By Ben Pensant
Well, I finally did it. After respectfully waiting a fortnight to give the ethnic community of Newcastle the best chance of seeing their lives on-screen for the first time, yesterday I dug out my Cameo t-shirt, stole a tenner from my grandma’s purse, and ventured to the nearest multiplex to see the most important movie ever made.
Sadly, the only screening of Dreamworks’ Latino-centric Cocoa clashed with Judge Rinder so instead I opted for the most micro-unaggressive movie I could find. And boy, did I find it. Because groundbreaking superhero flick Black Panther didn’t merely provide thrills and excitement: it also presented the most life-affirming vision of a perfect society since the joyous adaptation of George Orville’s 1974.
I was initially reluctant to watch the latest DC entry, mindful that my presence in a movie theatre might anger members of Newcastle’s black community. Luckily, that ship had sailed as I heard through the intersectional grapevine that by the end of opening weekend most of the Newcastle Utd squad, the slap-head out of The Lighthouse Family and those blokes who run the car wash on the West road had already seen the film twice each. Phew.
Knowing that the coast was clear was a huge relief. I don’t expect a medal for putting the needs of dark-skinned folk first – especially ones who might throw a fit if they see a white devil chomping popcorn in the back row – but the words of praise I’ve received have been fully deserved, especially the ones from me (i.e all of them). Because there’s nothing more considerate to black people than avoiding them or assuming they’re so irrational they might kick off if they have to share a cinema with a whitey.
Sadly, I spent much of the film on edge as I’d forgotten the handkerchief I’d been planning on hiding my face with just in case a drug dealer in oversized trousers walked in and popped a cap in my ass for watching the story of his life. Luckily, the cinema remain exclusively white for the duration, meaning I avoided the potential embarrassment of sitting alone watching a movie about black people with a white sheet over my head.
But my discomfort was a mere fraction of what black people endure every day. Fortunately, thanks to the film’s awesomeness I soon forgot about the plight of marginalised black people. Indeed, there’s no greater compliment to oppressed blacks worldwide than completely ignoring them while enjoying a piece of art designed to make a handful of rich white men even richer. You’re welcome.
Sadly, the insidious cancer of white supremacy made an appearance during the trailers when I noticed a smudge in the left hand corner of the screen. Clearly someone didn’t want people enjoying the daft movie about the funny black man in tights. Happily, after I’d took a photo of the offending blemish and started drafting my hate crime report the film began, the screen became gloriously dark, and the smudge was rendered virtually invisible for two joyous hours. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Trump!
A lucky escape though if I’d been watching a film with a lighter mise en scene such as The Snowman I may not have been quite so forgiving. Fortunately I would never dream of sitting through Johnny Briggs’s animated cringe-fest. There are enough white protagonists clogging up the silver screen without me enabling them.
Not when there’s a new protagonist in town, fashioned from the purest, toughest, blackest snow. For the uninitiated, the Panther – invented in the ’50s by Spike Lee – was the first black superhero and a key member of DC’s X-Men series. Denied a movie adaptation by Hollywood Zios, the character commanded a loyal following among that most rare of beasts: the non-racist American. Who, as luck would have it, are ten-a-penny in the comic geek community.
Needless to say, post-Trump it became apparent that a different kind of hero was needed: one blessed with the intersectional appeal to attract the type of people who normally wouldn’t be seen dead watching a mainstream blockbuster about men in masks chinning each other.
And the timing couldn’t have been better, with Tinseltown having replaced old school studio bosses who hated blacks with a progressive new generation who hate whites. Hence Black Panther arriving just as the Hollywood community consolidate their position as the most virtuous drug-addicts on the planet.
For an example of the entertainment world’s moral fibre simply recall how they spent a whole weekend flatly ignoring the lurid revelations about Democrat Party donor Harvey Weinstein. Indeed, there would probably be no #MeToo movement at all if someone hadn’t ingeniously decided to use his sex-pestery to paint the male population as potential rapists just because a leftist was exposed as a serial abuser fond of wanking into plantpots.
But even that demonstration of virtue couldn’t prepare us for the joy of Black Panther, a film so perfect it almost cancels out the offensive ’70s TV adaptation in which the dark-skinned, musclebound crime fighter was re-imagined as this pale, skinny shitweasel:
The dire cartoon ditched the original backstory, replacing worthy endeavours such as killing baddies, foiling terrorists and ruling over a progressively nationalist ethnostate with nude cycling, bodybuilding and helping a retarded stork in a pork-pie hat catch a butterfly for his tea. All set to horrific canned laughter and the most sexually aggressive lounge score this side of the theme-tune from Have You Been Served? I don’t know why they didn’t just go the whole hog and make the Panth’ a blue-eyed Aryan milkman.
Still, we leftists aren’t ones for dwelling on the past, apart from when we’re demanding white people apologise for everything from slavery to segregation. Two things which would have never existed if we hadn’t exported violent colonialism across the planet like a nasty dose of the clap. A point emphasised by Ryan Cobbler’s film which makes it abundantly clear that Waikiki – the prosperous, technologically advanced, ever-so-slightly authoritarian paradise of which Black Panther’s alter ego T’Chadwick is unelected leader – is exactly what every African country would look like had they been spared the horror of imperialism.
That Waikiki’s success is entirely down to the magic meteor that crashed there thousands of years ago is irrelevant. As is the fact that the Waikikans spent centuries extracting magic minerals from the magic meteor to create magic cities, magic spaceships and magic cat-suits for magic witch-doctors.
