Black Panther, White Suckers
The new Black Panther movie may have been sold as an anti-white screed dripping with racial hostility, but those who are looking for that kind of venom in this year's biggest biggest cinematic experience are going to disappointed.
Anyone who has ever met Prince Albert, The World's Smallest Perfectly Formed Colored Midget, can tell you why. I got to know Prince Albert during my days in the carnival when my ride, The Round Up, was often located next to the freak show.
In addition to the albino woman sword-swallower, Priscilla the gorilla woman, and her husband, the alligator-skinned man, Prince Albert took the stage and told people about his life and world travels – as he did to me when he came to visit Dottie, the woman who took tickets at my ride.
Paying or free, Prince Albert attracted a crowd that loved his tales of a girl in every port. From time to time, Prince Albert offered them the following wager: "I bet anyone $5 I can tell them the time, the place, and the location where they got their shoes."
Someone would always wave a $5 bill around, if for no other reason than to learn the trick. And if he were here today, Prince Albert would earn the $5 by saying, "It is Wednesday, 10 a.m., and you got your shoes on the end of your feet."
The moral of the story, Prince Albert reminded the marks, is never play another man's game.
After seeing Black Panther, there is no doubt that the marketing gurus who turned Black Panther into the most talked about movie of the decade were playing us like a nation of willing and ignorant marks.
Anyone who saw the trailers saw all the clues as to what they thought the movie would be about. First there was the '60s classic from Gil Scott Heron, "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" – or, to put it more accurately, "music to burn buildings by." That was not in the movie, by the way.
The same trailer featured some sounds from Killer Mike, best known for chanting "when are you n‑‑‑‑‑ going to unite and kill the police m‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑."
The next clue came from the director, who made his mark at the helm of Fruitvale Station, which documented how black people in Oakland are relentless victims of white racism and that is why cops go around killing black people on the BART system for no reason whatsoever.
If that was not enough, the internet was full of stories and comments about the magical setting of Black Panther, the kingdom of Wakanda, and how that is how Africa would look today like if white people had not messed it up. Alternately (and often in the same breath), Wakanda is what Africa looks like today, but white racists in the media just do not want us to know.
Joy Reid, MSNBC's resident arbiter of all things racist – and all things are racist – had a joyful interview with the guy who wrote the cover story for Time Magazine on the movie. After about four minutes of celebrating Black Panther as the greatest artistic achievement in history, mostly because it had black actors and a black director, they turned to their reliable whipping boy and source of all problems for black people in America: Donald Trump and his followers.
They both agreed that Trump-supporters are haters, but not even the haters could stop this tsunami of truth about black victimization and ultimately triumph over white racism.
But that is far from what the movie is about. In fact, Black Panther takes lots of shots at several things that will endear it to the so-called haters.
Starting with Trump: The king and advisers in the movie have several conversations about their civilization and how far ahead of the world they are. And why they have not shared it with other Africans. The answer to this is the same answer that won the New Hampshire primary for the Most Hated One: refugees are bad because they bring their problems with them.
The lovely ladies and their artifacts of black American culture do not escape the movie's scrutiny, either: the king's female bodyguards shave their heads, except when they are on a mission. When we see a female general with a wig, a weave of the kind you can buy in any Asian-run convenience store in the ghetto, she condemns it and wonders why anyone would ever wear such an ugly thing.
She throws it away at the first chance she gets.
Fathers and families who abandon their children are condemned loudly and often. In Wakanda, children have mothers and fathers. They are even married.
All the discussions among powerful and capable black people are taking place in a language seldom heard here – maybe to the point of unfamiliarity for many of the first-night theater-goers. They speak the queen's English, maybe better than the queen herself.
The bad guy, however, is from Oakland, and he acts and speaks that way – especially when he tries to blame white people for black dysfunction, and especially when he hatches a plan to use the advanced weapons of Wakanda to kill all the white people around the world so black people can take their turn running the planet.
No one from Wakanda shares that point of view.
There's a white villain, but also a white good guy, and he even works for the CIA.
So anyone hoping for Gil Scott Heron's paean to the black revolution to come to life on the silver screen must wait longer. Or watch Netflix for the dozens of other movies of recent years that fit that description.
Until then, people are just going to have to make do with a pretty good action movie based on a comic book – all absent the racial hostility and venom that fill so many aspiring Hollywood wannabe blockbusters of the last five years.
Django Unchained, anyone? Do not expect to see the stars of this movie appearing on Saturday Night Live, as Jamie Foxx did, joking that the best part of doing that movie was killing all the white people.
That's not how they roll in Wakanda.
Now, can I have my $5?
Colin Flaherty is the author of the Amazon #1 bestseller Don't Make the Black Kids Angry. You can check out his daily podcast and new videos at minds.com/ColinFlaherty.