“Sorry To Bother You” is a dystopian film perfect for those looking for a dark and clever piece that effortlessly explores the nuances of capitalism and race in America.
The film, by Boots Riley, centers around the lead Cassius Green (Cash), played by Lakeith Stanfield, as he rises through the ranks of a telemarketing firm. The rise coincides with his ability to present himself to clients as a white man through his use of the white voice.
The White Voice
The white voice is correlated with success. It is explained in the film as not actually being a thing (even amongst white people). It’s said to be an inspiration as it embodies a carefreeness that the non white voice does not typically experience. The ability to present the white voice, and with it a feeling of prosperity, is enough to win over customers.
The white voice is especially jarring when juxtaposed with Cassius’s life when he does not use his white voice. He struggles tremendously financially however as his use of his white voice continues we see that his quality of life also increases. He moves from his uncle’s (played by Terry Crews) garage to an upscale apartment, better suits, and a brand new car.
As the film progresses Cash continues his rise to the top of the company. His rise puts him in direct conflict with his friends in the company as they attempt to unionize to earn better rights. One of the other things that declines is his relationship with Detroit (played by Tessa Thompson). Although Detroit also enjoys much of his success, she continuously asks him to not use the voice around her.
Cassius Meets WorryFree
Simultaneously we continue to hear about a company, WorryFree, that is offering people a lifetime work contract coupled with free lodging and food. Cash’s quick rise to the top allows him to see behind the curtains of the company.
The founder, Steve Lift, is set on bringing Cash on board to sell destructive and immoral things to people across the globe. Cash eventually sees the gross intent of Steve and WorryFree which eventually leads to him finally choosing to do the right thing instead of opting to ignore immorality in order to make more money.
Cash’s attempt to warn the country of Steve’s gross use of the people who signs contrast is met with indifference and disbelief. IT is only after he is both physically assaulted and literally dives into shit that his message is heard and received.
Cash essentially has to become superhuman or more than human in order to really strike a blow to the dark and twisted WorryFree company. The irony in the company’s name is not lost and is a stark reminder that some of the things presented as better alternatives are often hiding more sinister ambitions.
‘Sorry To Bother You’ Correlation with Corporate America
“Sorry To Bother You” is especially impactful as it was released shortly before Amazon’s Jeff Bezos was just names the richest man in modern history at a whopping $150 billion dollar net worth. Amazon employees however have been striking and boycotting for better wages and working conditions.
“Sorry To Bother You” does a great job of using symbolism to address moral dilemmas that come with climbing the ranks in corporate America especially as a poor person of color. It does this all while being thoroughly entertaining, engaging, and still making impactful commentary on potential direction of America’s capitalistic society. It is a must see film that you should catch before it’s out of theaters.