#Wakandagate. Out of all the terrible things Trump has done, nothing is more infuriating than his ineffectiveness at addressing US-Wakandan relations. Despite his claims of putting “America First,” unfair Vibranium trade policies continue to favor Wakanda and harm American industries.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, there’s also the issue of Wakanda’s blatant disregard for international law. Prince T’Challa has yet to face any repercussions for the unsanctioned acts of vigilantism he committed on American soil, all while fugitive assassin James Barnes remains free from justice thanks to the Wakandan government granting him asylum.

Image Courtesy of Twitter.com

Well… at least that’s what Twitter would have you believe.

In case you didn’t know, Wakanda is the fictional home country of Black Panther. He is a superhero whose movie is coming out in February. But this past week, Wakanda was in the news for a different reason. On Twitter, comedian Sara Benincasa has offered three-hundred dollars to any journalist willing to record themselves asking President Trump about his opinion on US-Wakandan relations. As of now, nobody has taken her up on it, but Benincasa’s tweet did go viral. It jump-started #Wakandagate, a movement where Twitter users act with mock indignation over the Trump administration’s supposed treatment of Wakanda.

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The main point of Benincasa’s offer and #Wakandagate is obvious: trick Trump into saying something stupid. But here’s the thing: when it comes making himself look stupid, Trump’s already gotten away with a lot worse. Trump’s lawyer paid a porn star $130,000 to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Trump. Last Thursday, Trump declared on Twitter that Mexico was the most dangerous country in the world.

In other words, the president is already a ridiculous tabloid star. So what’s the point of asking him about his knowledge of fictional comic book countries?

Pop Culture Versus Politics

Well, the short answer to the above question is: there’s a good chance that it’d still be pretty funny.

You might think that Trump wouldn’t be dumb enough to fall for #Wakandagate. Well, last week Trump bragged about selling F-52 fighter jets to Norway. F-52s don’t exist outside of the video game CALL OF DUTY: ADVANCED WARFARE. So chances are, if you were to ask Trump about Wakanda, he’d probably assume it was a real country.

Watching Trump come up with a belligerent opinion about a fictional nation on the spot would be irrefutable evidence of his dishonesty and ignorance. Those opposed to Trump will feel vindicated that the dangerous idiot they’re so mad about is, in fact, a dangerous idiot they should be mad about.

Image Courtesy of Associated Press

However, let’s consider the (admittedly slight) possibility that Trump does actually know what Wakanda is. Given the recent release of the president’s self-appointed 2017 Fake News Awards, an actual journalist asking Trump a question that’s basically a pop culture reference-based prank could easily fit into his crusade against the press.

If the Wakanda question were to fall flat on its face, it’d be a godsend to Trump’s fanbase. Hollywood obsessed superficial liberals trying to smear their president in the vapidest way possible: by proving that he isn’t up to date on Marvel comic book locations. I can already imagine the Breitbart headline: “Fake News Journalist Fails at Attacking Trump Through Dumb Superhero Reference.”

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As embarrassing as that would be though, I think that’s preferable to the alternative. The Wakanda question works as planned, and despite clearly proving his incompetence, Trump’s public reputation remains exactly the same.

Image Courtesy of DailyMail.com

#Wakandagate & The MCU

Still, perhaps #Wakandagate stands for more than testing Trump’s knowledge of upcoming MCU releases. The truth of the matter is, with or without #Wakandagate and Trump, BLACK PANTHER was always going to be a film with heavy cultural implications. The MCU franchise is currently at its height, but its track record with characters of color is less than impressive. Prior to BLACK PANTHER, heroes of color in the MCU weren’t exactly headliners. As far as the films go, there’s a guy with wings and a palette swap of Iron Man.

Image Courtesy of Marvel Studios

I suppose Nick Fury counts as a superhero if you’re feeling particularly generous. I’m pretty sure he’s not getting his own movie anytime soon though. Thus, an MCU film focusing on something as Afrocentric as Wakanda is kind of a big deal. Given Trump’s recent comments in which he labeled African countries like Haiti and Nigeria as “S–holes,” it’s quite relevant that we’re about to have a portrayal of a utopian African society in a mainstream blockbuster primarily made by African-American artists.

The upcoming film will be the most mainstream representation of Afro-futurism ever put to screen, and will inevitably be used as a pop culture counterpoint against far-right fanboys who freak out whenever anyone but straight white males are the lead characters. Whether it’s intentional or not, there is a feeling of politically charged activism about the film, and #Wakandagate is an expression of that feeling.

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Can #Wakandagate Really Change Anything?

As an expression though, where can #Wakandagate possibly go? It seems to be more than just a dumb joke; it’s been a week since the original tweet was posted, and Benincasa is still urging journalists to take the offer.

Image Courtesy of Twitter.com

But as I said earlier, what is the point of figuring whether or not Trump knows about Wakanda? Either way, it won’t change the minds of those who are continuing to vote for him and his policies. If “grab ‘em by the pussy” and his own son admitting to colluding with the Russians hasn’t destroyed his reputation by now, what’s the use of Trump saying something dumb about Black Panther’s home country?

A Tough Time For Pop Culture

I know I’m being a buzzkill, but these days, it’s difficult not to feel cynical about the state of things. We’re currently in the middle of a government shutdown. Teens are eating laundry detergent pellets to look cool online. Logan Paul featured the corpse of suicide victim on a vacation vlog and still has a devoted fan base made up of children.

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So, perhaps what we really need right now is a bit of levity. Granted, it’d still be pretty depressing if Trump actually did act as if Wakanda was a real country. Still, in comparison to the other stuff he has done so far, I suppose it wouldn’t be that bad.

To be clear, I’ve got nothing against #Wakandagate; regardless of whether or not Trump falls for the question, I think it does have something interesting to say about our tabloid star president and the absurd mediascape he resides over. But for the sake of our collective sanities, I have a request. Regardless of whether we’re left or right, can’t we all just ignore the pop culture hyperbole for once and get our facts straight?

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