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November 10, 2022 87 mins

This week, Caitlin, Jamie, and special guest Sam Sanders stick to the script while discussing Sorry to Bother You.

(This episode contains spoilers)

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Hi listeners. Quick note about this episode. About thirty four
ish minutes in, there were some technical issues and we
had to use some backup audio for a brief moment.
So if some of the audio sounds a bit different
for a short time, that's why. Otherwise enjoyed the episode.
On the beck dodcast, the questions asked if movies have

(00:23):
women in um, are all their discussions just boyfriends and
husbands or do they have individualism? The patriarchy zef invest
start changing it with the beck Del cast. Hey, Jamie,
Hey Caitlin, sorry to bother you, but would you like
to record a podcast with me today? Right now? No,

(00:45):
I have I'm stage four, I can't. I can't record
a podcast today. Please click click, oh no, and then
a whole lot more movie. Hi, Welcome to the I
think that went well. I think are perfect. The thing
about our intros is that we're always giving it about

(01:07):
It's not my best effort most of the time. Well,
I that wasn't a personal attack. Mine are operating on
a lower level, I would say. I usually just say
the name of the movie and then we start. Look,
look we're off to a start. Welcome to the Bechtel Cast.
My name is Jamie Loftus. My name is Caitlin Durante,
And this is our show where we analyze movies through

(01:29):
an intersectional feminist lens, using the Bechtel Test simply as
a jumping off point, just trying to get a conversation going. Yes,
do we regret naming it this after all these years? Yeah? Yeah,
but it's unfortunately too late. Okay today today, I'm so excited,

(01:49):
uh for the movie we're covering today. A popular request
since it came out? Should we say what the Bechtel
test is though? First? Or do we not want to
do that? I guess let's do it? Can I do it? Please? So?
The Bechdel Test is a media metric created by queer
cartoonist Alison Bechdel, sometimes called the Bechdel Wallace Test. A

(02:11):
lot of versions of the test. The one we use
requires that two characters of a marginalized gender with names
speak to each other about something other than a man
for two lines of dialogue. Surprisingly relevant to this movie.
But it's our jumping off point for discussion. And what
is this movie, Jamie? Today's movie We've been getting requests

(02:33):
for basically since it came out four years ago. We're
super excited to finally be covering it. It's Sorry to
Bother You, Boots Riley, and we have an incredible guest
to discuss this movie with. Let's get him in the mix.
We really do. He is the host of two weekly podcasts,
Into It from Vulture and Vibe Check from Stitcher. It's

(02:55):
Sam Sanders. Hi, thank you all for having me. I'm
so happy to be Hereanks for coming. Yeah, Yeah, it's
gonna be fun. I can tell so much fun. We're fun.
We're fun, fun, so fun. Sam. What is your relationship
with the movie Sorry to Bother You? You know, it's interesting.

(03:18):
So I remember when that movie came out. There was
so much buzz about how you needed to watch it
because it's his commentary on late stage capitalism, and yes,
do it. And I watched it and I remembered it,
and then I want to say, who's the director of
this film, Boots Riley? Was it him? Yes? So then

(03:39):
I was also enamored by the anti Oscars campaign he led.
You know, he was shortlisted. There was talk of him
getting some Oscars for this film. Critics loved it, like
Keith Stanfield was great in it, and then he doesn't
get nominations, and he says, I didn't get any for
this film because I didn't chase it. I don't play
that game and I don't like that. And I like

(03:59):
that as well. And then later when he was doing
press for some other piece of work he was doing,
I got to interview like Keith Stanfield a few years ago,
so I loved him because of that. So in general,
every time I think of this movie and my experience
with it and the actors in the plot and the
dialogue around it, I liked it. But then I rewatched

(04:21):
it two nights ago through the Bechtel lens and things changed.
Thanks changing. Yeah, that tends to happen with this Yeah,
And there was like a fair amount of I had
to like launch myself backwards in time and remember like
there was that was sort of discussed when the movie

(04:41):
came out, but it wasn't uh main topic of discussion,
which is totally understandable. But yeah, watching this movie with
Bechtel goggles on it changes everything. It does change things. Jamie,
what about you? What's your relationship? I saw this movie
shortly after it came out, and I really really loved it.

