The Sociology Of Marvel's "Black Panther"

The Sociology Of Marvel's "Black Panther"

What does T'Challa, Karl Marx, Wakanda and W.E.B. Du Bois all have in common?
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*****SPOILERS AHEAD*****

If you haven't yet, go see "Black Panther." It is truly a fantastic film with a great score, spectacular filmography, perfect character dynamics, and of course Micheal B. Jordan.

People are getting excited about this movie simply because the film is refreshing audiences with diverse cultural icons. According to the 2016 U.S. Census Bureau, we are almost fifty-fifty male and female as a nation, and our population consists of 40% minority racial backgrounds.

However, minorities are not being appropriately represented in mass media. Before watching "Black Panther", I could look at an Avengers poster without a second thought. But now I wonder why the Marvel Universe is spearheaded by a coincidentally undiverse gang of heroes.

As a minority myself, I can attest to what it feels like being unable to connect with characters on the big screen. I may enjoy the movie but in hindsight, those films feel distant, like I am watching a reality unfold that could never be mine even hypothetically. Spider-Man, for example, was an incredible movie but I could never imagine myself in the frame its universe.

Are the underrepresented not destined for heroism, greatness, a happy ending? Of course, they are.

Films that narrowly feature all-white principle actors contribute to the phenomena of Double Consciousness. Sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois argued that there are two competing identities that minorities see while living in a white-centric America. Living as a member of a non-dominant race creates a fracture in your sense of identity within that society. And watching films that feed into a white-centric America validate their fractured identities. One can be born and brought up in the states, but if they do not look the part, they can be treated like foreigners. Minorities feel like they are American but also people of color. "Black Panther" challenges this exclusion, presenting colored heroes in a major American film.

There is nearsightedness when featuring predominantly white characters in movies. These films socialize us into subconscious factions. They show us standards we cannot meet, and cultures we do not understand. Growing up with idols whom we can identify with allow us to see the beauty in ourselves and others.

Now let's take a look at Wakanda, the kingdom that is not only the most technologically advanced nation in the world but also the most isolated. It is interesting to watch "Black Panther" through a perspective that practically rewrites history. The most powerful country sits in the middle of Africa, prospering in isolation and under the facade of a 'third world country'. But why do they hide? The answer can be found in Marx's Conflict Theory and Berger and Luckmann's Social Construction Theory.

Wakanda's affluence is all due to the resource of Vibranium and geniuses like Princess Shuri who know how to utilize it. But the mineral itself does not have any real inherent value. Vibranium only prospers because the people of Wakanda value it's power. A power that has been socially constructed to hold value.

Social construction occurs in three steps; externalization, internalization, and objectivation. An agent advertises an object's value, the object takes on a reality of its own, and then we create an internal connection to that object. Social construction works up to the point where that object no longer needs advocacy; think diamonds, Louis Vuitton, and electricity. At no point in "Black Panther" is the audience given a list of exactly why Vibrarnium is so valuable. That is because we have socially constructed that rare natural resources and cutting-edge technology are valuable.

This also explains why Wakanda stays in hiding and why as an audience, we do not question it. Wakanda has a lot of resources and it's neighboring countries do not. These led to social constraints that can be explained by Marx's Conflict Theory. Marx argued that there is a perpetual struggle over limited resources and power throughout history. In oversimplified terms, this boils down to one class holding most of the power and another holding little, resulting in a conflict or revolution of some sort.

Think the French or American Revolutions. In this case, Wakanda holds a lot of valuable resources and there is an apparent discrepancy between their nation and neighboring ones. We see how this grows into injustice and revolt when Killmongerer starts his own uprising to bring down the infrastructure of Wakanda. Conflict occurs and then is followed by revolution, in which T'Challa decides to finally share the wealth of Wakanda with the world. This is a perfect example of Conflict Theory.

The success of this film will definitely open floodgates to more diversity in all facets of mass media. And despite being fictional, we as a nation can learn a lot from the story of Wakanda. This movie allows us to see a bridge between 'first-world' and 'third-world' countries. In the words of T'Challa, “We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one single tribe". Because in reality, any preconceptions we have about the rest world are as socialized as they are malleable.

Cover Image Credit: emilyferrisphotos

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Remember Zero From 'Holes'? This Is Him NOW

"Mr. Slick Living"

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"Holes" was one of my favorite Disney movies for a really long time. It came out in 2003 when I was about 5 years old. There aren't many actors from the movie that went on to stay in the public eye. Well, except for Shia LaBeouf. That man made several statements but even he disappears from the watchful eye of the media every now and then.

