Black Panther: Critical Thoughts

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Simon_Jester
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Re: Black Panther: Critical Thoughts

Post by Simon_Jester » 2018-04-12 11:44am

Yeah, and/but W'Kabi was pitching this more in terms of "I'm open to going out and fixing the world," not "I want to go out and chainsaw everyone who's oppressing our pan-continental ethnic group."
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Re: Black Panther: Critical Thoughts

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-04-12 04:17pm

Simon_Jester wrote:
2018-04-12 11:44am
Yeah, and/but W'Kabi was pitching this more in terms of "I'm open to going out and fixing the world," not "I want to go out and chainsaw everyone who's oppressing our pan-continental ethnic group."
This just gives more ammunition to the notion that Wakanda had never let anybody in before. They're like the bottle city from Superman; everything's perfect as long as they don't let anybody in.

This isn't an unusual stance for many more conservative African tribes, honestly, so that's a bit of unintentional (or was it?) authenticity for you there. Before the colonial regime, cross-pollination tended to only happen through conflict, religion or trade. Part of this was the difficulty of travel (not a whole lot of pack animals or roads), part of this was a lack of large kingdoms/empires unifying multiple groups...

Anyway, yeah. Wakanda already thinks they're perfect, they don't need to screw up their own affairs for anybody else's sake. They don't want to change THEIR status quo. Changing other people's for them, maybe, but they need motivation.
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Re: Black Panther: Critical Thoughts

Post by Vendetta » 2018-04-12 05:36pm

Simon_Jester wrote:
2018-04-12 11:44am
Yeah, and/but W'Kabi was pitching this more in terms of "I'm open to going out and fixing the world," not "I want to go out and chainsaw everyone who's oppressing our pan-continental ethnic group."
On the other hand, he was the one most personally willing to follow Killmonger because he brought Klaue in, and W'kabi's parents were among the fatalities from his original raid.

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Re: Black Panther: Critical Thoughts

Post by Simon_Jester » 2018-04-12 05:43pm

Yes- I'm talking about what W'Kabi was like before that. I suspect that he was at least halfway honestly converted to Killmonger's cause, his isolationist/xenophobic Wakandan supremacy being converted into a manifest-destiny Wakandan supremacy.

And I don't blame him; there's a lot in the world that the Wakandans could reasonably look at and go "we could fix that by going out there and busting some heads."
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Re: Black Panther: Critical Thoughts

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-04-12 05:55pm

Simon_Jester wrote:
2018-04-12 05:43pm
Yes- I'm talking about what W'Kabi was like before that. I suspect that he was at least halfway honestly converted to Killmonger's cause, his isolationist/xenophobic Wakandan supremacy being converted into a manifest-destiny Wakandan supremacy.

And I don't blame him; there's a lot in the world that the Wakandans could reasonably look at and go "we could fix that by going out there and busting some heads."
This is quite correct, after T'Challa passes his first duel there's a bit where he's visiting W'Kabi at his village and W'Kabi basically says straight up "I don't want us to let them in, but we can go fix things".

How they would do that with hover-UFOs and armoured rhinos I'm not quite sure... might have been more along the lines of killing oppressors and helping set up more democratic systems?
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Re: Black Panther: Critical Thoughts

Post by Bedlam » 2018-04-12 06:24pm

Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-04-12 05:55pm
How they would do that with hover-UFOs and armoured rhinos I'm not quite sure... might have been more along the lines of killing oppressors and helping set up more democratic systems?
[/quote]

Given that they themselves do not use a democratic system it seems unlikely they'd want to set them up elsewhere. Probably something more along the line of a benevolent Wakandan dictator

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Re: Black Panther: Critical Thoughts

Post by Q99 » 2018-04-17 11:18am

Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-04-12 05:55pm
This is quite correct, after T'Challa passes his first duel there's a bit where he's visiting W'Kabi at his village and W'Kabi basically says straight up "I don't want us to let them in, but we can go fix things".

How they would do that with hover-UFOs and armoured rhinos I'm not quite sure... might have been more along the lines of killing oppressors and helping set up more democratic systems?
They do have a really good spy network too. Assassinations of oppressive leaders, supplying local movements, that sort of thing.

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Re: Black Panther: Critical Thoughts

Post by Simon_Jester » 2018-04-17 03:28pm

It occurs to me that the armored rhinos are mainly useful because they have both nigh-impenetrable armor and force fields capable of magically deflecting their own energy blast weaponry. Neither penetration nor heating is a realistic threat to well-equipped Wakandan soldiers, so shooting bullets or ray guns at them just isn't very effective, and the only thing that really has much potential to seriously injure them would be sheer momentum transfer.