(05:02):
When it came out, I feel like it's just like,
I just love the how this movie looks too, Like
every performance is amazing, it's beautiful. I feel like it's
a peak bisexual lighting culture kind of yeah, yeah, yeah,
which we love. I I love it. I'm clinging to it.
But I feel like eighteen is where it was like

(05:24):
peak bisexual lighting. Um, that's how you knew something was
about to happen. Um. Yeah, I loved I really loved
this movie when it came out. Um. I feel like
it's one of the better, more fun to watch leftist movies,
right up there with Chicken Run. Does a top Chicken Run.
Let's not pit them against each other, the idea of

(05:45):
Chicken Run as a leftist film. Now that you say it,
so you have to watch Chicken Run with leftist goggles.
It's so much it's even better. I'm going to do that.
I tell you what I'm going to do that. It's
the fast. But yeah, this this is like one of
my favorite movies at the time. I still really really
like it. Um. And I also think for our purposes,

(06:06):
there's uh, there's some stuff to discuss that I think
I noticed at the time but was very willing to
overlook because there's so many elements of this movie that
I love, So there's a lot to talk about. And also,
I think if nothing else, like, I was not super
familiar with Boots Riley as a cultural figure prior to
this movie coming out, and I'm very happy I know

(06:28):
about him now because he's like he was like raised
by like union organizers. Like he's the fucking coolest. I'm
excited to talk about it. Yeah, Caitlin, what's your history
with this movie? I saw this movie in theaters during
I believe the movie past days that would have been
to my movie Pass towards the end, Yeah, I believe

(06:48):
so movie Pass hashtag never forget and it's coming. It's
coming back. Wait at the same like in the same way.
It's different. There's a limit, okay, because that's how money works.
They forgot that the first time, and I loved that.

(07:09):
When you think about it, movie Pass was kind of
it was like for the people, you know, it was
an indictment of capitalists. It was like pay ten dollars
and get thirty movies a month. I don't know much
about the business side of what happened there. It was
it like for the people or was it just someone
was like bad at being a capitalist. I think someone

(07:30):
had a really bad business plan and was banking on
the fact that like people similar to how yeah, like
you know, you like join a gym and you pay
a gym membership and they're like, oops, I've been paying
this for six months and never went to the gym.
I think people were banking on like the difference going
to the gym is hard, going to the movies is
not exactly. I will buy a gym membership, say I

(07:54):
want to go and then not. But if I buy
a movie pass that just lets me go to movies,
always going to choose to just go to a fucking movie, right,
come on, you know what I'm saying. I feel like
there was kind of this golden age of seen and
then whenever in it got cut off, where so many
people have seen every movie just because it was possible.

(08:17):
I saw so many movies that I would definitely not
have like paid ten dollars even ten I mean, and
that's like using fifteen years ago prices. I saw thirteen
times on movie pass. Look wait, stop what really? Yes,
it's the sickest thing about me. Margaret Robbie was great
in that role. She wasn't that great? Look, Sam, You've

(08:39):
never been me at my absolute lowest times at the
low s Fields three. My current it, Tania is Dune.
I put it on at night on the couch as
a screen saver while I look at zello listings. It's
really pretty and you can just constantly look at it

(08:59):
because it's really pretty. You don't care about the plot
at all. I mean I don't. I couldn't even sit
through it. I just have it on as a screensaver.
It's it's a screensaver. It's really good when you're on
a second screen or when you're stoned. Wait, excuse me,
this is an anti drug podcast. You can't be talking
about getting you whispering. This podcast is brought to you

