How is it already March?!?!!? Springtime may only be metaphorical in our part of the world (K and C are experiencing eternal summer but T has seen the weather make a drastic 180 from boots to sandals season!) but we’re embracing the season of hope and growth. This week, we are all about positive media content that uplifts and inspires.
BLACK PANTHER!!!! Where do I begin? After I watched it I wrote, “I feel like Wakanda is real and that this reality is the fictional one.” I am still not caught up on the cultural conversation around it, but I crowdsourced on Twitter for everyone’s favourite essays and thoughts and here are a bunch of readings of the film that you might like (HUGE hat-tips to @jocantus, @maraudings, @adieudilligence, and @vibewrecker for your links, all of which are lovingly condensed here).
My favourite critiques are essays that question the presentation of Black radicalism in the film, so check out this Atlantic piece for one take on it and this essay on the Baffler for a trenchant, lively unravelling that echoes some of my own thoughts. Both are excellently grounded in history, and both recognise that the film is revolutionary because it is the antagonist, Eric Killmonger, who dies the most important death, and asks the most important question–the question that ultimately turns the tide of Wakandan history.
Other things: I love this Elle piece that suggests that women carry some of the explicit intellectual debate in the film, and men carry some of the explicit emotional debate (it is amazing to see men cry on screen, multiple times; it is amazing to see Okoye and Nakia battle about the ethical thing to do in the wake of a throne being usurped). Check out this gorgeous thread of visual references to the characters’ clothes and the cultures they conjure. Click here to read an excellent roundup of African feminist reviews on Black Panther. Film Crit Hulk’s essay is a stream-of-consciousness gasp of love and pain about the film. My academic heart is thrilled by this Wakanda Reader that pulls together work on Wakanda, the city, and urbanism. And here is a generally excellent round-up of memes, art, and reactions to Black Panther.
As for me, personally, I’m a medley of immediate reaction (mostly because, as C says, I don’t think it’s my place to wade into sociopolitical conversations about this film, because I lack both historical and contextual understanding). I was madly in love with the imagination of Afrofuturism and was beaming at the screen as they flew into Wakanda. I loved Okoye deeply, and admired how seriously, but not blindly, she loved her country. I loved the costuming (I LOVED the costuming). I loved the music (SO MUCH) and its subtle association and thematic unfolding with each main character. I loved Shuri (of course I loved Shuri). I loved Eric Killmonger, and it made me cry to think of his machismo and his swagger all jammed into that forlorn apartment in Oakland, the TV tuned to static forever. I loved the touch of cinematography that focuses on the glamorous flutter of Okoye’s crimson dress as she glides down a banister to battle (AGH). I loved the mythic convention of everything being grouped in threes: three deaths, three battles, three chances of rebirth.
I love that the film resounds narratively around the question of “who are you?” Think of Queen Ramonda calling for T’Challa to declare his birthright and claim to the throne in the first ceremonial battle; think of T’Challa trembling to ask Killmonger for his name in the throne room; think of the young black boy at the very end of the film, turning to T’Challa rather than the aircraft, asking “who are you?” In Black Panther, this question is equivalent to “What are your politics? Who are you to this world? To what do we owe each other?”, and it makes me shiver to think about it.
Also here is a video of Chadwick Boseman surprising people who are thanking him for Black Panther, and, oh my god, I want to be hugged by Chadwick Boseman, and then maybe punch him playfully in his firm bicep. -K
So this week we had our monthly Skype call, and on our minutes is the sentence “T is yelling about Queer Eye”. Which, YES I AM, and now I am doing it publicly! I don’t really do reality TV and I’ve never watched the original show, but there is something extremely satisfying about watching five guys change people’s lives by changing their look/home/clothes – like, that’s the dream, right? Everything about the show is relentlessly upbeat and positive, which is something I always welcome in pop culture, and the fourth episode is a standout, exploring ideas of masculinity and gay culture in a way that had me flat-out sobbing by the last fifteen minutes. If you’re watching it, I need your ranking of the Fab 5 immediately, and if you’re not watching it, I need you to start doing so immediately. Also, sorry (not sorry) for the gentle shade, but there is a certain satisfaction in knowing that my cooking skills are on par, or better, than the literal cooking expert on a show. Still love you and your avocado “recipes”, Antoni! – T
Also please enjoy this short excerpt from our group chat:
C: I quite like antoni
Despite his lack of cooking skills
T: hahah antoni is cute
but he legit brings nothing to the literal table
except his looks
C: it me
I’m the antoni (K will testify to C’s…charming incompetence in the kitchen)
Continuing my billion-years-late-to-the-party podcast journey, I discovered Thirst Aid Kit. Uhm, you guys, it’s SO GOOD. I’ve only listened to one episode, but it had me literally yelling “yes!!!!!” in my room, and I liveblogged the entire thing at K and C, and then I posted a screenshot of my liveblogs on our Twitter, and then Thirst Aid Kit retweeted it, which was honestly A Lot of events to occur in the space of one hour. My review based on this single episode is that it involves women with deeply mesmerizing voices talking unabashedly about pop culture and female desire; there’s a lot of yelling (not just from me!); and I’ve never felt so much like I was part of a conversation taking place inside of my phone. I also want to shout out to Call Your Girlfriend, another podcast I just discovered – I listened to their episode “Bi Bi Bi” on the train the other day, and again, it was such a fun, nuanced, lively exploration of ideas that definitely don’t get enough mainstream conversation. I highly rec both, and now I’m humming Robyn all the time. – T
I’ve always been a fan of style blogger Leandra Medine for her self-deprecating wit, her truly original style (girl wore Supergas to her wedding!) and most of all, her willingness to be open and vulnerable about her personal struggles on a platform usually reserved more for #OOTDs. She’s written a couple of excellent essays about her difficult journey to motherhood, the latest one being a personal confession on the complex emotions and fears she experienced on the eve of her impending motherhood. A sobering, hopeful take on a usually unheard-of topic. – C
I also liked this blog post by Firqin Sumartono ,a female Muslim-Singaporean writer about inter-religious relationships, which is still admittedly a sensitive issue for some in Singapore. Personally, I’ve witnessed religion as a major factor in the demise of relationships amongst my peers (including my own) and while there are some arguments for choosing religion/familial ties over love, this article reminds me to mindful and respectful of differing beliefs, and to be generous and tolerant in love. – C
Doggo of the week
Please enjoy this Instagram account of a very short-legged dog doggedly (don’t @ me) going through various obstacles like he’s Daedalus stuck in his labyrinth. – C
And that’s what you missed this week on Glee! Feel free to yell your feelings about #WakandaForever and everything else on our Twitter !