Ethics Quiz: The Black Panther

The Black Panther opens today, and all signs indicate that the latest Marvel superhero film—full disclosure: I am sick to death of them all—will be the blockbuster Hollywood so desperately needs. But because this is increasingly a race-obsessed, silly place, and the New York Times is its oracle, we were told a few days a go that the popularity of a black superhero will create an ethical dilemma: Can white kids ethically wear Black Panther masks, costumes, and accoutrements? Would that be cultural appropriation? A return to blackface?

Your somewhat differently conceived Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz Of The Day query is this:

Is the Times seriously raising this issue as mind-meltingly stupid and obnoxious as I think is?

Interestingly, the worthiness of the issue is neatly dispensed with at the very beginning of the essay by Sterling K. Brown, one of the stars  of “Black Panther,” who is quoted at saying that he would be thrilled at the prospect of white children, dressing up as the title character this Halloween. “The first time I see a little kid, a white kid, dressed up as Black Panther, I’m taking a picture,” he said. “You better believe I’m taking a picture, because that’s the crossover.”

Bingo.. And that’s where the entire manufactured “cultural appropriation” offense falls apart into little, stupid chunks. Cross-racial, cross-ethnic adoption of heroes, traditions, arts and symbols is healthy. It is also a compliment, not some kind of insult or act of disrespect. It represents progress. It is the essence of the melting pot, and one of America’s Big Ideas.

If you have a different answer to the quiz, I’ll be fascinated to read it.


Pointer: Jonathan Turley


36 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: The Black Panther

  1. Several random thoughts:

    In the issue of cultural appropriation, I have a Long-time Irish-Hispanic friend who convincingly dressed as a pencil-troll for Halloween one year. I advised her this past year that my children were appropriating her culture. She could have also passed for Moana, but the Trolls were the culture in question.

    You may be tired of these marvel movies, but you should consider this: never in the history of cinema has such a complex interweaving of different stories been attempted and accomplished so well and so successfully.

    I would think that you would be able to appreciate that. Granted, some of the intricacies are a bit Inside Baseball, because you are dealing with 60-80 years of source material.

    But, inside baseball, there appears to be some d finite acts coming up. The planning of the storyline does not appear to be lazy. This may be the most ambitious story ever attempted in the history of cinema.

  2. ”Can white kids ethically wear Black Panther masks, costumes, and accoutrements? Would that be cultural appropriation?”

    I never had the pulse of the younger generation. I noticed for a time a noticeable % of White suburban teens (including all 4 of my Dear nephews) were enamored with, for lack of a better reference, Rap, and its attendant culture.

    Mercifully, this was prior to “Cultural Appropriation.”

  3. I say that we need to contextualize the ever-strange, ever-morphing, ever-insistant, ever-arising and ever-imposing events of our day. It’s getting weirder and weirder, one wonders where it will go and how it will end up.

    ‘Wakanda’ is an imagined country and for Blacks ‘robbed from the shores of Africa’ (Angela Davis) and made slaves in ‘the Empire of the white man’s will’ (possibly derived from the 1899 Kipling poem: ‘The White Man’s Burden”), the imagining of a Black Empire is a necessary psychological mechanism to cope with very unfavorable circumstances —- to be robbed, quite literally, from one’s land and one’s self and to drown in a foreign identity cf Amiri Baraka who wrote that one of the largest horrors of slavery was to have lost one’s own language and to be forced to communicate solely in the language and terms-of-definition of another.

    If one desires to understand The Present —- and obviously I refer to one major salient feature of it —- one has to understand the psychology of the oppressed but one particular feature of it: operative ressentiment.

    What I find interesting is the lilt in the voice when ‘budida, budida, budida’ is recited. It is a covert message, a coded message. It has a surface but then there is an inner content less visible. On the surface it is simply a verbal intonation, a rhythm, but underneath it has invocational power. It calls forth something. It is both violent and creative, assertive and declaiming.

    From ‘New York Magazine’:

    “Ryan Coogler’s film is a vivid re-imagination of something black Americans have cherished for centuries — Africa as a dream of our wholeness, greatness and self-realization.

