Black Panther is much more than a superhero movie

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A visitor checks out a Lexus car, similar to a one used in the Black Panther film, that is on display outside an invitation-only screening, at the King Abdullah Financial District Theater, in Riyadh, on April 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
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A visitor checks out a Lexus car, similar to a one used in the Black Panther film, that is on display outside an invitation-only screening, at the King Abdullah Financial District Theater, in Riyadh, on April 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
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An actor poses with a replica of a vintage cinema camera as visitors enter an invitation-only screening, at the King Abdullah Financial District Theater, in Riyadh,on April 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
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Moviegoers wait to attend an invitation-only screening, at the King Abdullah Financial District Theater, in Riyadh, on April 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
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A Saudi man poses for a photograph during a cinema test screening in Riyadh on April 18, 2018. (AFP / Fayez Nureldine)
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A Saudi arrives to attend a cinema test screening in Riyadh on April 18, 2018. Blockbuster action flick "Black Panther" play at a cinema test screening in Saudi Arabia on April 18, the first in a series of trial runs before movie theatres open to the wider public next month. (AFP / Fayez Nureldine)
Updated 18 April 2018

Black Panther is much more than a superhero movie

  • The young king’s name in the movie is T’Challa, who rules the fictional African nation of Wakanda, a land that has has unmatched wealth, technological development and prosperity.
  • To protect itself, the rulers of the country have always kept the country’s greatness a secret, refusing to open its borders, engage in either war or humanitarian efforts

DUBAI: Black Panther may be a Marvel superhero movie, but it’s hard to describe the story without it sounding darn-near Shakespearean. A young king takes the throne after his father’s tragic death. When he finds out the truth about his father’s legacy, and the mistakes his father made as a leader, he must grapple with the fate of his country—keeping it out of the hands of a charismatic and dangerous man who arrives to take the throne and change its direction.
The young king’s name is T’Challa, and he rules the fictional African nation of Wakanda, a land that has, due to a special natural resource found only there, has unmatched wealth, technological development and prosperity. To protect itself, the rulers of the country have always kept the country’s greatness a secret, refusing to open its borders, engage in either war or humanitarian efforts.
What makes Black Panther so potent is the question T’Challa is faced with — what is a powerful country’s role in the world? — has no easy answers. Even better, the film’s central antagonist, Killmonger, who arrives in Wakanda to change the country into a direct interventionist, makes thought-provoking points of his own, as the best villains do, forcing T’Challa to consider a different path forward.
There are many reasons why Black Panther became a global phenomenon. As the first Marvel superhero film to feature a predominantly black cast from a young black director, it showed audiences something they’d never seen before. That representation will mean so much to communities that Hollywood has traditionally underrepresented, and to young viewers looking up at the screen to see a hero that looks like them, across the world.
What will make this film resonate is that, while providing plenty of action spectacle, beautiful stars, art direction, costumes and superheroism, it is a film with a lot on its mind, asking many questions about how the world should approach its future, and how it should reckon with the many sins of its past.
While the film doesn’t provide enough satisfying answers, the debates it has sparked, and will continue to spark, are what make it an essential film, especially in a country embarking on a new future, and asking these same questions itself.


Saudi TikTok users weigh in on potential app ban

Photo/Supplied
Updated 12 July 2020

Saudi TikTok users weigh in on potential app ban

  • Due to pandemic, interest in the app skyrocketed as many users watch videos and try to recreate them while in quarantine

RIYADH: Chinese video platform TikTok is under fire once again, as rumors of the app being a tool used by the Chinese government to spy on users resurface online.

TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, is a video-sharing site similar to the now-defunct Vine, where users share short clips of themselves which can be altered using AI technology.
Lip-syncing along with a track, using filters, and adding special effects give users the chance to create short clips that can be shared and downloaded in several social media platforms.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, interest in the app skyrocketed as many users downloaded TikTok to watch videos and try to recreate them while in quarantine. The app has also gained significant popularity in the Middle East with influencers such as Saudi model Roz, UAE-based content creators Khalid and Salama, and Saudi top TikToker iimeeto, who recently celebrated reaching four million followers on the platform.
Rania Mohammed, a fourth year medical student at Dar AlUloom University in Riyadh, said that TikTok was “the only thing keeping her sane” as she struggled with the pressures of school and quarantine.
“As a med school student, my attention span and free time are both severely limited,” she told Arab News. “Taking a 15 minute break to watch silly TikToks has helped me keep motivated. The specific brand of humor on that app is the fastest way to make me laugh.”
Mai Alhumood, a government employee, said that she downloaded the app while she was bored and became “quickly addicted” to the platform’s fun short videos.
“People are so creative on TikTok, and the challenges that keep going viral are so interesting,” she told Arab News.
However, the app has long-suffered from accusations of spying and gathering users’ private information on behalf of the Chinese government, leading to both temporary and permanent bans in countries around the world.
Recently, it was reported that Amazon requested that employees remove the app from their smartphones in an email over “security risks.” The company later retracted its directive.
Saudi cybersecurity expert Abdullah Al-Jaber believed that concerns over the security of TikTok’s collected data stemmed from the app’s country of origin and its rules and regulations.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Following a provisional ban in April 2019, India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology banned TikTok permanently in June this year, along with 58 other Chinese apps. The ministry claimed that the apps were a ‘threat to the sovereignty and security of the country’ following a Himalayan border clash with Chinese troops in the disputed territory of Ladakh.

• Indonesia temporarily blocked TikTok in July 2018, citing public concern regarding ‘illegal content’ such as pornography and blasphemy. However, the app was unblocked following various changes from TikTok such as the opening of a government liaison office and implementing security mechanisms.

• Recently, the US became the third country to seriously consider banning the app, according to information from President Donald Trump’s administration. Trump also weighed in on a potential TikTok ban. He said that banning the app would be ‘punishing China for its response to the coronavirus.’

“TikTok collects data in a very similar way to US applications,” he told Arab News. “However the main concern is that the US has regulations and compliance that must be met when collecting customer data, such as GDPR data privacy regulation. In the case of TikTok, we don’t know as much about how the data is being used or stored because we don’t know their regulations.”
Following a provisional ban in April 2019, India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology banned TikTok permanently in June this year, along with 58 other Chinese apps. The ministry claimed that the apps were a “threat to the sovereignty and security of the country” following a Himalayan border clash with Chinese troops in the disputed territory of Ladakh.
Indonesia temporarily blocked TikTok in July 2018, citing public concern regarding “illegal content” such as pornography and blasphemy. However, the app was unblocked following various changes from TikTok such as the opening of a government liaison office and implementing security mechanisms.
Recently, the US became the third country to seriously consider banning the app, according to information from President Donald Trump’s administration.
Trump also weighed in on a potential TikTok ban. In an interview with Gray Television, Trump said that banning the app would be “punishing China for its response to the coronavirus.”
“Look, what happened with China with this virus, what they’ve done to this country and to the entire world is disgraceful,” he said.
While Saudi Arabia has yet to announce a ban of any kind of TikTok, local users and followers are trying to practice caution while using the app anyway.
Alhumood considered making videos on the platform, but dismissed the idea and only uses it to follow other people’s videos.
“I have ideas for it, sure, but I’d rather not take the risk. I don’t even have a username or a registered account, and that’s one of the better things about TikTok. I only have the app, but I can still watch all the videos without giving them my private information.”
Mohammed also said that she had no interest in creating videos herself, though she did have a registered account in order to comment on videos and keep track of her favorites.
However Al-Jaber said that, in his opinion, registering an account on TikTok did not necessarily pose more of a risk than using other social media.
“If you use Facebook or Twitter, it’s not much different than using TikTok,” he said.