The actor from the movie that I have been most concerned with, however, is Khleo Thomas. I will admit, I had quite the crush on Khleo when he played young Hector Zeroni aka Zero in "Holes", despite him being a good ten years older than me. But I quickly lost track of him over the years.

So relatively recently I got on Instagram to do a quick search for him to see what he was up to. And, if I'm being honest, see if he was as cute as I remembered.

Low and behold, I did find Khleo Thomas and if anything he is more attractive than I remembered. Now, a quick reminder, we fell in love with him when he looked like this:


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And now he looks like this:



Now, me finding him attractive aside, let's take a look at what he's been up to over the years. Even though he's been out of the public eye every once in a while does not mean he has not been busy.

Since playing Zero, Khleo Thomas has done a multitude of things. He has scored a few more acting roles in shows like "Bones" and "Sons of Anarchy". Khleo launched an R&B;/rap career. He has become a widely entertaining Instagram and social media personality aka Mr. Slick Living.

On top of all of that, Khleo has become a successful entrepreneur as well. Launching two clothing brands of his own and sprinkling in a little male modeling in his spare time. What doesn't he do?

Khleo has two successful clothing/merchandising brands by the names of "Goddesses Living Amongst Men" and "Slick Living Apparel". Both are founded on staying "aware" (Khleo has mentioned several times over on his IG about why he doesn't use the word "woke"). They also give vibes of staying true to who you are and presenting yourself as the goddesses or Awerewolves you are.

Much of Khleo's brand seems to be rooted in the fact that he is unapologetic about who he is, where he is from, and what he plans on doing with his platform. He makes hilariously honest videos on Instagram and isn't shy about taking a dance break, or several.

Fans of Khleo (aka Goddesses and Awarewolves) seem to love that he is so willing to launch discussions with them and actually respond. His blunt opinions and responses make him much more approachable to everyone that loves him and sets him apart from other celebrities in this day and age.

He seems very in touch with his audience and is honest about how he feels about himself and others. The whole point is to be truthful and be open. That's something that I can get behind in 2019.

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15 Thing Only Early 2000's Kids Will Understand

"Get connected for free, with education connection"

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This is it early 2000's babies, a compilation finally made for you. This list is loaded with things that will make you swoon with nostalgia.

1. Not being accepted by the late 90's kids.

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Contrary to what one may think, late 90's and early 00's kids had the same childhood, but whenever a 00's kid says they remember something on an "only 90's kids will understand" post they are ridiculed.

2. Fortune tellers.

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Every day in elementary school you would whip one of these bad boys out of your desk, and proceed to tell all of your classmates what lifestyle they were going to live and who they were going to marry.

3.Bunnicula

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You could never read this book past 8 o'clock at night out of fear that your beloved pet rabbit would come after you.

4. Silly bands.

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You vividly remember begging your parents to buy you $10 worth of cheap rubber bands that vaguely resembles the shape of an everyday object.

5. Parachutes.

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The joy and excitement that washed over you whenever you saw the gym teacher pull out the huge rainbow parachute. The adrenaline that pumped through your veins whenever your gym teacher tells you the pull the chute under you and sit to make a huge "fort".

6. Putty Erasers

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You always bought one whenever there was a school store.

7. iPod shuffle.

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The smallest, least technological iPpd apple has made, made you the coolest kid at the bus stop.

8. "Education Connection"

You knew EVERY wood to the "Education Connection" commercials. Every. Single.Word.

9. " The Naked Brothers Band"

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The "Naked Brothers Band" had a short run on Nickelodeon and wrote some absolute bangers including, "Crazy Car' and "I Don't Wanna Go To School"

10. Dance Dance Revolution

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This one video game caused so many sibling, friend, and parent rivalries. This is also where you learned all of your super sick dance moves.

11. Tamagotchi

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Going to school with fear of your Tamagotchi dying while you were away was your biggest worry.

12. Gym Scooters

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You, or somebody you know most likely broke or jammed their finger on one of these bad boys, but it was worth it.

13. Scholastic book fairs

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Begging your parents for money to buy a new book, and then actually spending it on pens, pencils, erasers, and posters.

14.Go-Gurt

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Who knew that putting yogurt in a plastic tube made it taste so much better?

15. Slap Bracelets

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Your school probably banned these for being "too dangerous".

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