    “Black Panther” is a Hollywood movie, and Wakanda is a fictional nation. But coming when they do, from a director like Coogler, they must also function as a place for multiple generations of black Americans to store some of our most deeply held aspirations. We have for centuries sought to either find or create a promised land where we would be untroubled by the criminal horrors of our American existence. From Paul Cuffee’s attempts in 1811 to repatriate blacks to Sierra Leone and Marcus Garvey’s back-to-Africa Black Star shipping line to the Afrocentric movements of the ’60s and ’70s, black people have populated the Africa of our imagination with our most yearning attempts at self-realization. In my earliest memories, the Africa of my family was a warm fever dream, seen on the record covers I stared at alone, the sun setting over glowing, haloed Afros, the smell of incense and oils at the homes of my father’s friends — a beauty so pure as to make the world outside, one of car commercials and blond sitcom families, feel empty and perverse in comparison. …”

    What was dreamed up, and what can still be heard in budida, budida, budida is the will to recover self through the only act that can recover stolen identity, the loss of self in the oppressive other, the loss of onself in the ‘empire of a radically foreign will’ … is what is now stepping out more fully formed, and definitely armed, into Our Present.

    Now, for the little white kid to put on the costume of the Black Panther King T’Challa is really a strange contradiction in terms, not only of identity, but in social identity, historical reality, and really in entire existential purpose. In fact it really cannot be done.

    They are hard to get these days but a Cecil Rhodes costume would be much more fitting. Or the soldier wear of the Rhodesian Army. Or perhaps just dressing up as Rudyard Kipling with the meerschaum pipe? Oh no I’ve got it: Teddy Roosevelt!

    I guess I just have to come to accept that we live in the titanic age of clashing cartoonsin a postmodern imagine landscape. I’ll get used to it I guess.

    Budida, budida budida budida … bu bu bu …

    • What I find interesting is the lilt in the voice when ‘budida, budida, budida’ is recited. It is a covert message, a coded message. It has a surface but then there is an inner content less visible. On the surface it is simply a verbal intonation, a rhythm, but underneath it has invocational power. It calls forth something. It is both violent and creative, assertive and declaiming.

      About as covert and invocational as Vachel Lindsay’s “The Congo.” “Budida…budida…” etc. is a bit of scat singing (that’s the “creative” part) to add tonality to an otherwise fairly flat recitation of a list of demands for reparations, some, such as the accusation of cultural appropriation of music and dance, patently absurd. If there is violence and assertiveness in the declamation, it is in the slipping in and out of an exclusive dialect without the genuineness of real ebonics (the vernacular white folks borrowed “ho'” and “homeboy” from) — deliberately choosing poor English in carefully selected vocabulary that whitey — those whom Baraka really wants to be seen listening — can understand, as a pretense of … let’s say, slaps in the face, aka identity politics.

      Anyone can feel “a loss of self in the oppressive other”: children feel it all the time. That’s why some become bullies, and others victims. Then most of them grow up. Of course, it helps to have role models, preferably two parents: adults who know who they are and what year it is, how to learn what they need to learn, who may have legitimate grievances in the present, and who know how to address those grievances in a manner best suited to get positive results, minus the self-referential, self-pity over milk that may or may not have been spilt six or ten generations ago. I can’t imagine an adult who hasn’t felt loss of self — the helplessness, shame and embarrassment. The unrequited anger. Anyone who has experienced the feeling can build on it, apply it elsewhere, elsewhen. They can empathize, imagining it happening to others. Now. Then. . . . exactly as any black American living can do for his ancestors, real or adopted for the purpose. To spend time and art on The Pity of it is a sad waste.

      If making a soapbox peroration sort of sound like a poem is the objective here, the most I can say is “‘budida” or not, we’ve heard all this before. Mos Def himself would have made a better job of the rap without the cynicism.

      And kid’s costumes are not meant to be “fitting.” Any more than any other healthy playing-pretend (unlike the “pretense” or pretention of adults, as noted above). A kid is meant to be able to BE anyone, anywhere, anytime, the more diversely the better.

      • Having spent over 2 years now subscribed to this Blog, and having made substantial efforts to understand the essential Americanism that informs Jack’s views and many who gravitate to this Blog, as it happens it has allowed me to have a reference-point with which to compare and contrast my own very radical and very vanguardist ideas.