(09:22):
by dare D a r U. Screensaver movie is such
a perfect description. That's like that is a whole genre,
but I've never heard it describe. And I love them all.
I love them all. Okay, every Boss Lerman movie, screensaver
movie anyways, going oh okay, I would, I mean some

(09:43):
of them are also good, but like in terms of
screensaver movie, thesa just be so visual and beautiful that
you can enjoy it with the volume of to me,
boss Lerman movies are too chaotic to be screensavers. I
feel like you need like a soothing slow just like
not really much happening. Okay, I hear that, although I
would watch Romeo plus Juliet on mute. Yeah, it's beautiful.

(10:07):
It might actually be more palatable that way. Some might say, Yes,
some Buzzlerman works could be better unused. That's how I've
been doing the new Lord of the Rings series because
I know it's pretty. I know that like Lord of
the Rings is never I don't know why it's never
gonna quite connect for me, but I don't. I'm not
mad at it. I like having it around, but I
also like pressure not to not watch it. Yeah, I

(10:28):
just marvel at the discourse because I'm like, I truly
do not care. Like a few friends of mine, we're
trying to get me into the like black Hobbit discourse
last week, and I was like, I don't give a
I don't so anyway. Sorry to bother you, Yes, yes,
sorry about that. Sorry to bother with all that? Oh no, no, no,

(10:52):
not at all. I mean I feel like also, our
episodes tend to like the tone of our episodes tend
to match the tone of whatever movie we're talking about.
And this is a very chaotic movie, so chaotic episode,
so good good, Yeah, of course. Um. So I saw
Sorry to Bother You in theaters. I didn't know much
about it except that so like the marketing of the

(11:14):
movie was like, Oh, it's about this black character who
code switches to perform better at his telemarketing job. That
was kind of the only thing I knew about it.
I didn't know it was a whole indictment of late
stage capitalism, like I and so I went into it
kind of unprepared for all the stuff that this movie accomplishes. Um,
and I thought it was really cool. Thought, yeah, just like, visually, narratively, thematically,

(11:40):
a lot of cool stuff happening. L Keith Stanfield is
in my top five celebrity crushes. Also, he's also a
really nice guy, is he all? I'm so glad to
hear that. Well, if he's listening to this and love you.
I interviewed him years ago and just so humble, so
down to earth. At one point he was in the

(12:02):
interview booth drinking this like charcoal, lemonade, cleans, pure and
juice or whatever. Finally, I was like, what the funk
is up with your charcoal lemonade? And then he gave
me a sip and it was, Oh, he gave you
a sip online. I love that. What a generous man.
He's great. Love you, la Keith. Anyhow, as you work
ahead the things I would sit from m Keith Stanfeld,

(12:27):
That's what I'm saying. What I'm saying, second, an erotic,
thrilling experience. So it was. It was an enjoyable watch,
but I hadn't revisited it post seeing it for the
first time until prepping for this episode, and I'm very

(12:47):
excited to discuss Yeah, so shall we get into it.
I think this is the first movie we've covered in
a while where the Bechtel test is actually a relevant
point of discussion, and it's like, it's, uh, well, we'll
get to the reasons why. But it was like a
discussion at the time, and I have so many thoughts. Okay, yeah,

(13:08):
but first we need to find out what happens in
the damn movie. Let's do that. But even before that,
let's take a quick break and then we'll come back
and we're back. Quick question before we start the recap, Yes,
do those ear rings hurt to wear. Do you think

(13:31):
they seem very heavy? I would say very heavy possibly, yes.
Oh the ear rings that Tessa wears in the movie, yes, yeah,
it was a lot. The first time I saw her
were the ear rings. It was cute. But by the
end of the movie, because they keep changing them out,
I'm just like, spare her lobes. For her lobes because
you I'm sure it was like multiple takes for every scene.

