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CIA Starts Tweeting About ‘Black Panther’; People Have Questions

By  James Barrett

Spike Lee’s personal protest of the Best Picture winner and his call for people to get on the right side of history and vote against “hate” weren’t the only headline-grabbing moments involving the 91st Academy Awards Sunday night. A rather creative — if a bit head-scratching for some followers — series of tweets by the CIA involving the Oscar-nominated film “Black Panther” managed to create some buzz.

In a tweet thread that got picked up by ABC News, the CIA engaged its followers with what it calls its new “#ReelVsRealCIA” series. The intelligence agency announced at the beginning of the Oscars Sunday that during the ceremony they’d be “exploring” the overlap of real vs. fictional technology featured in “Black Panther,” which managed to get seven nominations and take home three (in costume, production design, and score).

“As part of our #ReelvsRealCIA series, & in honor of the 7 #Oscars nominations for @Marvel’s #BlackPanther, we’re exploring how much of #Wakanda’s futuristic technology is available to the real-world intelligence officers of today,” the CIA’s official account tweeted as the festivities kicked off.

“During tonight’s #Oscars we’ll ask a series of poll questions to get your views on the feasibility of Wakandan technology today & share the expertise of a top CIA scientist, ‘Rebecca,’ on how #Wakanda’s tech matches up w/emerging ‘real life’ tech,” the agency explained.

The agency then asked its first poll question: “In #BlackPanther, a unique metal called #vibranium helped the fictional African nation of #Wakanda become the most technologically advanced country on the planet. Do think vibranium is: A real metal, Based upon real metals, Possible future tech, Total fiction”

A majority (55%) correctly answered “total fiction,” while 8% said it was real, 20% said it was based on real metals, and 17% thought it was a real possibility in the future.

“The #vibranium in Black Panther’s suit protects him from kinetic damage, & vibranium sneakers are both super-quiet & amazing shock absorbers for jumping. Those would be great for spies, right?” the CIA added.

Just to be clear, the agency then made sure people knew vibranium isn’t real: “The magic metal from #Wakanda might not exist, but there are real-life materials that possess some similar qualities to those of the fictional Wakandan isotope, #vibranium.”

As ABC notes, that last line triggered some questions from followers, including mocking questions about the CIA’s role in taking down the “real-life” violence-embracing Black Panthers, whether or not the CIA has an opinion on ghosts, Area 51, or “ghosts of aliens,” and why the CIA was wrecking everyone’s fictional world party. One user wonder, “Y’all hacked?” Another summed up a bunch of people’s responses: “I don’t know how to feel right now. I’m on the fence between being intrigued and wondering why you’re tweeting about this.” Still others celebrated the agency for having some fun and trying to inform the public in a creative way.

A few examples of responses:

Despite some negative reactions, the CIA wasn’t discouraged and kept on tweeting, including another poll: “If real, which of these Wakandan technologies do you think would be the most appealing to real-world spies? Sand Tables (12%), Panther Habit (13%), Lesotho Blankets (22%), and Holograms (53%).”

The agency then followed up by providing some real-world thoughts about each:

Holograms: They’re real-life hot tech right now & as they improve, intel practitioners in the future could incorporate holographic displays for operations or holographic projections to illustrate situations to the President or other policymakers.

Lesotho Blankets: One of the least plausible technologies in #BlackPanther, but if you could weave carbon nanotubes into a cloak & add in some hologram effects, you’d have a shield that would be the envy of any intel service operating in a warzone.

Panther Habit: Rather than suits for superheroes, in the real world people are interested in nanoparticles for biotech & medicine, but the world’s spy agencies might like outfits that could reform on the fly in order to foil surveillance.

Sand Tables: The ability to remotely manipulate objects from a distance & physically interact w/data or temporary items would allow people, including intelligence officers, to get hands-on w/information & work together from different locations.

And they still weren’t done. Another poll: “Which fictional Wakandan technology would you most like to see made real in the future? Virtual Cars (43%), Kimoyo Beads (28%), Panther Habit (13%), Lesotho Blankets (16%).”

After noting that “Rebecca” would like to see Kimoyo beads the most, the agency signed off by thanking everyone for joining them and wishing “Black Panther” good luck at the Oscars.

Related: Trump Has Message For Spike Lee After His ‘Racist Hit’ On Him At Oscars

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