        I said at the very beginning, and still am inclined to repeat it, that ‘everyone is lying to me’. Adertisitng, the political structure, the historians of America and Americanism, the counter-culturalists. That in itself is a ‘reactionary posture’, perhaps a way to protect myself, but I am also willing to see that it in itself is an assertion and a value-imposition. If ‘everyone is lying to me’ it implies that there is, somewhere, a ‘truth’ and that one can get to it, know it, and speak from it. My view is therefor pessimistic on one side but optimistic on the other.

        “A kid is meant to be able to BE anyone, anywhere, anytime, the more diversity the better’ goes right to the precise heart of your core assertion. One had better start there and place it at the beginning to them be able to understand a great deal about what else you would say. And when I say you I mean a mass-you, the Great American We. As I have said so many times (to the point of dislocating my jaw) you are speaking from the core tenets of ‘the American civil religion’. You can, one can, google ‘American civil religion’ and get a sense of what it is composed of.

        My radicalism and vanguardism in relation to these ‘tenets’ is so marked, so foundational, and I am so influenced by the ideas that stand in opposition to The American Religion (Americanism and the Americanopolis) that with any statement I make, I provoke reaction. It is not mere reaction or opposition and is far more visceral and psychological. It is in essence violent.

        My ‘regress into reaction’ came about through my close reading of ‘The Southern Tradition at Bay’ by Richard Weaver. My ‘journey’ (excuse the vulgar term) into understanding metaphysics began when introduced to the outcome of metaphysical analysis at which Weaver is an expert. In that book, if I can make such a blanket statement, Weaver asserts that in the act of decimating The South that ‘America’ destroyed something important about it at a metaphysical level. The ‘southern tradition’, for all its ‘scarlet sins’ (Weaver’s words) represents that original and older metaphysics. How a people live, and in relation to what values they live, really does depend on their ‘metaphysical orientation’. To give one example: as the Christian metaphysics is superceded by scientism and socialistic-materialism, a relationship to metaphysical reality is not only altered, it is destroyed. The implications are vast and they are astounding. But those who have superceded and dismissed the metaphysical tenets of Greco-Christianity have, with that act, broken the possibility of understanding that to which they have severed contact. So, they cannot see and they cannot understand a) what happened and b) what are the results of what happened. The ones who can *see* what happened are those that have a position within the rejected metaphysics. And (following forward the logic) they become silent witnesses to the actions, activities and results of these ‘scientistic materialists’ (though it is hard to find the right term).

        Through Weaver I came to understand what happened in the nation known as the United States. Well, what I really mean is that I was offered, through Weaver, an interprative pattern. Most say that the ACW marked the ‘beginning’ of the US Nation. I would not argue with that assertion but I would take it upon myself to examine, with all the intellectual tools I could assemble, the event and everything that came out of it with greater care. This requires a meta-historical position. That is, you cannot be an exponent of everything the northern war ‘stood for’ (or caused) and yet still have enough of a position outside and above it to be capable of critical examination at the metaphysical level. To examine metaphysics requires a ‘master metaphysician’ and metaphysics at that level is really a form of hermeticism It certainly is hermeneutical!

        One must return to what you wrote: ”A kid is meant to be able to BE anyone, anywhere, anytime, the more diversity the better’ You are making —- really it *should* be obvious —- a statement that arises out of a very refined political metaphysics. It sounds within the sounding board of convention to be the most ‘natural’ and ‘normal’ statement that one could make, yet I would suggest, and I could prove, that it is completely false. What I mean by ‘false’ is that it fully expresses a set of meta-political choices as-against another set which, in my view, are in fact and in reality far better grounded, far more truthful and realistic, and far more necessary. It is so simple and yet so hard to describe to someone so entrenched in the specific metaphysics that produced it!

