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The Cultural Importance of Marvel’s Black Panther

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My preparation for the release of Black Panther, really the preparation of all of my close friends and family, likely many of yours as well, has less to do with anticipation of what we will see on screen, and nearly everything to do with the very real fact that the film exists.

This preparation in what to wear, who to go with, how many times to see the film, who to commiserate with on social media…all stem from the very important space occupied by a film about a fictional African king and hero, from a fictional African nation, in a fictional grand comic book universe.

Black Panther, above all else, represents an opportunity for a community to experience itself as being fully realized in public. On screen. A self-contained world where the ruler, the hero, the loves, the society, the ways…all look and believe and know like they do. It is rather unique, and thus exciting, to know that Black men, women and children, will be the focus of the tale. Not sidekicks, or adjuncts. Central. Fully meaningful. Opportunities such as these are few for Black people. Anywhere in the diaspora.

Black Panther is important for the meditative space it will provide. There will be a time where many will lapse into feelings of self-love. Feelings that aren’t typically promoted in media. As a Black person, you are allowed to see all of the most flawed versions of your family, but rarely can you see a broad version of your best.

This film, once you begin to peel at its layers, is pressing Afrofuturism. A vision of a future that has a Black face, body and mind, that is felt and known in all three dimensions of much of Black life. The Dora Milaje are nurturers, warriors, partners and friends. That is precisely how much of the Black community experiences our mothers, sisters, lovers and neighbors. It houses a young man learning his way in the world, fighting outside influence…these are all stories out of the journal of Black life, anywhere. Made real. With an adventure as a backdrop.

The importance of Black Panther, its excitement, its allure, is in its most critical meaning. That it can be shared with our neighbors of all backgrounds, but it is ultimately about us. Not just one of us, being a superpowered hero somewhere in Africa, but one of us. A person. Black, and strong. Supported. Experiencing all that every other human person can.

And do understand, that is an important distinction, as our lives are often portrayed in marginalized and limited ways. While an Marvel entity, the social experience around the movement toward this film’s release feels like it is a community property. It is ours.

There will be those who will suggest, from their view, that it is simply a film. They would be having only part of the conversation. There is a history and a psychology to consider. Rarely are there opportunities for the overall Black community to see itself represented fully, unashamedly, in full view of our nation family. This will be a real live party. Two hours worth of enjoying our skin, where we typically have to survive being in it.

This film is a powerful tool as a seed. Seeing the enthusiasm, the wide eyed joy, that many are experiencing as it draws near, suggests that there will be more opportunities on grand stages for art with central Black characters and stories. Like this one, they can be told and crafted by Black creators and crafts people. It represents a simple chance to suggest to the necessary powers and thinkers that our community can be painted across all media with as wide a storytelling arc as possible. On screen, on page, wherever we are, we can be represented in all human pursuits.

Some of my neighbors in other communities will be uncomfortable with this level of celebration and pageantry. They will look to pick the film apart critically. They will opine that all of this noise for a film that won’t change anything “in the grand scheme” is unwarranted. I would respond that none of those concerns is a relevant one. Not in this moment. What matters most now is what is coming. A film about us, that we have made for us, that all of them, all of you, get to share with us. Because, do know that we have made it ours. It is a community feast, and all are invited. It is best to leave any misgivings at home.

The world outside of Wakanda will be in the backdrop, just as we all know that we will return to real life in over two hours after the film starts. Just as we know that all of the racial and supremacist, and oppressive ills of the world will be waiting, so will T’Challa and his people be ready for them. It is not so much fiction, as it is considered a music video for the kind of efforts Black people feel we must often make to face the world each day.

And there is where the connection is. The central human one. Where comics, and heroes represent a projection of us. An idealized version of us. In those pages, and on those screens are moments to escape our doubt and fear, to see someone we attach ourselves to, face the issues and falter, as we do, and name those fears, and strike at them, with it all on the line. For the human psyche, that is a kind of therapy. We all, all of us, everywhere, want for that to be us.

But in this moment, just here, with Black Panther, this is for us. It is the time for a Black man who is now king, and Black women who are powerful, and Black children to have a land of their own to name, to know that this will be us on screen. And that has so much hopeful and personal meaning. A soil we are not often allowed to plant our beliefs in. Here, we can escape to it.

And you all get to venture off with us. You are most welcome. Wipe your feet before entering and having a seat. Appreciate what you are seeing. Let us go.

