Leshu Torchin uses Sorry to Bother You, Boots Riley's genre-defying take on race, slavery, and capitalism in 21st century America, as a launching pad for a broader discussion of what she terms the “economic rights” film. Often global in scope, these films argue for rights to sustenance, shelter, education, health, and labor while mapping out the myriad systems that impede access to these rights. Torchin suggests that Sorry's playful hybridity, combining science fiction, performance art, and even corporate-video mockumentary to invoke recent experimentations in black American media, belies a preoccupation around labor that positions the film within the “economic rights” film's robust legacy.
Alienated Labor's Hybrid Subjects: Sorry to Bother You and the Tradition of the Economic Rights Film
Leshu Torchin is Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of St Andrews. The author of Creating the Witness: Documenting Genocide on Film, Video, and the Internet (University of Minnesota Press, 2012), her research centers on documentary, film cultures, and activism. As advocate for public understanding of the documentary, she established the DocSalon at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2017 and contributes to The Conversation. She is currently working on economic rights cinema and on contemporary women's health documentaries.
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Leshu Torchin; Alienated Labor's Hybrid Subjects: Sorry to Bother You and the Tradition of the Economic Rights Film. Film Quarterly 1 June 2019; 72 (4): 29–37. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fq.2019.72.4.29
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