23 February 2018

Billy Graham: True, To A Certain Extent?


I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel. . .

But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. . .

21 February 2018

Black Panther

The nicest thing you can say about Black Panther is it's a typical Marvel movie: shallow, boring heroes fighting against shallow, gOOfball villains in a war to see who will control the nameless, faceless mass of drab human underlings in a series of tedious, hard to follow (due to being shot in shaky hyper-speed) *action* scenes.  Marvel movies are a chore to sit through, utterly predictable and completely lacking in tension.  The *best* (least painful) Marvel flicks are the ones which cut the tedium with humor (the Ant-Man, Thor movies) or have quirky, deranged villains the viewer hopes-against-hope will somehow best the bland, self-righteous superhero (Mickey Rourke's Ivan Vanko in Iron Man 2).  Unfortunately, there's no humor in Black Panther, unless you think the sassy, smart ass black girl *'tude* of  Black Panther T'Challa's kid sister Shuri is funny, instead of an unpleasant reminder of headache-inducing bus ride or check-out line encounters with real-life black *'tude* gals.  Black Panther does have one quirky villain, Andy Serkis' Ulysses Klaue, but, alas, his breath of fresh air is quickly extinguished, and the movie lapses back into suffocating, stale Marveldumb.

What makes Black Panther an atypical Marvel movie, of course, is its monumental self-importance. The simplest way to explain it is to say Black Panther is SchwarzeVolk.  Here's the comic book movie which lets black folk join Hollywood's artistic decline.  Now black folk have their own simple-minded mass entert(r)ainment!  Yowza!  

But Black Panther is an artificial cultural touchstone, a Hollywood flash mob of robo-critics offering it to the illiterate masses as the Holy Grail of Diversity. But does Diversity really just mean having black folk write/direct/act for the benefit of Comic Book Guy?  If all the black actors in Black Panther performed in white face, you would see what Black Panther really is: artificial diversity, faker than vibranium, the fictional magic metal that fuels Black Panther's fairy tale Kingdom of Wakanda.

I have to wonder if all the black folk flocking to Black Panther are going to be disappointed, or if they will dutifully believe what they were told to believe before the movie's release:

I live in a country that only looks to demean people like me and our places or origin, and seeing a movie like this will give us all a sense of empowerment that black people truly need and deserve. These are African people who haven’t had their identity tarnished by colonisation. This is a movie that we need.

While it's true Black Panther's Wakanda is an African Canaan, a white-devil-free homeland flowing with rhino milk, honey, flying saucers and an endless supply of vibranium-fueled gadgets that make white folks' iPhone Xs seem primitive, it's also true Black Panther depicts African Americans as pitiful ghetto urchins, loitering on basketball courts all day waiting for someone or something to lift them up.  How empowering can it really be to African Americans to be told they need to be mentally resurrected?  Though this may be the movie the Nation of Islam has waited for, I wonder if Joe 40-Ouncer is gonna like being told he still needs welfare, just Wakanda's instead of Uncle Sam's?  Or does the movie's 22nd Century National Geographic African veneer spread far enough to cover the cracks in African American pride?

If Black Panther truly was a black cultural touchstone meant to promote black empowerment, wouldn't the Jewish-American created story be changed, with the Kilmonger character, a 'hood Wakandan who learns the violent tactics of caucasian manifest destiny as an American war machine mole, reigning as the genuine Black Panther and eliminating world-wide white oppression of colored people, instead of Marvel's hired help produced T'Challa, a saintly oreo (black on the outside, Woodrow Wilson on the inside)?

Ha!  All you really need to know about Black Panther being some kind of black The Turner Diaries is white folk love it, too!  White folk are very comfortable with T'Challa, he's a reasonable negro whites can invite into their homes for dinner. . .

The Black Panther cast adequately perform their roles, though veteran Hollywood black tokens Angela Bassett and lazy eye Forest Whitaker seem a little too *important movie* dramatic, and annoyingly pompous Walking Dead black warrioress Danai Gurira is just as annoyingly pompous in her black warrioress role here.

In the end, I would wager the true legacy of Black Panther will not be some blather about diversity or inclusion, but that black movie audiences are just as easily amused as white movie audiences.