Weekend Reading List: Wakanda’s Neoliberals, Dolls and Crisis Actors

What to read this weekend: Barbie vs Bratz; conspiracists's idealism and paranoia; and does Black Panther’s Afrofuturist spectacle deliver?

Ryan Coogler, Black Panther, 2018, film still. Courtesy: Marvel Studios

Ryan Coogler, Black Panther, 2018, film still. Courtesy: Marvel Studios

Ryan Coogler, Black Panther, 2018, film still. Courtesy: Marvel Studios

  • With the arrival of Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther (2018) on cinema screens, a round-up of the best essays on the landmark superhero film: Christopher Lebron laments that a work so unique for its black star power ‘depends on a shocking devaluation of black American men’; Kaila Philo writes on how the film both fits into a neoliberal dreamworld and has launched an Afrofuturist moment in cinema; ‘The slave trade is the heartbreak at the core of the film’, writes Namwali Serpell, ‘the unhealable wound, the schism between Africa and America’; and Rahawa Haile considers Black Panther’s sustained forgetting: ‘the convenience of having a fake country within a real continent is the way we can take inspiration from the latter without dwelling on its losses, or the causes of them’.
     
  • Rebecca Asher writes on creative freedom and the landmark Barbie vs Bratz case.
     
  • From Issue 193 of frieze, out now, Jace Clayton interviews Arthur Jafa about the politics of filmmaking, ‘black sites’ and learning how to surprise himself: ‘I see black people’s lives in epic, mythic terms. And, on a simpler level, I want you to look up at these things that are happening to black people, not down – the way you would stare at the sun.’
     
  • What happened to the wisdom of the crowd?
     
  • After conspirary theorists responding to tragic Florida school shooting claimed that eyewitnesses were ‘crisis actors’ (a term appropriated by conspiracists to claim that mass shootings are politically staged events), it’s time to revisit this excellent 2015 piece by Emily Elizabeth Brown: crisis actor believers's ‘combination of idealism and paranoia disrupts the real world in a way that other conspiracy theories don’t.’
     
  • And finally, in the new issue of frieze, Emily Segal asks: why have women been written out of internet history?

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