Sorry to Bother You: A Funny and Wild Descent into the World of Greed, Corruption and Capitalism

Contrasting the common wide theatrical releases of Hollywood films, Riley’s feature length directorial debut Sorry to Bother You opened with a quiet, limited release early last month.  Although the box office numbers aren’t flowing to a big studio name, you truly haven’t entered Riley’s black comedy critique of capitalism until you’ve spent a little more money on gas traveling to an unfamiliar AMC or an independent theater, payed 10 bucks for your ticket, spent another twenty on snacks, and sat through around seven trailers which all intend to persuade you to repeat the whole process again next weekend.

After all that, you may temporarily relinquish your chaotic role as a consumer and find  a version of yourself in the film’s financially struggling protagonist, Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield). Although employed at the sketchy telemarketing company RegalView, Cassius remains optimistic that he may one day be promoted to a “Power Caller”. At first his drive proves to be ineffective after several people aren’t persuaded by his marketing skills until he finds the key to their pockets and hence his own successes,  the “white voice”.

While placed at the forefront of the film, the funny, over exaggerated interpretation of a stereotypical white suburban male is probably the film’s most overlooked component. What Cassius masters isn’t the voice of the average sounding white man but more specifically he masters the ability to easily manipulate people for money.

Danny Glover’s character, Langston, tells Cassius that it’s the voice that people think you should sound like not only because it’s typically viewed as correct, articulate and professional but because its ubiquitousness has, unknowingly, conditioned people to believe its the voice of reason and trust. The “white voice” may be something else entirely disassociated with race and could possibly represent the voice of consumer culture persuading the masses to pursue a voluptuous lifestyle, wealth, needless possessions and avaricious behavior.   

What the  “white voice” truly may be, therefore, is a representation of the active force of capitalism persuading people to needlessly consume and pursue ever increasing possessions.

t_1521162444325_name_la_et_mn_sorry_to_bother_you_trailer

Cassius, having been at the lowest of economic standings, is easily coaxed by the power and money accompanied with his swift corporate ascension. He no longer stands in solidarity with his heavily exploited,  unionized co-workers after getting an unhealthy taste of glory and material wealth. Cassius fully loses himself, his morals, and his loved ones who can no longer stand the sight of his new businessman identity. During his corporate run, Cassius comes across as extremely selfish and inconsiderate to viewers, but he’s simply reacting to the rapacious nature of capitalism. As Cassius coldly says to one of his protesting friends whose disheartened by his siding with the corporate body,  “I’ve got to pay my bills somehow.”

Interestingly, Cassius’ entire character journey, despite becoming increasingly outlandish throughout the film’s duration, is an accurate reflection of the average American. Like Cassius, many of us practically remain fixed to our economic standings regardless of how hard we work. We are all expected to pay a ridiculous amount of bills and support our loved ones. At times, accomplishing both becomes almost impossible to do without being a little selfish with an often less than adequate salary. “White voices”, or capitalists more specifically, embed themselves within commercials and  various types of media constantly advocating for the acquisition of needless possessions. Unknowingly, we fall victim and conform to our society’s acquisitive climate just as Cassius does. Perhaps the only aspect of Cassius’ experiences absent within our’s is his ultimate realization of these forces actively corrupting him.

sorry-bother-red-band-poster-main2Cassius, having been at the lowest of economic standings, is easily coaxed by the power and money accompanied with his swift corporate ascension. He no longer stands in solidarity with his heavily exploited,  unionized co-workers after getting an unhealthy taste of glory and material wealth. Cassius fully loses himself, his morals, and his loved ones who can no longer stand the sight of his new businessman identity. During his corporate run, he comes across as extremely selfish and inconsiderate to viewers, but he’s simply reacting to the rapacious nature of his profit-driven environment. As Cassius coldly says to one of his protesting friends whose disheartened by his siding with the corporate body,  “I’ve got to pay my bills somehow.”

Interestingly, Cassius’ entire character journey, despite becoming increasingly outlandish throughout the film’s duration, is an accurate reflection of the average American. Like him, many of us practically remain fixed to our economic standings regardless of how hard we work. We are all expected to pay a ridiculous amount of bills and support our loved ones. At times, accomplishing both becomes almost impossible to do without being a little selfish with an often less than adequate salary. The “White voices”, or capitalists, of our world find themselves within commercials and  various types of media constantly advocating for the acquisition of needless possessions. Unknowingly, we fall victim and conform to our society’s acquisitive climate just as Cassius does. Perhaps the only aspect of Cassius’ experiences absent within our’s is his ultimate realization of these forces actively corrupting him.

Advertisements

One thought on “Sorry to Bother You: A Funny and Wild Descent into the World of Greed, Corruption and Capitalism

  1. I saw this movie and the only thing I was certain of after the credit started to roll was that I’d never seen anything quite like it. I was certainly thinking and talking about it for sometime though. I have to say though, this was – by far – the best thing I’ve read about the film. I love your analysis of the “white voice” and how it embodies and ties to the larger anti-capitalist message. If I was to ever be in a situation where I’d teach this film (which I can’t imagine, teaching at a high school 🙂 ) I’d use this as required reading.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s