I suppose it says something pretty obvious that there’s no film listed at IMDb under the title White Superman, nor indeed White Spider-Man (and White Chicks, 2004, is a film about two black guys, neither of them minstrels), and I guess that White Wolverine (Angry Tanned Unshaven Wolverine?) is still in development purgatory. Never mind. [For the record, the film Panther (1995) tells the Black Panther movement’s story.] Reading a preview article*, a week or two back, about the new Black Panther film, I came across this. The article referred to last year’s Wonder Woman film “shattering the notion that comic-book films should only be made in the image of a young male audience”. Then the article suggested that Black Panther is “out to challenge assumptions of race, not gender”.
Reader, I saw the film. Both films. Wonder Woman has been around for a while (first appearance in 1941, says Wikipedia). In Gal Gadot’s 2017 interpretation, she doesn’t wear her underpants outside her tights in the approved manner for superheroes, doesn’t wear tights at all, but apart from that (and ignoring a jokey moment when she rejects a long skirt), she just goes ahead and does the superhero thing. Lots of property damage; supervillain defeated after much adversity. One of the principal villains is a woman. Can’t say I came out of the cinema feeling that my assumptions of gender had just been challenged, though. That was a superhero. In a superhero movie. Enjoyed it. Enough said.
Black Panther is another superhero film. There are references to oppression, the slave trade, and the morality of the film is all the more thought-provoking for not being the usual clear-cut good/bad divide. Martin Freeman, playing a CIA agent, is on the receiving end of the only apparently racist (it seemed to me) moment. It was oddly difficult to take sides in the central dispute, and I felt for the “bad guy”. Towards the end (stay to the very end of the credits), the punchline of the movie was, from memory, “We all have to work together as if we are one single tribe.” But for all that, it was another superhero film. Enjoyed it. Can’t say that I came out of the cinema feeling that, et cetera, race, challenged, because I’m not sure that I went in with any. The bodyguards were women, but actually, they were bodyguards. Gender wasn’t an issue. The skin was skin-coloured.
And that’s the point. I’m not qualified (sic) to talk about racism in this country, for the same reason that I don’t consider myself a feminist. But it seems to me that we shouldn’t miss the moments when our attitudes suddenly turn out not to be there any more. Is that how change happens? It creeps up on us? We get so used to thinking one way that we don’t notice that the world has changed and us with it? Part of the outrage of unequal pay, and the same goes for racism, today, in this century, in this country, now, is that it’s so incongruous. It’s not just wrong; we all know it’s wrong. Only companies and people (and political parties?) that have failed to emerge from the past tolerate gender inequality (and racism?).
They're anachronisms facing a simple challenge: change, or fade into irrelevance. For the rest of us, though, there is still a challenge, albeit a slightly more complex one: recognise that you've changed; acknowledge change. Hulk wasn't "made in the image of a young male audience", and nor were, say, the Fantastic Four. Mr and Mrs Incredible were made in the image of a hard-working family, come to think of it. There's a cover, I think, showing Captain America in a punch-up with Hitler. Most of the superheroes, in real-world terms, and this goes for Wonder Woman and Black Panther as well, are old enough to be our great-grandparents. I'd guess that they've grown out of assumptions, etc., and it's time we did too.
*Interesting article, about more than just the film. Pow! The superhero who got under my skin by Ekow Eshun, Life & Arts section of the Weekend FT, 3rd/4th February 2018.
Nothing is definitively right or wrong. It's all a step towards whatever happens next. Negotiations on big international treaties and issues are invariably reported as processes towards a form of words that everybody can sign, rather than processes towards a solution. Everything is a can to be kicked down the road. Europe isn't going away, and nor are we.
Globalisation has given us embarrassment about the national tendency to get excited about the weather. There are countries that get more snow, for longer, that manage perfectly well. We must look ridiculous, goes the conversation, as we try to scrape together enough snow for a snowman from around the abandoned cars. But it's not the snow that's exciting; it's the unpredictability. Went to bed last night to a snow scene; peaceful, quiet. Woke up this morning (having been woken up several times in the night) to find the snow more or less gone, temperature above freezing, and the forecast storm, Storm Emma, living up to its designation for once.
It's very windy. So windy, in fact, that you could almost put money on tomorrow being a flat-calm day, possibly thick fog but more likely a warm sun in a clear blue sky. Or maybe snow again. That's what's exhilarating. Must get some wood for my lovely little Anevay stove - tea party on the beach tomorrow.