Sorry to Bother You is a science fiction comedy and the brainchild of Boots Riley. Written and directed by the rapper turned screenwriter and director, the film is a reflection of an American past, and also a satirical depiction of similar phenomenons we experience today, like capitalism, racism, and the need to play a role to get ahead in life. The setting may be in the 70s, but like most things, the more they change, the more they stay the same.
Lakeith Stanfield (Get Out, Atlanta) plays Cassius "Cash" Green, a down-on-his-luck brotha that eventually lands a telemarketing job and finds that the fastest way to success is to put on his "white voice"--raise your hand if you have one of those. Cassius takes the job to impress his girlfriend Detroit, played by Tessa Thompson (Dear White People, Creed). If you seen any of the trailers, you know it's definitely going to be funny af. Recently, the stars of Sorry To Bother You sat down exclusively with TheYBF to talk about the film, what they want fans to take away from the satirical comedy, and their own perceptions of the pitfalls of social media.
Stanfield says that he hopes viewers come into the theaters open-minded and find their own ways to relate to and understand the underlying message: the way to growth is through failure. Stanfield said:
"My hope is that people come to the story with an open mind and are able to receive and retain whatever they feel personally...I can say what I took from Cassius, just reinstating the idea to remain steadfast and tenacious in your pursuit of not only higher and better things for yourself, but also a sense of self and identity in the world. And just be willing to fail so you can grow. So I hope people can see the parallels between those things."
Everyone has social media nowadays, and while we all have our own relationships with our social feeds, many of us are feeling the harmful effects of the forever churning news cycle. Thompson tells TheYBF.com that although there are some benefits to social media, the "clickbait culture" is causing a sort of disconnect from the real world.
"In terms of dehumanization, social media is incredible for being able to disseminate information and create community, but I think we also get into a space where we're bombarded with images and we feel disconnected from the fact that they are happening [in actual] in this clickbait culture."
From police brutality, overt racism and gruesome violence, to the heart-wrenching realities of everyday people in America and around the world, some of us are becoming desensitized while others are experiencing real symptoms of PTSD. A recent study revealed that "Black Americans' mental health suffers from recurring exposure to police killings of unarmed black men and women."
There are also other costs associated with this continuous overexposure. According to Stanfield, we are adapting to these and other images at a rapid pace:
"I think if you show people images enough, human beings become comfortable with things after a while and we adapt...We've always had to adapt but now there's less censorship."
This adaptation is like a double-edged sword. On one hand, with a carefully curated timeline, the images and messages you scroll through can have a measurably positive impact on your mental and spiritual health. On the other edge, it's almost impossible to escape the increasingly violent and disheartening news cycle that shows, oftentimes in graphic detail, the very real world we live in.
The internet is a place where you can literally be whoever you want to be and say almost anything without any real consequences. Stanfield himself has been the subject of his own post-and-delete moment that caused him to feel the wrath of those who felt he was being homophobic and insensitive, he now realizes that adaptation hasn't made people any less sensitive. He also advises that we all should put the phone down more.
"But, the internet is also a place where you can be insensitive and that's OK because you're removed from the experience. So you can say and feel and do things that you wouldn't do in real life. So in a sense, it feels like people are becoming less sensitive but I don't think that's the case. People are more sensitive, but now we just have these avenues that we can explore and safely not have to come into contact with these things. So, I say spend less time on the internet everyday and get back on the ground."
Sorry to Bother You hits theater in limited release today, July 6 and nationwide on July 13.
*Featured image by Tinseltown / Shutterstock.com