The Brett Kimberlin Saga:

Follow this link to my BLOCKBUSTER STORY of how Brett Kimberlin, a convicted terrorist and perjurer, attempted to frame me for a crime, and then got me arrested for blogging when I exposed that misconduct to the world. That sounds like an incredible claim, but I provide primary documents and video evidence proving that he did this. And if you are moved by this story to provide a little help to myself and other victims of Mr. Kimberlin’s intimidation, such as Robert Stacy McCain, you can donate at the PayPal buttons on the right. And I thank everyone who has done so, and will do so.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Black Panther Review: Double Plus Secret Societies

So last night I took a break from work and writing my next post dealing with the Mueller indictment and saw Black Panther.  And I want to talk about it.  As per usual, I’ll keep things spoiler-free above the fold and warn you before I get spoilerific.  Without spoilers, I remember getting a very “Wonder Woman” vibe when reading the reviews.  Now, I liked Wonder Woman.  I own a copy of it and have watched and enjoyed it several times.  It is a legitimately good movie.  But it was much better reviewed than it deserved to be.  And you got the suspicion that people were worried about being called sexist if they dare to be insufficiently exuberant in their praise.

It took me a while to think of what this reminded me of, and then I remembered this video.  Watch it to the end.  It’s pretty amazing/horrifying:

Now, in this video, I am not sure there was any genuine enthusiasm for Stalin.  I mean, if they are that scared of him, how much can they really like him?  On the other hand, I absolutely believe that there is a lot that is genuinely good about Wonder Woman, so I presume that a large part of the praise it got was entirely genuine.  But there was also an element where I wondered if they were going massively over the top just because they were afraid of being “the first one to stop clapping.”  And I began to get the sense that the same thing was happening with Black Panther.

And I was right.  It was good.  I recommend it.  But the praise is waaaaaay over the top.  For instance, I saw reviews comparing Michael B. Jordan’s turn as Killmonger as being like Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight.  If they mean he is as scary as that iconic character, no, he’s not even close and he’s not meant to be.  If they mean well-acted, yeah, Jordan did a pretty damn good job, but in a contest I think I’d still give the win to Ledger.  Although to be fair to Jordan, it’s a bit of comparing apples to oranges.  A good scary performance is much different than what Jordan was giving us.  Jordan’s Killmonger actually more resembles Michael Shannon’s depiction of Zod, in Man of Steel, in that he is shown to be a determined and ruthless follower of comprehensible ideology.  I’m not saying you necessarily agree with their ideology, but it was an ideology that seemed pretty logically consistent and worked out.

(Well, Zod’s ideology was consistent at least until Superman screwed up his plans so thoroughly that Zod completely flipped his sh*t and decided to go on a killing spree, but in that movie’s context it made sense that events would completely break his mind and drive him insane.)

That being said, Killmonger, despite having a silly name (that was surprisingly well-justified in the movie) was really one of the best villains in the Marvel Universe.  And Andy Sirkis is actually pretty awesome as secondary returning villain Klaw.

Also, toward the end, there is a character death that was surprisingly moving—really probably the most moving moment since the funeral at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy 2.

And finally, before we get really spoilerish, let me point out that you don’t need to stay for the final after credits scene.  As we all know, Marvel really loves to put in those mid- and post-credits scenes, sometimes setting up sequels, sometimes tying up a loose end, sometimes schmucking around (I’m looking at you, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, but with affection).  So there is a mid-credits scene that I won’t reveal, but I will say I think it should have just been part of the movie.  And then when all the credits are done, they have an after credits scene that you frankly didn’t need to see (although there are some kids who are pretty funny, so maybe it is worth seeing it for that).  Why you don’t need to see it is...

OKAY, SPOILER ALERT TIME.  ALTHOUGH THIS SPOILER HAS ALREADY BEEN REALLY, REALLY SPOILED. because it gives away the fact that Bucky Barnes is out of stasis and apparently okay.  As you might remember they put him in some kind of stasis in one of the mid- or after-credits scenes in Civil War.  So the after the credits scene in Black Panther reveals that he is out and he seems to be psychologically okay.  Which you already know if you have been watching the ads for Avengers: Infinity War where Buckey is charging at the bad guys along with a ton of Wakandans and I think Captain America.  I mean there is pretty much no other point to that scene except to tell you Bucky is back in action, but like I said, there are some funny kids messing with him, so maybe you want to sit through the credits to see that.


Unlike the Bucky spoiler, this really tells you something that you are not going to get from a Marvel-sanctioned advertisement.  So... you decide whether to proceed.

Okay, still with me?