(13:52):
You know for sure, like they yeah, she has to
get there should be some sort of rule on like
lobe distress. I was concerned for her lobes. I just
am rooting for Tessa Thompson to not be in any
discomfort in her entire life. Same same, I would second
that motion. Yeah. Okay. So the plot of Sorry to

(14:15):
Bother You goes as follows. We meet Cassius Green. He
goes by cash often. That's like Keith Stanfields, not a
metaphor for something green cash Okay, interesting coma cash, I'm
thinking already. We meet him in a job interview, and
despite having lied on his resume and bringing several trophies

(14:37):
to the interview, he gets a job as a telemarketer
at a company called regal view, where he will be
expected to call as many people as possible and stick
to the script. Then we see Cash is at home.
He lives in Oakland with his partner, Detroit, played by

(14:58):
Tessa Thompson. She's an artist. Cash expresses concerns that he'll
die and nothing he did in life will matter. They
then see a commercial for Worry Free, which is like
a work initiative where employees are guaranteed lifelong work. They
are given a place to live, they are provided with meals,

(15:21):
and Cash is like, hmm, this is something to think about,
especially because he's broke. He drives a shitty car. He
owes four months rent to his uncle Surge, who was
played by Terry Crews. Yeah, it's kind of the Amazon factory,
like on steroids. And you noted, Caitlin. I don't think
I noticed this the first time I watched, but it,

(15:43):
you know, summer. The people at work Free are addressed
like the minions. Yes, had to have been on purpose.
The minions were, I mean huge, his boots, Riley a
million's head also sidebar. The minions have been big enough
for like close to a decade. That's crazy. They were
like the most beloved actors of our generation Minions acting

(16:06):
geniuses literally agree literally did you see the newest Minions movie?
And then I'll stop my promise. We both did. The
funeral scene were singing, My god, I have not laughed
that much since soul playing, so it's so funny. I

(16:27):
was blown away by how much I was laughing. The
plane scene also got me so good. A plane scene Peanuts,
I love it, I love it. There are students Kevin
Stewart and Bob but I did think, I mean, millions
have been around since, so wow, I feel like Boots

(16:48):
Riley like that was probably an intentional stylistic choice, right,
because because the Worry Free Workers, they're wearing like blue overalls,
I think a yellow shirt under that, and then like
yellow caps almost like a swimming cap kind of thing
that just make them look like minions. Kevin vibes such
a time Ken for sure, because we talked about this

(17:09):
on our Despicable episode, because we covered Despicable me. What's
the union situation with the Minions? It changes all the time.
In some movies they're paid, In other movies, they don't
appear to be paid. They have money because they contribute
to Gruze Go fund me to steal the moon. So
it's a little complicated. We're not sure Boots Riley is

(17:32):
thinking about it harder than um, the writer of Minions movies.
Although wait, okay, one last sidebar. We we talked about
maybe we mentioned this. I don't know if I knew
this the last time we talked about Minions. But Mike
White is writing Despicable Me for interesting, So then it's
going to have a bunch of plot holes like White

(17:52):
Lotus do. I loved White Lotus, but a lot of plots,
but there were quite I was just I mean, I
know Mike White can make a good kids movie. He
wrote school Rock, but I just was like, huh, indeed,
and good for him, you know, so worry free Minions aesthetic. Um,

(18:13):
it's there. It's clear and present. So Cashus arrives for
his first day of work at Regal View. His manager
tells him that if he makes a lot of sales
as a telemarketer, he could become what's called a power caller,
which seems to come with a lot more pay and perks.
So cash starts making calls. He always opens with the

(18:34):
line you know, sorry to bother you h and everyone
hangs up. On him. Then his colleague Langston, played by
Danny Glover of Saw fame, of course, his most famous role.
We can all agree as just say I wrote Danny
Glover parentheses of Saw. No, he wasn't stuff before Saw, Sam,

(18:55):
I don't. I don't think that's true. It's he started
with Saw his brain go role. People are like, now,
this guy, this guy might I mentioned lethal weapon, which
would not at all pass the Bechel test, but feminist masterpiece.
Lethal weapon doesn't hold a candle to feminist masterpiece. Yes, yes, okay.