        I suggest that what you are really saying needs to be exposed and analyzed with tremendous care and diligence. One has to start with the counter-proposition:

        “A kid is not meant to be anyone or everyone, or any random thing, but must be taught and channeled to be a specific and sole person and thing, and in that focus and discrimination is necessary, and a rejection of ‘diversity’ essential and crucial”

        Now, to the real meat of the matter! Here goes! One must distinguish and be able to see and describe the difference between the primitive Black African, torn from the shores of Africa, torn from his land, his language, his cultural continuity, his being and his life, who had been enslaved and made to perform in ‘the Empire of the White man’s will’’, to adopt his language, his culture, his metaphysical terms, and in a certain sense his destiy.

        To understand the more radical formulation, perhaps the most readical formulation, of this issue and problem requires a complete enunciation of it, the ‘complete regress to the right’ as Jonathan Bowden put it. I do not mean to say that you or me or anyone has to accept it, but that to understand the depth of the problem one has to ‘put the entire question out on the table for examination’ so that it can be carefully and thoroughly gone through. Therefore I present (fanfare or trumpets) Julius Evola:

        Why do I bring up such contentious and such contested ideas and viewpoints? The reasons are various. The reasons are coherent. The reasons have to do with ‘important things’. The reasons have to do with notions of ‘civilization’. But they also hinge into axiological questions of the first order. But most importantly, I suggest, the core of these issues and questions have immediate bearing on America in 2018. And what I mean is that there is a developing movement which might originally have had origins in Europe (in the ‘Interwar Era’ obviously) that are now being considered within the confused and chaotic American context. It is sort of a question of ‘like it or not it is happening’.

        OK, so with all that said (believe it or not I tried to be brief!) I think we must examine American social conflict, the Culture Wars, and present politics in a more realistic light. Everything has to be brought out from the dark ressesses and put on the table under the Examination Light and carefully looked at ‘without prejudice’. This will be and indeed is very very difficult for most people, steeped as they are in modern presuppositions.

        So the meaning of the imagined country Wakanda has to be considered, and can only be considered, within the real and necessary context of ‘Black Identity’, and instead of trying to destroy that relationship (as you really are doing with your undermining insinuations) I suggest that for Blacks and for Black American Identity that it is good and necessary that they take their identity project to the ultimate and necessary conclusion: Black nationalism. In any case this is what is happening, right before our eyes!

        But I also do recognize that I have (with a certain intellectual violence and brashness) opened up the entire conversation to such a degree that, quite naturally, a great deal of sparks will be produced.

      • Pennagain writes: “Anyone can feel “a loss of self in the oppressive other”: children feel it all the time. That’s why some become bullies, and others victims. Then most of them grow up. Of course, it helps to have role models, preferably two parents: adults who know who they are and what year it is, how to learn what they need to learn, who may have legitimate grievances in the present, and who know how to address those grievances in a manner best suited to get positive results, minus the self-referential, self-pity over milk that may or may not have been spilt six or ten generations ago. I can’t imagine an adult who hasn’t felt loss of self — the helplessness, shame and embarrassment. The unrequited anger. Anyone who has experienced the feeling can build on it, apply it elsewhere, elsewhen. They can empathize, imagining it happening to others. Now. Then. . . . exactly as any black American living can do for his ancestors, real or adopted for the purpose. To spend time and art on The Pity of it is a sad waste.”

        First, you do not seem to have enough interest in understanding the meaning of, quite literally, having been radically removed from one’s soil and cultural context. So, the ‘Black experience’ in America is indeed a special and a distinct one, and the best ones to reveal ‘what that means’ are those people themselves. Might be Eldridge Cleaver or Malcolm X in his autobiography. Or Huey Newton, Angela Davis, or Frederich Douglass.

        Your comment doesn’t make a great deal of sense to me because what you seem to posit is based in a certain denial. And that these people need to ‘grow up’. They would likely call your comment paternalistic. Please don’t think that I do not understand what you are getting at, I do. But it is not a complete enough picture of things to be able to form an accurate vision of what is going on in our present, and specifically with the creation and mass-distribution of this particular film. It is a ‘call to action’ on a certain level. And the ‘action’ is a continuation of a long tragectory.