One thing that is interesting about the movie is this: it confronts one of the weird elements of the “secret society” trope.  In fact, confronting it is what Killmonger’s entire ideology is about.  Indeed, it is fair to say that this is what the whole movie is about.

Let me start by telling you about this fictionalized Wakanda.  Basically, millions of years ago a massive asteroid of vibranium crashed in the middle of Africa (is this what wiped out the dinosuars?).  Vibranium, as you might recall, is a fictionalized material that is the toughest metal in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  It’s what they made Captain America’s shield out of, and you might recall Ultron mentioning that vibranium has all these wonderful properties in them “and they use it to make a frisbee.”  So Vibranium is like a super substance that allows them to do special things with healing and other things.  If you are a fan of Valkyria Chronicles, it’s probably most similar to ragnite, in the sense that it is a fictionalized substance with properties that are practically magic.

So they had a massive amount of the stuff, to the point that even today they are still mining that motherlode.  Five ancient tribes fought over it, and eventually made peace and decided that vibranium was too powerful to let the rest of the world have it.  So they went super-isolationist.  Their mountains were a natural barrier, but they also decided not to do any kind of trade with the outside world.  And they also trick the world into thinking that they have pretty much nothing, when in fact they have Star-Wars-like technology.  So they hide their skyscrapers with what appears to be holograms, and so on, and the rest of the world thinks they are a third world country.

So it belongs in the what I call the “secret society” genre.  The idea is that while we are going about our daily lives, there is a secret world or a secret place we don’t even know about.  Sometimes this society is apart from us, such as the Inhumans living on the moon, or Wakanda, and sometimes they are integrated into our world, such as the Harry Potter world of wizardry and the aliens among us in Men in Black.

I admit I am personally pretty sick of the genre and it has to work hard for me not to get too annoyed with it.  As I see it, there are three big problems with the genre that recurrently occur.

The first problem that often crops up in these stories is how the hell do they keep the secret?  In the case of a kingdom on the moon, natural isolation does a lot to help.  On the other hand, in Men in Black, keeping it secret is pretty much a full-time job.  And often in these secret society stories you get the creepy feeling that the only way they are keeping the secret is by fascist speech limitations.

The second problem is kind of related to the first: isn’t all of this really undemocratic?  This is most pronounced when the secret society is mixed with our own society and no one is telling normal people what is really happening.  For instance, with Stargate SG-1 and related TV shows, the American people are not told about a basic fact in the universe: that we are not alone and in fact we are engaging in several secret wars with various alien species.  That seems wrong for anyone who believes in government by consent of the governed.

The third problem is if that secret society has abilities that might benefit normal people, why aren’t they helping?  Again, look at the Harry Potter “universe” where apparently they can heal many diseases we can’t.  It makes them kind of come off as jerks for not sharing.

Now, not every secret society story implicates all three of these, but they are recurring problems.  For instance, going back to Stargate SG-1, the secrecy is not too crazy: probably two hundred people have to know the secret truth in the show.  The secret society—in this case a galactic community of aliens and humans who have left Earth—has little other way to contact us.  And as for helping with their amazing abilities, they are actually doing that, constantly.  There are entire episodes discussing how they are slowly leaking technology they are recovering from alien civilizations.  And while I knocked the undemocratic nature of the premise of the show—multiple secret alien wars that are not even shared with the American people—they even do their best to make the case that we can’t handle the truth, by having an episode where another civilization learns of the Stargate and collapses into anarchy within a day or two, suggesting that it could happen here.

The Harry Potter world also does a descent job of explaining how the secret is kept by explaining how muggles are constantly having their memories wiped.  There is a whole sequence in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, where they cast a massive amnesia spell over an entire city.  It gets a little strained by the time they reach the modern day, because, well, wouldn’t magical teenagers have cell phones?  And if you look at how non-magical kids behave with their phones, you know what you would expect: moron kids who take selfies as they levitate, or when Harry Potter dies, #RIPHarry would trend on Twitter, competing with Death Eaters tweeting #VoldemortForever or some nonsense like that.  Or at least that is what they would want to do.  So you have to think that the only way their secrets are being kept is if expression in their world is being pretty brutally suppressed.  Either that, or JK Rowling doesn’t believe teenagers would do the sort of things I described, which means she doesn’t know any actual teenagers or remember what it is like to be one.  And of course, the idea is undemocratic as heck.  I mean, there is an entire branch of the British government, the ministry of magic, that most of the people had no idea existed.  Like Stargate SG-1, they make the case that ordinary people can’t handle the truth, which makes a little more sense given the history of actual witch burnings.