Because any fool can see the only difference between Waikiki and a real African country is that the black folks discovered the magic before the colonialists did. You think there aren’t top-secret aircraft hangars hidden in the worst corners of the Western world – Washington, Tel Aviv, Seaburn – filled with alien power sources pilfered from every ‘shithole’ between Tijuana and Timbuktu? Please.
For every starving child in Ethiopia there’s a chubby yank brat stuffing his face with pizza fried and sliced using oils and cutlery forged from the purest magical mineral.
For every poverty-stricken mother of ten with a bucket of filthy water on her head there’s a fresh-faced white woman slurping the cleanest liquid on earth from a plastic bottle made out of supernatural meteor dust.
And for every marginalised Procal Harum member forced by western foreign policy to kidnap 8-year-old girls at gunpoint there’s a misogynist white male abusing his privilege to sexually assault pretty young interns by touching their knees; knees clad in nylon stockings fashioned from the you-know-what her ancestors pillaged with impunity. What goes around comes around, ladies.
Thankfully there are few white males in Black Panther, though they still come dangerously close to derailing the entire movie. Indeed, while it was a wise decision to make the baddy and the buffoon Caucasians, the two overacting hams just can’t resist rubbing their impeccable range and PRADA training in the noses of every marginalised minority forced to endure their vanilla showboating.
Luckily they’re acted off the screen by the rest of the cast, who effortlesly add the kind of Afrocentric authenticity you’d expect from American and English actors. Though to be honest these two clowns could have been sharing a screen with computer-generated Danny Dwyer clones in blackface and they’d still struggle to make an impression.
Matthew Freeman phones in his performance as a ditzy FBI agent in the lazy manner you’d expect from someone who made his name sexually harassing a receptionist in a shitty reality show. Though his presence is almost justified by being on the receiving end of some witty casual racism from T’Chadwick’s supernaturally talented sister Shirley. But as for Andy Circus’s rare live-action turn as weird-accented bad guy Ulysees Grant. Daaamn. Let’s just say it’s a bloody good job he gets those regular gigs playing CGI monkeys.
But it’s not about the white folks: it’s all about the Panther and his beautiful kingdom. Because a nation free of white people is the pipe-dream of every modern liberal who learnt their trade not by observing politics or reading history but protesting free speech and threatening people on Twitter.
As edgy regressive bible Vice reported last month, fed up middle-class black women have been escaping the racist hellhole of Trump’s USA by booking into an exclusive complex on the island of Costa Rica in which white people are banned. Indeed, it’s a measure of the moral consistency of identity politics that these marginalised professionals choose to spend their well-earned break from whiteness in an upmarket beach resort rather than one of those African countries that definitely aren’t shit-holes
Such as Waikiki. It says everything about the modern left that the same people who condemn the Trump administration for its anti-immigration rhetoric will celebrate a closed-off Ethnostate that refuses to trade with other countries, bans the few outsiders it allows in from speaking, and is so opposed to open borders it uses magic invisibility dust to stop foreigners finding it. The Donald and co could only dream of the kind of isolationism enjoyed by the Waikikans.
And let’s not forget the gushing praise for the film’s depiction of ‘Afrofuturism’. Which I’m sure is a fascinating concept though I suspect I dozed off and missed this bit as from what I recall most of the blokes had short hair and all the women were bald. Still, it sounds absolutely amazing whatever it is, and if it’s been bigged up by Kool-Aid Corbynite Aaron Pastrami it can only be a good thing.
But it’s not just the gammon-bashing slayer of melts who’s been going gaga over Black Panther, with everyone from Hillary Rodman Clinton to Sam ‘Squiddly Diddly’ Kriss giving it the thumbs up. Indeed, it appears many sections of the left have taken inspiration from the white liberal hero of last year’s Oscar-winning horror smash Get Away, who combined a gushing respect for genetically superior black role models such as Barack Obama with a principled plan to lobotomise them and steal their bodies.
(If any brothers or sisters are reading, rest assured my most favourite comedian is Kenny Lynch and if I could I would have voted for Danny Glover in The Day After Tomorrow a hundred times.)
But don’t take my word for it. I’ve left this review spoiler-free but without giving away the ending, let’s just say when misunderstood baddy Killdozer is forced to abandon his grand plan to defeat white supremacy by sharing Waikiki’s magic and wealth with black communities around the world there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Essentially Malcolm Farrakkhan to T’Chadwick’s Martin Luther X, this brilliantly complex character very nearly steals the moral high ground from the Panth’, who respectfully vows to implement some of Killdozer’s policies right after he’s stabbed the poor bastard to death.
Again, I won’t spoil things but rest assured Killdozer is ultimately defeated, his plot to make the world a better place through violence foiled in favour of T’Chadwick’s plan to give a fresh lick of paint to tower blocks in deprived areas. Fear not though, without giving too much away, the film is at pains to stress it was white people who turned Killdozer into a megalomaniac murderer and all things considered he kind of had a point. Phew.
But this is just one of many highlights in a highlight-stuffed film, from the stirring Afro-centric score to the evocative realisation of day-to-day Waikikan life. Indeed these two aspects had possibly the most lingering impact, not least by reminding me that The Lion King still has a hell of a lot to answer for.
But by far the film’s greatest achievement is T’Challa himself: his honour, his bravery, his permanently pained expression of a man about to shit himself and powerless to stop it. Indeed, perhaps the film’s greatest achievement is the way it strikes a blow for inclusiveness by making the first black superhero one of the most bland protagonists ever to grace the silver screen.
Now that’s what I call diversity.