        What you ‘need to learn’ and what I ‘need to learn’, I am fairly certain, do not coincide. What Angela Davis and Frederick Douglass ‘need to learn’ and will go about leaning, and teaching, is also —- quite likely —- nothing that I am interested in. I am deliberately speaking as ‘white’ and ‘European’. But I can at least see, and say, that I do not have any special right to over-impose my view of things, or my values, or my ideas, on them on you on anyone, except on ‘my own’ and those who choose to associate with me.

        ‘How to address those grievances in a manner best suited for positive results’ in this our present, and for POC, or one growing and rising segment of the population within a democratic system, will mean, does mean and will continue to mean exactly what we see developing: an increased militancy, an increased revisionism, an increased desire and will to ‘topple monuments’ and attack the ‘original identity’ of those who formed the country. This is as obvious as ABC and 123.

        The reason this will happen and is happening, now that is a lengthy conversation! It is certainl inevitable in a society that ‘frees its slaves’ and then establsihes that those freed slaves are forced to become members of the polity, which at the same time remaining separated from it, will develop specific ‘strategies’ for dealing with their situation. It is also inevitable, and perhaps the prooof is historical, that the oppressed turn into the oppressive?

        But in a certain sense none of this is really ‘the issue’ though it is part of the issue. The real issue and the one that needs to be drawn out and talked about has to do with the fracturing of American Identity and the breaking down of certain ‘narratives’ that had been put into motion in the Postwar. That is the more interesting ‘issue’. I have the sense that this movie has a great deal to do with a specific and larger process, and that it has to do with a power-play that is on-going. The simplest way to explain it is to resort to a demographic description: in a few decades Whites will be rendered a minority. At that point, I suggest, true cultural revisionism will become ascendent. There are tinges of it now, strong ones, and they will only increase.

        What I advocate for, against a powerful current of resistance, is a) full awareness of this fact and full understanding of its meaning, b) and a platform of resistance, ideologically grounded, articulate, powerful and combative, to literally wrest control and power away from those who will take it from ‘us’. It really comes down to this. It has to be explained in realpolitik terms. Saying this, of course! I turn against the current of the conventional and back into a reactionary position. But the ‘reactionary position’ is just the first step: to clarify ideas, to get out from under the vast and interconnected lies that operate in our present, to remodel and refurbish my own intellectual structure, to review and reconsider history.

        This is the ‘counter-movement’ and it has to do with ‘defining Europe’ and what ‘Europe’ means. It really is a radical intellectual project! It has to be done very carefully though.

        I really have very little grasp of what else you are talking about. You seem locked into a vision of things that is dreamy, unrealistic: in fact it is simply misperception encased in a sentimentalized posture.

    • “I had almost achieved perfection!”

      Careful; get too close and the wax will melt.

      Anywho, kudos! And here I thought “perfection” was not a human attribute.

      Though it pains me to say so, I know it ain’t in my case.

  4. Black Panther? The movie’s about a comic book guy who looks like a tiger like animal who has an all black colored coat? Like a Florida Panther, the state animal or hockey team name? I thought this was going to be about Eldridge Cleaver or something important like that. This Eldrige Cleaver:

    This from the NYY (Yes, the NYT) obituary: “But after he returned to the United States in 1975, Mr. Cleaver metamorphosed into variously a born-again Christian, a follower of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, a Mormon, a crack cocaine addict, a designer of men’s trousers featuring a codpiece and even, finally, a Republican.”

    Whew, can I have me a cultural appropriation? Amen.

    • More context, as without context it will literally be impossible to interpret the present. The reason I say this and bring it up is because I sense, Bill, your position is shallow. The only advantage to pointing this out is to illustrate what I think is a tendency to shallow analysis generally among conservatives (as I assume you would define yourself).

      If understanding is the object then the entire issue of identity and what it means to have lost it and be without it must be brought out. However, and let’s be honest here: it is often better not to understand.

      I have said before that one thing I notice about this Blog is a general tendency to present an issue —- certainly interesting ones! — that are then studied rather superficially, topographically. But all of these issues, and especially those related to identity and race, can only be understood if they are seen, and seeing is not easy. Since we are dealing with a literal crisis in the culture, with real ramifications, it seems to me necessary to push the frontiers of understanding forward. And the only way to do that is through ‘philosophical analysis’. I use the word ‘philosophy’ because I do not have another, better one.

