Lifewriting is a breakthrough in conceptualizing the basic nature of writing and creative living. The intent is to teach you to apply the combined wisdom of humanity to your own life…and the wisdom you have gained in your life to the stories you create (if you are a writer).
Here’s a SPOILERIFIC view of “Black Panther” from the Lifewriting Perspective.
HERO CONFRONTED WITH A CHALLENGE: To be both a good man and a good king.
HERO REJECTS THE CHALLENGE: Ultimately, he will have to reject his hero-worship of his ancestors to be worthy to stand among them. Doing this is “Killing the Buddha”, rejecting his father as an image of perfection. He cannot be his own man until he does this, and he puts it off as long as he can, as most of us do.
ACCEPTS THE CHALLENGE: By taking on the mantle of king, he is now in the arena. The train is leaving the station.
ROAD OF TRIALS: His ritual combat for the throne. Travel to Korea to catch his father’s killer. Accepting Killmonger’s challenge: attempting to be “a good man” and pull his punches initially. “Death” and rebirth and rejection of his father’s self-justified actions. Return as the king.
ALLIES AND POWERS: Shuri, Ramonda, Nakia, Okoye, M’Baku, T’Chaka, etc. His courage, physical skills, the “Black Panther” superpowers, intelligence and problem solving, and compassion. In a very real sense, even Erick Killmonger was an ally, as he ultimately awakened T’Challa’s moral sense.
CONFRONT EVIL-DEFEATED: Temporary defeat by Killmonger is the EXTERNAL defeat. But there is a deeper INTERNAL one: realization that his father, to protect his kingdom, family (and perhaps ego) not just killed his brother, but abandoned his nephew to poverty and want (catch the metaphor?).
DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL: A literal fall into the abyss (external defeat) and sundering of his relationship with his father to become his own man.
LEAP OF FAITH: In a higher power (the Panther Goddess trusted them with godlike power), in his companions (that the essence of being a king is making hard decisions and wielding power with both authority and compassion. They did they best they could in THEIR time, but to be worthy of them, he must go beyond them) and in himself (this is HIS time. HE gets to decide what kind of king he will be.)
CONFRONT EVIL–VICTORIOUS: Killmonger had been corrupted by his deprevation and programming. T’Challa beats him, defeating Erick’s lifetime ambition…
STUDENT BECOMES THE TEACHER: Offering compassion to his defeated foe, they deal with each other as two men. As brothers, two sides of the same coin. Killmonger is offered life, but chooses death (worthwhile to note that his lovely line about making the choice of death his ancestor’s made…is bullshit. He is descended from a Wakandan father and a black American mother whose ancestors chose LIFE. I chuckled a bit…after I wiped away a tear.) But note that you could easily map this entire movie from Killmonger’s perspective. That he made choices which, classically, doomed him. There was no way to kill his “Ride or Die Girl” and still deserve the throne. No way to dishonor the Wakandan traditions by destroying the Panther herbs or brutalizing the priestess and claim he had his people’s best interests at heart. But if his words and actions were in conflict, he still taught T’Challa, changed him in a way no other Marvel villain has ever changed a hero. T’Challa learns…teaches Killmonger the power of compassion…and also teaches his country that they MUST open themselves to the world, and at the very last scene, is about to teach black Americans another aspect of their heritage. Powerful, powerful stuff.
Note that this film might be interpreted a thousand different ways, almost like an historical event, and certainly like quality art throughout time. It has a synchrony of philosophical and political perspectives contained within a package of world-class storytelling and unique imagery. THIS is what entertainment is capable of being and doing.
When you watch great art, you gain perspective on your life. This requires that the artist themselves spend time asking “who am I?” and “what is true?” and either come to further or different conclusions. They don’t have to be brilliant, but they DO need to be honest. When they are both…you get something special.