As for Black Panther, there is no satisfactory explanation why the secret doesn’t get out.  They imply the place is surrounded by mountains and so its almost like their own Berlin Wall, but those mountains are not utterly impenetrable.  The truth would trickle out, typically.

And they obviously can have mass media and social media in Wakanda, given that they have hologram technology.  The only issue would be creating sufficient “backwards compatability” to transmit to the world at large.  So it can theoretically happen, but does it?  And if not, why not?  Are they brutally suppressing any attempt to communicate with the outside world?  More likely, the creators just think they’re not interested in the outside world, which strikes me as unrealistic.  I just don’t believe any group of people that large could be that monolithic.

As for the lack of democracy issue, well, it’s a monarchy where the king can be chosen by combat, so... not really a democracy issue in the sense that it doesn’t exist in Wakanda and they don’t care.  In other media, I see Black Panther enact democratic reforms, but not in the movies, so far.

And then there is the recurring problem of why the hell they don’t help normal people now and then?  And what is unusual in that not only does the movie take this head on, but it’s a major theme of the story and it drives the plot.  Remember how I said that Killmonger had an ideology that drove him.  That is his ideology.  He comes to Wakanda and he says (paraphrase), “where the f--k have you been?  When they were kidnapping Africans and sending them off into slavery, where the f--k were you?  When European powers were colonizing Africa, where the f--k  were you?”  This is, in part, where the movie gets political, but that question isn’t that political.  Its not very political to say “slavery is bad” and in America, hating colonialism is founding ideology.  His plan, then, is to take over Wakanda, and then use their agents around the world to rise up and overthrow every country until Wakanda rules the Earth, so they can help black people around the world.  And the clash between Black Panther and him is stopping that part of his plan, but Black Panther comes to the conclusion that Wakanda can’t just do nothing.  So at the end, he decides they need to try to help the whole world, peacefully: a middle ground between conquering the world like Killmonger wants, and hiding from the world and letting it go to hell like they did previously.

And that strikes me as the most interesting part of the story.  The basic premise of Wakanda makes them kind of jerks.  Slavery happened, they did nothing.  Nazi Germany happened, they did nothing.  Hell, the Earth nearly ended twice on the Avengers’ watch and they did nothing.

A few other, less spoilerish notes.  First, any notion that Wakanda is depicted as a perfect society doesn’t seem right.  Its kind of racist, and I think most Americans would say that a hereditary monarchy that apparently can be hijacked by choosing leaders by combat is a terrible system of government.  These imperfections in Wakanda might bother you, but I don’t watch movies to see people all behaving perfectly.  I mean, if everyone behaved properly in movies, there would literally be no drama.

So Black Panther was pretty good, and had a real thought in its head, so there is that.  But it is not quite as amazing as the reviews would have you think.

Now, let’s hope they nail Infinity War.


My wife and I lost our jobs due to the harassment of convicted terrorist (and adjudicated statutory rapist) Brett Kimberlin, including an attempt to get us killed and to frame me for a crime carrying a sentence of up to ten years.  I know that claim sounds fantastic, but if you read starting here, you will see absolute proof of these claims using documentary and video evidence.  If you would like to help in the fight to hold Mr. Kimberlin accountable, please hit the donation link on the right.  And thank you.

Follow me at Twitter @aaronworthing, mostly for snark and site updates.



I have accused some people, particularly Brett Kimberlin, of reprehensible conduct.  In some cases, the conduct is even criminal.  In all cases, the only justice I want is through the appropriate legal process—such as the criminal justice system.  I do not want to see vigilante violence against any person or any threat of such violence.  This kind of conduct is not only morally wrong, but it is counter-productive.

In the particular case of Brett Kimberlin, I do not want you to even contact him.  Do not call him.  Do not write him a letter.  Do not write him an email.  Do not text-message him.  Do not engage in any kind of directed communication.  I say this in part because under Maryland law, that can quickly become harassment and I don’t want that to happen to him.

And for that matter, don’t go on his property.  Don’t sneak around and try to photograph him.  Frankly try not to even be within his field of vision.  Your behavior could quickly cross the line into harassment in that way too (not to mention trespass and other concerns).

And do not contact his organizations, either.  And most of all, leave his family alone.

The only exception to all that is that if you are reporting on this, there is of course nothing wrong with contacting him for things like his official response to any stories you might report.  And even then if he tells you to stop contacting him, obey that request.  That this is a key element in making out a harassment claim under Maryland law—that a person asks you to stop and you refuse.

And let me say something else.  In my heart of hearts, I don’t believe that any person supporting me has done any of the above.  But if any of you have, stop it, and if you haven’t don’t start.

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