(19:21):
So Langston tells cash Is to use his quote unquote
white voice while he's making calls, and Cashis is skeptical.
He then goes to a staff meeting where Cape ber
Land is there. Her character is Diana, Diana Debauchery. Such,
all the character names in this movie are incredible, and

(19:41):
she's so good. She gets like three minutes in the film,
but it's a good three minutes. I'm a good it's
a solid three minutes. Yes, So she's kind of giving
a spiel about you know, oh they're a family, and
just like keep making calls and stick to the script.
Mrs girl boss y. We also we've met this character

(20:02):
before but Salvador is. They're played by Jermaine Fowler. Um,
he's cash Is like best friend and also colleague. Also
there is Squeeze played by Steven June, and Squeeze approaches
cash Is after Cashes had asked like can we get
paid more money? Squeeze approaches Cashes and tells him that

(20:24):
some of the staff are trying to unionize. And then
we see a newscast about protests at Worry Free headquarters
because employees there are forced to sign lifelong employment contracts,
which people likened to slavery, especially because they're not paid well,
they their labors exploited, etcetera. However, the CEO of Worry Free,

(20:49):
Steve Lift, played by Army Hammer, denies these claims. Yeah,
Yike's Army Hammer. I will say, it's like we and
we don't need to get into army hammered discourse because
we would be here for five hundred days. Um, this
would be our five days of summer. Army Hammer like

(21:14):
notorious abuser, and this is I feel like the only
kind of role that I feel like I can still
watch him in. It's like you you can't watch an
Army Hammer movie. Even prior to any thing becoming publicly
available where you're supposed to empathize with him. This is
the least empathetic character in the movie at very least
still not still not doesn't feel good to see him,

(21:36):
but yes, because he plays like the worst person. Yeah,
the worst person, and I mean in the world. Yeah,
at least uh yeah, a little easier to stomach. Um.
So Cash starts using his quote unquote white voice, which
is voiced by David Cross. I didn't know that. Yeah, okay,

(21:58):
I like David Cross. That's a good like fun, that's
a good one guy. The famous people who signed out
to do the white voices of black characters with David Cross.
And then it's Lily James for Detroit and Patton Oswaltz
for for Mr b Mr Mr Mr Beep. Yeah okay.

(22:21):
So Cash starts using his white voice at work and
starts to make a lot of sales and it seems
like he's well on his way to becoming a power caller.
And meanwhile, Squeeze Salvador and others at Regal View are
organizing and trying to unionize and planning a strike. Then
it's the day that the Regal View callers um Squeeze

(22:45):
Salvador Langston Detroit who works there now as well as
Cash and everyone else. They go on strike. But this
is also the day that the managers at Regal View
promote Cash and make him a power call, which he
cautiously accepts. So then he goes up the private power

(23:06):
caller elevator and meets his new boss, Mr Beep and
played by in the voice in the Power Caller Elevator
is Rosario Dawson. I learned today, same same Mr Beep
is played by Omari Hardwick and voiced by Patton Oswald.
As we said, um, he tells Cash that Worry Free

(23:28):
is their biggest client. Basically, they sell cheap slash slave
labor to ceo s so that corporations can make bigger profits.
And Cash is conflicted because he wants to be a
part of his colleagues movement, but he's also trying to
escape poverty and he's trying to help out his uncle's
serge who's about to lose his house. So he's conflicted.