Written by: Napoleon Wells

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Frogfathers lessons from the Normandy surf

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Frog Fathers: Lessons from the Normandy Surf” is a deeply moving documentary directed by Bob Whitney, narrated by John C McGinley, and presented by World of Warships and FORCE BLUE. It chronicles the journey of four Navy SEAL veterans revisiting the site of the D-Day landings to honor their forefathers and gain a deeper understanding of the sacrifices made during World War II.

The film’s strength lies in its raw emotional impact and historical significance. It blends personal narratives with archival footage, offering a poignant tribute to the bravery and resilience of those who fought on June 6, 1944. The veterans’ reflections and the cinematography effectively capture the solemnity and reverence of their pilgrimage.

While the documentary focuses primarily on the veterans’ experiences, it also serves as an educational tool, highlighting the strategic importance of the Normandy invasion and its pivotal role in shaping modern history. The film’s respectful approach and engaging storytelling make it a compelling watch for anyone interested in military history and the enduring legacy of the D-Day heroes.

Overall, “Frog Fathers” is a powerful and heartfelt documentary that honors the past while inspiring present and future generations to remember the sacrifices made for freedom 

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American Horror Story: Delicate

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As most of us are already aware, the 12th Season of AHS has been fraught with all kinds of differences to the previous seasons, mainly in that this is the first one to be based entirely off a novel, ‘Delicate Condition’ by Danielle Valentine. The first half of the season aired in October 2023 to mediocre reviews, while the SAG-AFTRA strike caused production and airing delays for the latter half of the season, and the episodes of Part 2 were all cut to less than an hour long apiece. And none of that is even getting into the disjointed attempt at storytelling for Season 12, so let’s dive into this! 

Meet Anna Victoria Alcott (Emma Roberts), former young ling star of Hollywood now struggling to recapture fame as an adult, who wants a baby, very very badly. Bad enough to drive herself and her husband Dex (Matt Czuchry) through multiple unsuccessful rounds of IVF (in-vitro fertilization), bad enough to keep trying no matter how crushing each failure turns out to be, bad enough to involve her purported best friend and bougie publicist Siobhan Corbyn (Kim Kardashian) in her struggles, and maybe, just maybe, bad enough to give up on a burgeoning resurgence of her career after interest in her comeback role for The Auteur begins garnering her Oscar-worthy attention. 

So, Anna and Dex are going to go through yet another round of IVF, likely one of their last attempts at it, from a different doctor, Dr. Andrew Hill (Denis O’Hare), and clinic based on Siobhan’s recommendation. And already, strange things are beginning to happen to Anna – her appointments that she set herself begin springing up incorrectly, a doom saying woman called Preacher (Julia White) shows up spouting warnings about trusting no one, dire warnings appear in unlikely places, and BTW, it seems as though long-suffering but good-nurtured Dex has a side-piece too. It doesn’t help that Dex’s new partner at his art gallery, Sonia Shawcross (Annabelle Dexter-Jones), bears a striking resemblance to his dead ex-wife Adeline, either. Those spiked emerald heels start appearing weirdly too, and it seems as though no one will listen to Anna as she grows more and more suspicious that some sort of sinister cult has designs on her as-yet-unborn baby. At the same time, Anna tries to live the life of a successful returning actress, attending parties and gallery openings while draping her rapidly-expanding middle in shimmering fabrics and actively ‘campaigning’ for that little golden statue that most actors covet. Competition is fierce, even among her co-stars of The Auteur, and while Anna wants to be supportive of her fellow entertainers, she clearly appears to be incapable of doing both at the same time – wanting the baby and the little gold award at the same time is too much to ask, apparently. 

Elsewhere, mostly in the past, various women in states of desperation formed from one situation or another are visited by sinister-looking women in prim black dresses, headgear reminiscent of – to me anyway – an odd cross betwixt birds and bunnies, my guess is an ostensive nod to fertility in general, and a general feeling of blood-bound witchery about them at critical moments of crossroad choices. 

Though the second half of the season moves a good deal faster than the first, the attempts at callbacks and reminder flashes to Part 1 hit with all the impact of a dropped bag of garbage onto their friends Talia’s (Julia Canfield) borrowed bougie kitchen floor – splat, into incomprehensible silence, from all parties, both characters and audience, concerned. Even the reminders that, in Part 1 of Delicate Dex’s mother Virginia Harding (Debra Monk) did indeed have perfectly valid memories of abuse at the hands of a black cult and Dex’s own father Dex Sr. (Reed Birney), the revelation pales and peels away in the face of Dex’s true parentage. 