And one thing a rhinoceros is very good for is transferring momentum.
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Re: Black Panther: Critical Thoughts

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-04-18 01:34pm

Simon_Jester wrote:
2018-04-17 03:28pm
It occurs to me that the armored rhinos are mainly useful because they have both nigh-impenetrable armor and force fields capable of magically deflecting their own energy blast weaponry. Neither penetration nor heating is a realistic threat to well-equipped Wakandan soldiers, so shooting bullets or ray guns at them just isn't very effective, and the only thing that really has much potential to seriously injure them would be sheer momentum transfer.

And one thing a rhinoceros is very good for is transferring momentum.
If they're useful mainly against Wakandans, though... why?

Armoured rhinos are pretty much a huge red flag to anybody in the outside world who sees them. Even just having tame rhinos would almost certainly set tongues wagging, unless it's some kind of obscure Wakandan tradition to domesticate very exotic wildlife. All the more as they're apparently kept by the Border Tribe (to be fair, we don't see any other tribes in their own context in this film), presumably to use against border-jumpers, but that risks someone escaping and telling the outside world 'those crazy Wakandans are riding rhinos and running down anybody who comes over the border'.

So, that suggests perhaps they're for internal use. Which is just... weird... considering it's some kind of utopian society and presumably post-civil unrest?

Alternatively, I suppose the Border Tribe, along with the Dora Milaje, are the closest thing Wakanda has to a standing army (which may actually be a reasonable assumption), and the rhinos are part of that? Seems terribly low-tech.

I wouldn't be surprised if in Infinity War Pt. 1 though they reveal that Wakanda has been invaded by aliens before (trying to pirate vibranium perhaps?), the rhinos were useful in that situation, and now millennia later down the road they keep the rhinos around just in case.
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Re: Black Panther: Critical Thoughts

Post by Simon_Jester » 2018-04-18 03:06pm

Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-04-18 01:34pm
If they're useful mainly against Wakandans, though... why?
This may well not be the first time Wakanda has fought a civil war. Their armed forces are too disciplined and skillful for a country that has been literally entirely at peace except for special commando raids for the past thousand years or more.

Historically, typical real life monarchies only last like... four to eight generations between major dynastic crises.

For that matter, it seems very likely that at some point in the hundred or more generations that Wakanda has existed, some rival sibling or tribal champion successfully defeated the crown prince in that ceremonial duel they hold during the coronation ceremonies. The duel has to have been a thing that was done for a reason, and for everyone to have reacted with "Crap, well, guess Killmonger's the king now" the way they did, there must have been a precedent.
Armoured rhinos are pretty much a huge red flag to anybody in the outside world who sees them. Even just having tame rhinos would almost certainly set tongues wagging, unless it's some kind of obscure Wakandan tradition to domesticate very exotic wildlife. All the more as they're apparently kept by the Border Tribe (to be fair, we don't see any other tribes in their own context in this film), presumably to use against border-jumpers, but that risks someone escaping and telling the outside world 'those crazy Wakandans are riding rhinos and running down anybody who comes over the border'.
Maybe they're there to fight the reclusive and hostile mountain tribe? Those guys seem pretty rough, and they were clearly enjoying themselves when they got to jump the Border Tribe army. Maybe they have a capital-H History.
So, that suggests perhaps they're for internal use. Which is just... weird... considering it's some kind of utopian society and presumably post-civil unrest?
Again, the most likely explanation is that the continued existence of ritual combat in which the crown prince must battle all challenging claimants to the throne to submission or death reflects a real, if infrequent, occurrence of dynastic disputes or civil warfare within wakandan society. They're a marvelously rich and advanced land, but their political structure is very much premodern and is not set up to truly guarantee a lack of civil disorder.
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Re: Black Panther: Critical Thoughts

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-04-18 03:43pm

That's a fair point that they may still have had civil wars in their recent-ish history. It's not like tribal conflict is anything new in Africa.

I suspect the 'disciplined and skillful' thing is just kind of a small brainbug on the writers' parts though. Wouldn't be the first time some small nation or other has been depicted as uber-awesome even though they have no particular reason to be at that moment. Perhaps trying to draw parallels with Switzerland or something. I should note that, again, the Dora Milaje and the Border Tribe are the only formal military we see; the Mountain Tribe seem to be largely a bunch of goons with spears and sticks, and the other tribes display no military capacity other than individual champions at the ritual combat. The Border Tribe at least has reason to practice regularly, and the Dora Milaje, being the King's bodyguard/commando force, would not scruple training.

That does raise a question in my mind; if the Border Tribe is the de facto military of the country (bearing in mind again that the movie is a very limited portrait of the country), why do they not have more political weight in the government as it is set up? Unless T'Challa's royal family actually comes from that tribe... not impossible but we simply don't know.