(23:52):
And on his first day as a power caller, Cash
makes the company a ton of money and then he
starts to earn a lot more money. He's able to
help out his uncle. He moves into a nicer place,
really h g TV kind of sterile looking apartment, and
Detroit is like, hey, dude, you abandoned your friends, You've

(24:13):
sold out. The work you're doing is morally bankrupt. And
he's like, well, I'm good at this job and you're
reaping the benefits of the money i'm making. Uh. And
then she's like, well, if you go to work today
and cross that picket line, we're through, which he does.
He goes to work, a protester throws a can of

(24:34):
soda at his head, which becomes a meme and like
kind of makes him Internet famous. It's like the have
a Coola and smile bitch meme I had. Yeah, I
had to also checked. I was like, this was intended
as a reverse Kendall Jenner, and um boot Riley is
confirmed it was intended as a reverse Kendall Jenner. Okay,

(24:54):
I didn't make that connection, but yeah, that makes sense.
Kendall Jenner Pepsi fiasco of twenty seventeen. I think it
was um So. One night, Cash goes to Detroit's art show,
which has very anti capitalist themes, and she is still
upset with Cash and he leaves and goes to worry

(25:16):
Free CEO Steve Lifts annual party at his house question Mark.
Steve Lift is very impressed by Cash and all the
big sales he has made. Then Cash goes to the
bathroom and finds himself in a room full of human
slash horse hybrid people equa sapiens. Basically, they have human

(25:39):
bodies and the heads of horses. Cash is absolutely freaking out.
He's like, what is going on? Steve explains Slash shows
a video to Cash that worry Free scientists have been
turning humans into these horse people to make them stronger,
more obedient, and more productive workers. And Steve wants Cash

(26:01):
to become one of these Equi sapiens and work at
worry Free for five years, managing the other horse people
but pretending to be there. As Steve Lift puts it,
Equi Sapien Martin Luther King Jr. And in return, Steve
Lift is going to give Cash one hundred million dollars.

(26:24):
Smiley face, smile face, and I promise that after five
years he'll turn him back from being a horse person.
It's right, like that was one of the I mean.
And we'll get way more into this during the discussion,
but like, I liked that that detail was constantly thrown
in to like put Cash at ease, and it kind
of like triggered different things in me of like different

(26:46):
discussions you have when you're starting a job that you're
like not totally comfortable with it with They're like, well,
you're not bad, You're just it's just it's temporary, and
then you can go back to being like who you
are right now. When here's the thing that we know
from that movie from life. Some changes cannot be temporary.
Some changes permanent, right and there's like some ship you

(27:08):
do that can't be undone. It's like it'sh man, Yeah,
I wish I could see this movie for the first
time again because I didn't see well, we're getting to
it in a second, but the the ending it doesn't
feel good, but it does feel accurate. So despite the
huge offer of money, Cash is like, I don't want

(27:28):
any part of this and he runs out. He's still
freaking out. He can't find his phone. He also thinks
that the coke he snorted at Steve's party might actually
be the like catalyst that turns you into a horse
person horse dust, so he goes to Detroit for help,

(27:49):
and turns out the Equi Sapiens have Cash's phone and
they had sent Detroit a video of them being like,
please help us, weren't so much pain, And then you
see Steve Lift come in and threatened to turn them
into glue. So Cash then uses his fame as the
Kola and Smile bitch guy to go on TV and

(28:13):
expose how worry Free is making these horse people, but
instead of it having negative consequences for worry Free, their
stock drastically increases and the general public does not seem
to be outraged by anything that's happening. I do like
how like in the space of like two minutes, this

(28:35):
movie does what Don't Look Up was like trying to
do for two hours, and it just like accomplishes it
very seamlessly and quickly because Cash can't even like make
his point before he like is covered in ship on television,
Like they won't even let him get to the point
before he's been completely humiliated, right exactly. So then Cash

(28:56):
contexts Squeeze and Salvador to devise another plan, and they
break in and release the Equi Sapiens, who attack the
cops who have been beating the ship out of the
protesters at Regal View throughout the movie, So basically there's
an equi sapien uprising and then things quiet back down