      An abstract of an article by Ashley Lavelle:

      “In the 1960s, Black Panther firebrand Eldridge Cleaver gained a reputation as a radical advocate of armed resistance to the American state. But Cleaver underwent in the 1970s a startling transformation, re-surfacing as a born-again Christian and, later, a Reaganite. Cleaver’s story is not entirely without precedent: fanatical revolutionaries – formerly devout atheists among them – have turned to religion before. Yet, the process this involves remains something of a mystery. This paper explores the process through the conspicuous case of Eldridge Cleaver. The paper discusses two main explanations for his conversion. The first is that Cleaver suffered an ‘experience of defeat’: he turned away from his radical politics in despair following the defeat of the Black Panthers in particular, and of the 1960s movements in general, after which he opted to channel his energies in the seemingly more viable direction of religion. The second explanation suggests that Cleaver’s behaviour is better understood not so much in structural terms in the sense of a changing political landscape to which radicals were forced to adapt, but rather as a product of a personality and psychology whose most prominent feature was an almost never-ending quest for meaning and identity that made it difficult for him to commit to any cause for long. Viewed from this angle, Cleaver over the course of his life routinely replaced one creed with another – whether in the form of politics, religion, or commerce.”

      That particular article does not seem to be accessible but here is another one which touches on highly relevant points.

      One of the reasons I always mention ‘White identity’ is because I can well understand ‘Black identity’ issues. Here, and among centrists and conservatives, you seem to have pet theory that ‘identity’ should not have relevance or importance. It seems to be that you assume that ‘America’ and ‘Americanism’ is sufficient. And you seem to create a political and social platform on this position. It is a false-platform! It is such because only through advanced social engineering projects —- top-down efforts by skilled operatives —- has the multicultural America come to be. It is a unique product of PR and propaganda, social activism, and specific interpretations of Americanism.

      But it is fragile because it is unreal, and impraticable, and it is also falling into pieces right before our eyes. Our present is in crisis because false identities are coming undone.

  5. To mix in one of Jack’s favorite topics…

    What does the actor consider is taking place when white kids are wearing the NFL jerseys of their favorite players (that are black)?

    The millions of (white) kids wearing Cam Newton jerseys must surely give him hope.

  6. You are obviously correct in this issue. White kids looking up to and dressing up as more than just white characters is exactly what we want.

    • More contextalization. Who is this ‘we’ that you speak for? This needs to be looked into. Because I suggest that it is not a ‘constitutional’ we, but much more of a California communist’s ‘we’. I can certainly explain!

      This movie, and movies like it, are really much more than mere entertainment. They are elaborate products of a sophisticated network of interests whose object is a) to make a great deal of money, but b) to inculcate values and attitudes. Through these productions ‘social engineering’ can be seen and understood.

      Except for a Califonia communist. One has to turn the lens to focus on that California communist, to see him in his teaching role in a state school, for example, where these cultural engineering processes are carried out. Then, the ‘will to social justice’ has to be looked at within its state-industry-nation and social context. And then the ‘will’ that serves the cultural and social-blending project that has been set in motion in the American postwar.

      You are a member of an activist’s cadre. Or at least this is a significant function you take on. You could not be a part of the California state education system unless you had internalized certain elements of indoctrination.

      Now, as far as the ‘we’ goes: No, ‘we’ do not want any such thing at all! Not only that but ‘we’ absolutely refuse to be socially engineered. ‘We’ would rather see through our own lenses and according to our own values, our sovereign intentions, which arise in our persons, in our families, in our communities and in our regions, as free subjects, as free citizens.

      I think you likely get where I am going with this.

      • I don’t think Chris’s intention was that everyone should think the same.
        Nobody’s suggesting we force children to dress up as heroes they don’t admire, or that they should be made to all admire the same ones. Children should be able to explore and reenact legends from anywhere they choose. Regardless of whether people “see through their own lenses and according to their own values”, they should be able to admire other people for their values, and emulate them when it suits them.