Perhaps one thing to ask more questions about-- why exactly do they still have the whole ritual combat shtick, and the whole royal setup? They have had at least generations of spies in a great number of countries, and presumably have had opportunity aplenty to observe a variety of political systems. Is it pure adherence to tradition that keeps them from adopting a more democratic system? Or, as is perhaps more likely, are the leading families in each tribe finding it in their interests to maintain the ritual combat in order to maneuver for political power within the kingdom?
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Re: Black Panther: Critical Thoughts

Post by Bedlam » 2018-04-19 02:15pm

Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-04-18 03:43pm
Perhaps one thing to ask more questions about-- why exactly do they still have the whole ritual combat shtick, and the whole royal setup? They have had at least generations of spies in a great number of countries, and presumably have had opportunity aplenty to observe a variety of political systems. Is it pure adherence to tradition that keeps them from adopting a more democratic system? Or, as is perhaps more likely, are the leading families in each tribe finding it in their interests to maintain the ritual combat in order to maneuver for political power within the kingdom?
If it ain't broke don't fix it? The general person on the street seems fairly happy with their lot, what do they care if every century or so the current king to be gets murdered and replaced by someone very similar.

Democracy isn't automatically better than any other system just because it's democracy.

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Re: Black Panther: Critical Thoughts

Post by Simon_Jester » 2018-04-19 02:59pm

Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-04-18 03:43pm
That's a fair point that they may still have had civil wars in their recent-ish history. It's not like tribal conflict is anything new in Africa.

I suspect the 'disciplined and skillful' thing is just kind of a small brainbug on the writers' parts though. Wouldn't be the first time some small nation or other has been depicted as uber-awesome even though they have no particular reason to be at that moment. Perhaps trying to draw parallels with Switzerland or something. I should note that, again, the Dora Milaje and the Border Tribe are the only formal military we see; the Mountain Tribe seem to be largely a bunch of goons with spears and sticks, and the other tribes display no military capacity other than individual champions at the ritual combat. The Border Tribe at least has reason to practice regularly, and the Dora Milaje, being the King's bodyguard/commando force, would not scruple training.


That does raise a question in my mind; if the Border Tribe is the de facto military of the country (bearing in mind again that the movie is a very limited portrait of the country), why do they not have more political weight in the government as it is set up? Unless T'Challa's royal family actually comes from that tribe... not impossible but we simply don't know.
Well, there are five tribes, and we know of the Border Tribe, the Mining Tribe, the River Tribe, the Merchant Tribe, and the reclusive Jabari. So yeah, the royal family has to come from one of the tribes.

Even if the royal family does not follow the practice of the Border Tribe (note that the royals don't practice the kind of ritual scarification the Border Tribe does)... It may well be that the Panther Tribe is in fact an offshoot of the Border Tribe and that the royal family frequently intermarries with the Border Tribe, so that in effect it is a political extension of the Border Tribe. This would also ensure that the tribe most likely to produce capable warriors able to win the ritual combat has little or no incentive to try.
Perhaps one thing to ask more questions about-- why exactly do they still have the whole ritual combat shtick, and the whole royal setup? They have had at least generations of spies in a great number of countries, and presumably have had opportunity aplenty to observe a variety of political systems. Is it pure adherence to tradition that keeps them from adopting a more democratic system? Or, as is perhaps more likely, are the leading families in each tribe finding it in their interests to maintain the ritual combat in order to maneuver for political power within the kingdom?
Probably:

1) Both of the above, plus...

2) Due to vibranium-based technology, the Wakandans live in a state of utopia that was in all likelihood superior to the ways of life they saw in the outside world until quite recently. A Wakandan visiting 1930s France or 1950s America might see no pressing need to change Wakanda's social system to be more like that of the foreigners, plus...

3) It may be extremely rare for the ritual combat to actually change anything, among other things because the crown prince gets to use performance-enhancing herbal drugs while his opponent does not. It serves more as a legalized form of 'safety valve' by which an obviously feeble or unfit heir can be removed from the throne, in case the royal lineage fails, as it almost certainly would have to do once in a while. As such, to most Wakandans it would seem an essentially harmless tradition, and one that serves a valuable function in an undesired contingency that's brought down a LOT of monarchies over the years. Plus,

4) The Wakandans are not heirs to Western philosophical traditions, and never went through a phase where Western philosophy and political theory was higher-prestige than whatever philosophies and political theories they've adopted among themselves. This is basically unique in the modern world, where even countries that were never directly subjugated or colonized (e.g. Japan or Ethiopia), the superiority of foreign technology meant that to modernize their countries, the local leadership had to import foreign ideas to go with the technology. Thus, Ethiopia eventually overthrew its monarchy and became a communist country, even though communism is in no way native to Africa or devised with African economic conditions in mind, and Japan went from being a feudal quasi-monarchy to a parliamentary democracy (with military domination in the pre-WWII phase), even though every single institution of democracy as practiced in Japan was invented on literally the other side of the world.
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