Black Panther is a major hit because of its inclusive message and all-star cast, but the movie definitely doesn't get enough credit for its comedic moments. Screenwriters Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole managed to sneak in more than a few hilarious zingers into the action-packed Marvel movie, including one moment that references the infamous "What Are Thoooose?" meme. As it turns out, the "What Are Those?" creator hates the Black Panther joke, but he may be literally the only person in the world who feels that way.
Early on in the movie, T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) visits his sister Shuri's (Letitia Wright) lab to learn about her upgrades to his Black Panther suit when she hits him with the ultimate diss. "And what are these?" he asks, pointing to one of Shuri's thousands of impressive technological marvels. "The real question is, 'What are thoooose?'" she asks as the camera cuts to his objectively heinous sandals. "Why are your toes out in my lab?" she asks. T'Challa shows off his "royal sandals," but Shuri can't refuse the opportunity to make fun of her brother, king or not. "I bet the elders loved it," she jokes. Shuri may be a genius, but she's not too smart to appreciate a good meme.
The original "What Are Those?" meme was created by Brandon Moore, aka Busco, in 2015 when he asked a police officer, Sgt. Sean Fenner, about his standard issue black boots. Busco immediately became an internet legend, but when his joke appeared in Black Panther, he wasn't too happy. "When I saw [the scene], my girl was trying to record it," he told HuffPost. "I slapped the phone out of her hand, because I was like, 'I don’t want to f***ing be a part of this.'" He continued, "Every time I see that sh*t, I get depressed."
Busco's main issue with Black Panther's use of his meme, as he told HuffPost, is that no one knows he's the man behind the original video (which, HuffPost says, now has almost 40 million loops and more than 200,000 re-vines). In particular, Busco says he regrets not getting a copyright on the "What Are Those?" meme and he regrets not watermarking the original video. "I be depressed every time knowing I didn’t full court press on an opportunity that I created," he told HuffPost. While he did make money off the meme — he got a contract with Vine and YouTube out of it — Busco says he quickly became sick of it when people began copying it. "People were treating me different. Family was treating me different, thinking I made it. This is social media. I didn’t make sh*t... it got fake after a while," he said.
While the creator of the "What Are Those?" meme may hate that Black Panther included it in the movie, the meme's subject, Sgt. Fenner, feels differently. Fenner has enjoyed the fame that the meme has brought him, and he told HuffPost that he gets recognized all the time because of it. "[A kid] called me lightweight famous," he said. "So all around the police department, that's what they say." When he's recognized on the street, he plays along — he even reportedly put "What Are Those?" on his license plate.
Unlike Busco, Sgt. Fenner loves that Black Panther joined in on the "What Are Those?" fun:
For them to put it into Black Panther, which right now is the first black superhero movie, the No. 1 grossing movie of 2018, and maybe as it’s going, of all time... for them to just go ahead and put this bead in there, it’s like it enshrined it in pop culture.
That it is.
I totally respect the "What Are Those?" creator's opinions on this one, but from where I'm sitting, this Black Panther moment is just too funny to ignore.