        • My purpose is to bring the ideas we have —- you, me, Chris, everyone —- into a context, our context, the context of our milieu. I have been reading Chris’ exposition for over 2 years now and have formed certain ideas. He speaks, all the time and constantly, from the self-righteous perspective of one who knows the truth. And he gives voice to the classic SJW who similarly knows what is true and knows what is good. Really, I am not just making this up. This is not some eristic parry. This ‘person’ (in the general sense) and his appearance in history has to be seen and understood. It has a history and it certainly has a context. It is a form of exaggeration because he is not likely to be a member of a California communist party, But the education system of California has been intensely radicalized.

          Therefor I suggest that this statement and this sort of statement: ‘this is exactly what we want’ arises out of a context and that context can and really should be exposed and seen. It is what ‘he’ wants, sure. It is also perhaps what ‘they’ want. But ‘we’ are not a singular unit. ‘America’ does not chime forth some unified vision like in the Coke commercial.

          And in respect to what you wrote you do not seem to want to or to be able to see this particular super-hero myth, and all of them, as vast national products created by powerful corporations with specific interests and systemic connections. That is also a part of the ‘larger context’.

          This is not, and not by any means, about some kid getting enchanted by a comic book. This is a piece of a giant social engineering machination.

          This is also a very specific ‘legend’ dreamed up in the 60s and ties in to the Black Liberation Movement and to 60s and 70s activism. So it is not quite the same as reading a fable about Hercules…

  7. How exactly does one “appropriate” a “culture” that is 100% a work of fiction?
    Who exactly are the victims here?

    I might as well be accused of cultural appropriation for wearing false pointed ears and talking about logic more than usual.


    • Vulcans don’t show it, but they are very sensitive to humans who make fun of their ears and then go out and stick fake ones on, then walk around proudly and do illogical things like collect jellybeans from neightbors when they have a perfectly good stock of candy at home.

  8. If you really want to dispense with this cultural appropriation nonsense, you need to back up one step. If you watch interviews regarding production and costume design, the consultants, experts, of course, will explain how they drew influences from a variety of different African cultures. Color schemes from here, symbolism from there, clothing designs from somewhere else. Wakanda was the ultimate amalgam if African influences. Put another way, Wakanda was designed as a caricature of African cultures, appropriating what it needed from what was available. But, it was done by experts and scholars, so it’s okay. Idiocy.

    By the way, I have no problem that they drew from actual cultures to lend an air of authenticity. I have a problem with the double-standard, the idiocy, and the bullshit necessary to justify the idiotic double-standard.

    (Sorry for the potty-mouth.)


    • I don’t think it’s a “caricature,” and carefully drawing inspiration from other cultures in a respectful manner isn’t appropriation. A lot of effort went into making sure the portrayal of a fictional African country wasn’t merely caricaturizing the collective notion of “Africa” lots of Westerners have, unlike many other movies that invent a fictional African nation. I don’t think there’s a double standard here.

      • Chris,
        You are creating an African culture out of whole cloth, a culture that does not exist. Drawing from any culture, carefully or not, respectfully or not, still relies on one fundamental tool: a stereotype. It requires a falsity, a generalization, an association with something that will be familiar to the audience to convey an authenticity.

        They could have made the architecture in Wakanda look very “Asian.” Ooops! I just used a stereotype, but I bet when you read “Asian,” some image popped into your head. And, if they had done that, every critic would complain that the architecture looked Asian. After all, people were up in arms that a Gungan spoke like a Jamaican. They import their own stereotypes and bitch and moan that a stereotype was used that they find offensive.

        Is this technically a caricature? No, probably not, but a caricature is one form of stereotype. It is usually one that is used to make light of, or denigrate, the object. At the same time, I doubt that the original Wakandan concepts from the 60’s comics were caricatures. But, both relied on stereotypes to convey to the viewer a reality to which they can relate.

        That’s why I think most arguments against cultural appropriation are dumb: 1) there is really no appropriation involved; 2) they all involve some form of stereotype; 3) not all stereotypes are bad; 4) people need stereotypes to make sense of the world; and 5) some stereotypes are good.


    • Yes, but the problem here is, as Jut pointed out, one of logic: it’s very difficult to argue points, much less discuss larger concepts, with people who don’t have any.

Leave a Reply to Bad Bob Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.