Sorry to Bother You

Sorry to Bother You's cred was established today when the Academy announced its nominations for 2019. Its director, Boots Riley, will not be attending that party. His film was completely shut out. And there is a good reason for this. Riley is not center-left (Dems), or left (Social Democracy). The brother is a Marxist, and his film makes this political position very clear. Though many have described Sorry to Bother You as a satire or surrealist, it is, instead, an almost perfect reflection of the world as it actually is.

To get my meaning, I will begin by pointing out that the former finance minister of Greece, Yanis Varoufakis, once described science fiction thriller The Matrix as a documentary about one of the many contradictions in capitalism (it wants to transform humans into complete commodities, but the complete commodification of humans would result in its own destruction—throw in some kung fu, some Christian and Jewish mythology, some corporate robots, and a futuristic mammy, and you got The Matrix in a nutshell). Sorry to Bother You, which has science fictional elements, is, when compared to The Matrix, even more than just a documentary of current capitalism. It is a live newscast from what French philosophers love to call "everyday life." And as such, Hollywood had to reject it. Americans "cannot bear very much reality."

BlacKkKlansman and Green Book, films that are not as good—in the artistic sense—as Sorry to Bother You, were nominated because they could be. They present critiques of our society with the hope that it will improve. These films—like the center-left politics of Hollywood, Dems, and the Oscars—believe progress is possible. The awful world that is only needs to see the light. This is what's meant by a "problem film." Sorry to Bother You is no such work. It presents a critique from which nothing can be salvaged from the present state of affairs. There is simply no hope in this film, no way forward.

But when you look at the state of things, this kind of total critique appears to be more realistic. What surrealism could ever do justice to the fact that we live in a world where the top "26 billionaires own as much as the poorest 3.8 Billion"? This is beyond obscene. And in the face of such bizarre, other-worldy, almost super-sensible horror facts, a film that does not present a total critique is the one that is strange or unreal.

What is truly out-of-this-world is what most people take for granted. We daily live under the extreme pressure of wealth that is, for the most part, fictitious. What's permitted to inflate without end are financial assets, but other things, such as the price of goods or wages, are forced to be stable. If a total critique of this situation appears to you to be strange or surreal, then I advise you look at things or the film Sorry to Bother You while standing on your head.