LATE TO THE PARTY: “SORRY TO BOTHER YOU”
Due to my paternity leave, I’ve had some time to catch up on films I missed out on. While some of these films were within the past year (2018) others might have even been older. But that’s what makes pop culture great; the fact that I can see a film way after its premiere and still have someone to discuss it with. So what film have I picked up this time? Well I’m Sorry to Bother You.
Sorry to Bother You premiered nationally on July 6th; I didn’t see it until November. The trailer did indeed have me hooked, but the casting of Lakeith Stanfield (Cassius “Cash Green), Danny Glover, Terry Crews (Cash’s uncle), Tessa Thompson (Detroit) and Steven Yeun (Squeeze) sold me on seeing the film. The cast is so crammed full of stars, you wouldn’t even guess that this film was Boots Riley’s script-writing and directorial debut. Stanfield plays off the real-life experiences Riley faced as a telemarketer, complete with “white voice”. While most of us haven’t experienced the need to use “white voice” or face a national corporate/moral dilemma, the film’s critiques of capitalism and some racism create scenarios in the film we can all relate to.
Cash represents every worker dissatisfied with their jobs and even a portion of viewers who only work in their fields for the money. With one character, Stanfield represents two demographics. Detroit is the rebel who despite working the same initial telemarketing job as everyone else, strives to define herself outside of her job. If it were up to her, she wouldn’t even work in the first place. Armie Hammer’s (he’s in the film too) Steve Lift is the epitome of new era CEO’s; those who claim to benefit their employees despite overworking them without a second thought. CEO’s who claim that the employees are taken care of and the company acts as a family on the surface to hide any atrocities the company commits.
Other than the political and societal jabs made by the film, Sorry to Bother You does address the simple premise of loyalty among friends and co-workers. When Cash gets promoted at everyone’s telemarketing company (RegalView), Squeeze tries to talk him into being an inside man for the newly formed union. The standoff is literally seen in the film as the “power callers” (promoted telemarketers) need police escorts to cross the picket line formed by the entry level callers (of which Squeeze and Detroit are a part of). For majority of the film, Cash returns to work as a power caller solely for the purpose of his salary. A move that costs him his relationship with Detroit, but also allows him to move into his own apartment and pay off his uncle’s debt.
I honestly don’t want to give off much of the film because it’s a mindfuck to watch. The film relishes in using suggestive and explicit imagery to explain the exploits of racism and capitalism. While the basic drama of the film revolves around Cash’s decision to continue working against Squeeze and Detroit’s wishes, the imagery involved creates a snowball effect that transforms a minor conflict into something that could end the world. And with the film’s suggestive imagery, Cash’s moral dilemma indeed does grow to world-altering proportions when he meets his boss Lift.
There’s no need to apologize for making me watch this film. Go ahead and see it now! A+