I began my last column, “Wakanda:
‘The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of
with ‘The title is from the last line of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon. It’s an
appropriate quotation for wishful thinking.  In keeping with the denouement of “The
Maltese Falcon,” Black Panther
is a lump of political lead painted black.’
Black Panther was produced
and released as a “black” event, not as “entertainment” or
as chiefly cinematic “art.” The driving force behind it was politics,
and “Identity” politics, at that. I saw that from the beginning and
the SJWs ate it up. The film falls into the genre of super-hero fare, just as Shaft and Cotton Comes to Harlem as
black films were.  (I remember having
smidgens of reservations when I was much younger about the “Superman”
I saw on TV; “Look! Up in the sky!
It’s a Bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman!”), but I never developed a liking for
Spiderman or any of the other Marvel-like comics or their heroes.
This is not to rule out all comic super-heroes, even when they appear
in comic books. Some of them have a value as an introduction to heroic values.
I read the Classic
of literature when I was younger, and also some newspaper comic
panels. The latter did not usually feature heroes able to fly or perform
reality-defying feats in pursuit of justice.
But a maturing person should leave these things behind to discover the  great literature that is their source, not
ceasing to value their juvenile offspring, but answering the needs of a growing
mind. Or they should at least eschew these fictional  “self-esteem” booster shots tp the psyche,
such as Black Panther. Or they should
discover “fresh” new movies, such as Agora, and the
circumstances behind the fall of ancient Alexandria, Egypt, or learn the
classical myths of gods and goddesses – Zeus, Athena, Mercury, etc. – the
“super beings” who often affect mortals’  actions, and often their interventions are inseparable
from men’s actions and thinking;  and from
the stories of Odysseus,
and Clytemnestra
and Theseus,
and other non-temporal or semi-godlike actors. The ancient playwrights were far
more attuned to their works than most modern playwrights are. The ancient
playwrights, and Shakespeare,
Rostand, and Victor Hugo, were not

Clytemnestra, John Collier, 1882

The thing that held me back in respect  to contemporary comic book mythologies  was epistemology; heroic actions had
to be credible, believable, and within the realm of rationality and real human
action. This is why all my novels
are “real worldly,” including the Sparrowhawk series. That Black Panther was billed as the “tribal
adventures” of a black super-hero, turned me off immediately, because I
knew it was a post-BLM venture and black power statement to capture black
“identity”; as I ask in my column, why not a movie about a Hispanic
“super-hero,” or a Muslim “super-hero” (though Marvel
is producing comics
of just the latter)?  Don’t leave out a single
ethnic identity, Hollywood! Don’t forget the Sioux , the Buddhists, the
Navajos, and the Alaskan natives! They are all deserving of their own cinematic
mythology and fictional countries! Why should blacks and Black Panther have a corner on the ethnic identity market?
One of the best discussions of Black
is by Sargon at this video link. He
takes it apart root, twig, and branch. He says that one Time Magazine reviewer
wrote that the film is about “the revolutionary power of Black Panther.“ Another Time reviewer, Stephanie
, wrote that Wakanda is “what America looks like when it’s
allowed to be its truest, freest self. ” Which is not the most ideal projection
or wishful dream of what America could be. Wakanda, after all, is a hereditary,
tribal monarchy whose default siblings engage in mortal combat for the right to
sit on the Wakandan throne. Shakespeare did it better in England and Denmark.
What about Wakanda’s shimmering skyline of towers? What economy
supports them? Who works in them? Executives? Secretaries? Economic planners? Budget
balancers? Power Point compilers? Boards of directors? Not a hint is given.  One sees a group of bazaars covered with corrugated
sheet metal. Hardly the basis of a sound Wakandan dollar. The towers are just
there as irrefutable proof that Wakanda is on a par with Lower Manhattan.
What technology keeps it all running?
Vibranium, the
magic metal that fell from the sky. Does Wakanda even have a periodic table? Or is
it just plain magic and Herculean urgings that bestow its inexplicable power
that makes things go, aside from one or two of the rival kings consuming a vibranium-mutated
herb and being bestowed with super powers? It vibrated?

The technological power of

in Black Panther
 Let’s just settle for the Three
Witches in Macbeth. Is it
the “Eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog, adder’s fork
and blind-worm’s sting, lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing”? It’s as good as three
vibrating gay molecules.  This, Sargon
says, is not “technology.”  It’s pure hocus-pocus.
 Vibranium is Star Trek’s
dilithium crystal for Wakanda. Aside
from many other aspects of Black Panther,
I suspect that, aside from story lines copied liberally or partly from Harry Potter and  Lord of the Rings
and other well-known titles, the notion of dilithium must have been copped
from Star Trek and redubbed. In the
long run, we got Harry battling Lord Voldemort,  while heir presumptive of Wakanda T’Challa
battles Killmonger.
But, to add it all up, Sam Spade in the
Maltese Falcon
summed Black Panther
best: It’s just a lump of black painted lead.