Which brings us back around full circle kinda sorta, to the only real character worth a damn in this entire miserable season of strange feminism and aspirations of world domination through a kind of idiotic Rosemary’s Baby nightmare scenario, we should have known she’d steal the show when Kardashian was cast for it, Siobhan Corbyn, leader of the blood cult her high and mighty (old) self. Throughout the whole show her character has remained exactly the same, and it’s a wonder Anna can stare at her all stupefied while Siobhan does her villain speech at the end of the last episode. Siobhan never masked her ambition or greed, her mysterious protective vibe and even deep love for Anna, and can always be counted on to have secret plans of her own, already in motion, bitch. 

The idea that Anna herself was used as a surrogate for Siobhan and her incestuous eugenicist plans, plus the sweet little demon baby she just birthed, has an ironic the-world-is-tilting-the-wrong-way kind of witchy madness to it. Sure, Anna really can have it all, the baby and the golden statue, if only she joins the patriarchy-crushing cabal of blood witches with world domination plans, got it. 

I have questions, or I would have, but things are moving on and Anna is being saved by … Dex’s dead ex, Adaline the former member of the coven right okay her, she’s going to show back up and offer Anna a simple chant to Hestia her patron Goddess, and that is somehow enough to deal with Siobhan entirely – poof. And finally, after all that rigamarole, decades of planning and scheming and witchy plotting finally settled, Anna really can have it all as a White Witch of Hollywood, heaven help us, with her perfectly human baby and that damned little golden statue, clutched in an only slightly desperate grip. 

As with any season of AHS there are a great deal of statements that could be implied just under the skin of the season – the canker way of ambition, the millenia-old pain of a woman giving birth, the savagery and bloodshed that comes with bringing forth life, pushback against both the patriarchy and ultra-feminism, the absolute desperation of humans wanting to have a child, and perhaps strangest and most open to interpretation of all, what it means to be feminine. The worlds population of women who can’t or don’t or simply won’t have children, for any reason or none, are relegated to servants, expendable servants at that, for this new world order that Siobhan is proposing, and that is far too close a comfort to things like outright slavery. A dictator is a dictator, no matter how great she looks in those emerald spiked heels. 

It’s not the really beautiful grotesquerie that Ryan Murphy and his AHS gang are often known for, nor is it utterly terrible and should be burned at the stake. What Delicate should be, is put back together with missing and cut footage, an hour long per episode again come on folks, fleshed some more of Siobhan’s baby-stealing adventures in the past and given us an actual reason to like anything about the whiny Anna, at least the Part 2 we as longtime AHS fans deserve. Toss in some more spidery hijinks! Give us the actual origin of those weird feather bunny-ear headdresses! 

American Horror Story Delicate the whole season can be seen on FX! 

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Jurassic Park: Unraveling the Mystery in a World Gone Prehistoric!

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Hold onto your hats, dino fans! The highly anticipated sequel to the adrenaline-pumping Camp Cretaceous saga is here, and it’s taking us on a wild ride six years in the making. Following the harrowing events of Camp Cretaceous, our beloved “Nublar Six” are back, but they’re not out of the woods just yet. In fact, they’re about to plunge headfirst into a world where dinosaurs roam freely alongside dangerous humans, and trust us when we say, it’s a Jurassic jungle out there!

Picture this: a world where survival isn’t just about avoiding sharp-toothed predators but also navigating the treacherous waters of human greed and deceit. As our resilient heroes reunite in the aftermath of a heart-wrenching tragedy, they quickly realize that danger lurks around every corner, and trust is a luxury they can’t afford. 

But wait, there’s more! Prepare to embark on a globetrotting adventure like no other as the Nublar Six find themselves thrust into the heart of a conspiracy that threatens not only the fragile balance between dinosaurs and humanity but also their very existence. From the lush jungles of Isla Nublar to the bustling streets of bustling cities, buckle up for a rollercoaster ride of epic proportions as our intrepid group races against time to uncover the truth about one of their own and, ultimately, save both dinosaur and humankind from certain doom.

So, dear readers, if you thought you’d seen it all in Jurassic Park, think again! With heart-stopping action, pulse-pounding suspense, and jaw-dropping revelations, this latest installment promises to be a game-changer in the Jurassic universe. Get ready to roar with excitement because Jurassic Park: Unraveling the Mystery is about to take a bite out of your imagination and leave you hungry for more!

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