"Bizarre Doesn’t Begin to Explain This Political Satire"
What You Need To Know:
SORRY TO BOTHER YOU is reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick’s critique of society and government in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. This movie’s primary target is capitalism. Most satirical movies rely heavily on false equivalencies to get their point across. SORRY TO BOTHER YOU takes the ridiculousness of its world to such extremes that many of its social comparisons get lost. Aside from its pagan, anti-capitalist, politically correct worldview, SORRY TO BOTHER YOU has constant foul language and lewd content.
SORRY TO BOTHER YOU is a science-fiction satire set in an alternate version of Oakland, but set in modern times. Most of the community lives in poverty, which has led a company called WorryFree to offer free food and lodging to anyone who signs a lifelong contract to work for the company. However, many people compare the contract to slavery.
Cassius, also known as Cash, is desperate for a job so that he and his girlfriend, Detroit, won’t get kicked out of his uncle’s garage. He finally gets one at a telemarketing company, but the job is hard for Cash, who’s African-American. Every single call he makes almost always results in being hung up. One of his co-workers, an older black man played by Danny Glover, leans over and suggests Cash use his inner “white voice” to make sales calls. The old man immediately starts speaking in a very different voice (it’s actually the voice of actor David Cross).
Cash takes this suggestion and finds his inner “white voice.” He quickly starts making sales using this method. If he does well enough, he may be promoted out of the depressing caller room and move upstairs to the Power Callers, who do sales for major companies like WorryFree.
At the same time, Cash befriends some of his other co-workers, who are sick and tired of their working conditions. One of the friends, Squeeze, is organizing a strike against the company with the hopes of forming a union. Cash is now one of the company’s top sales people, thanks to his new white voice, so if he joined the movement for better wages, it could help. However, the manager announces that Cash is to be promoted to a Power Caller upstairs where he’ll start making the big money.
As Cash starts making loads of money, his friends think he’s sold out. Even his girlfriend, Detroit, grows tired of how Cash has changed. Sometimes, Cash forgets he’s even using his white voice when talking to her. When Cash is invited to a party hosted by the CEO of WorryFree, Steve Lift (Armie Hammer), he finds out that the company is actually genetically engineering the employees into a horse-human hybrids called equisapiens to make them more strong and useful as factory workers. The company offers Cash $100 million to become an equisapien for five years so he can gain the workers’ trust and keep them from revolting. At this point, Cash is too weirded out by the whole thing and wants to stop WorryFree from this immoral monstrosity.
SORRY TO BOTHER YOU is a bizarre story with Kubrick-esque moments that are reminiscent of A CLOCKWORK ORANGE’s critique of society and government. This movie’s primary target is capitalist systems, to which the filmmakers apparently attribute many social problems. As Cash succeeds at sales, leaving behind his struggling co-workers, he’s chastised and treated as a sellout. In a sense, he does lose some of his moral center as he pursues greatness in the corporate world, but he’s forced into this position since Squeeze has everyone believing that either everyone succeeds equally, or no one succeeds at all.
There’s also a hint that all of Cash’s success, and the success of all the black men in the movie is merely because it was given to them by white men. The implication, while not explicitly stated, is that capitalism is an institution of white privilege and manipulation. This representation, however, is incredibly insulting and is an offense to all ethnic-minority entrepreneurs who’ve improved their lives greatly due to their own capitalist ventures, or who have benefited from the free market ventures of others. A free society always means there’s opportunity for social injustice, which is why a free market only truly thrives when its accompanied by Christian, biblical faith and values.
Many, if not most, satirical movies rely heavily on false equivalencies to get their points across. It’s also not uncommon for filmmakers of satirical movies to exaggerate situations and problems from the real world. For example, in Charlie Chaplin’s hilarious satire of the modern technological age, MODERN TIMES, the silly repetitive motions of his factory job literally drive Charlie’s character crazy.
However, SORRY TO BOTHER YOU takes the ridiculousness of its world to such extremes that many of its social comparisons are sure to get lost on regular moviegoers. This is probably for the best since the movie has such an anti-capitalist, politically correct message.
Admittedly, SORRY TO BOTH YOU is sometimes funny and has a strong cast. Also, at certain points, it even seems to acknowledge its own pretentious tone or attitude, but it then just keeps heightening that tone beyond all reasonable measure. Aside from its immoral, anti-capitalist, politically correct worldview, SORRY TO BOTHER YOU has abundant foul language, drug use, and depicted sex scenes that also make it abhorrent.