. It feels/reads as real to me. The spirit of Wakanda is real. We will see many great changes in our society because of films like Hidden Figures and Black Panther for sure. Especially amongst women and people of color in stem fields. As an American of African descent I am more than ready for it. Media shapes culture. I’m ready to see how our culture shifts here in the US and a global scale.