(29:18):
and Cash has reconciled with Detroit and Salvador and he
intends to go back to Regal View as a telemarketer.
And then the movie ends with Cash starting to turn
into an equi sapien and then we flashed forward to
him breaking into Steve Lift's mansion, presumably to kill him. Done. Done,

(29:41):
That is the movie. Let's take another quick break and
we will come back to discuss and when you're back,
all right, where to begin? Yeah, Sam, is there anything
you you want to kick off with? You know, I

(30:03):
guess like my biggest takeaway and this was my biggest
takeaway after being asked to rewatch the film under the
Bechdel lens. You know. When the film first came out,
I think a lot of folks were saying, there are
several things in this movie's favor It's an Oscar worthy film,
Oscar caliber film with a black cast, made by a

(30:24):
black creator. We love that this is an Oscar worthy,
Oscar caliber film that is a critique of capitalism and
excessive capitalism. We love that, And I feel like those
were the only messages that I took him when I
first saw the film. But as soon as you watch
it with any Bechtel in you do you realize Tessa's

(30:48):
character is a prop. She's a prop the entire movie,
and you never really see her have her own life,
have her own interest, or have anything to say unless
she's in it to Lakeith's character or his friends, or
in one scene, these shitty art collectors who literally throw

(31:09):
sheep's blood on her as she's almost nude. And it's like,
what I wanted the entire film was to see Tessa
Thompson talked to her friends about her life and what
she wanted to talk about, and not have it be
in service to the mission of the main character. And
I suppose this is like the fatal flaw of many films,

(31:34):
but I'm almost mad at myself for not catching it
the first time or two I watched the movie. But
as soon as y'all said watch a Bettel style, I
was like, oh, ship, it's real, it's real. Yeah, it's
this movie is I feel like the spirit of the
Betel test is like pretty relevant to this movie. And

(31:54):
I remember seeing it discussed at the time. Not I
think that it was, you know, overshadowed by the very
deserved praise that this movie received. But yeah, Tessa Thompson's
character is It's so frustrating because it's not like the
opportunity isn't there, and it's not like giving her character
more to do, or even like cutting a different minor

(32:17):
character in order to create the real estate to give
her more to do. It. It's like the character is there.
It just doesn't seem like the interest in exploring the
character was made because she and Cash are under similar circumstances,
but the movie is mainly interested in how Cash deals
with it. I feel like the movie is even a
little more interested in how sal deals with it um

(32:40):
and it ends up being like I felt like by
the end of this movie, even though you get moments
like I like the idea of exploring, like, well, what
does art accomplish if you are talking about capitalism to capitalists,
Like that's a really interesting question that is impossible to

(33:00):
answer in the space of one art. But it just
felt like she was, Yeah, she was used as a
tool and you don't know really anything about her outside
of the fact that she's an artist and she's like
Keith Stanfield's girlfriend. And then as the movie goes on,
it almost feels like she's this like symbolic pawn and like, well,
if she goes with is she going to go with

(33:20):
Squeeze or is she going to go with Cash? Will
Cash get his shipped together? Or will she go with
Mr Union? And it just like, I feel like it
totally undercuts a really cool character they set up that
we never get to, like, you're totally right, Sam, she
doesn't have friends to talk to. There are no women
present in Cash's life outside of her that we know of,

(33:42):
and even I mean I was even like hoping for Scraps.
I think the first time I watched this movie, it
like registered for me, but I was so blown away
by what this movie does well that I was like, well,
I don't know. And then when I watched it the
second time, it's like we don't even get like some
sort of big are contrived conversation between her and Kate Berland,

(34:03):
like they worked together, why can't we have that? And
they're like politically opposed. Yeah, Kate Berland has the most
interesting monologues of all the management at the company. The
Key's character works for. They don't give you any backstory
on her, and it's Kate Berlant who can do it.
She can read any lines you want to give her.
She's great. It is. It is wild to me, though,

(34:24):
especially when I look at like the Bechtel of it
all and the colorism of it all. She's not just
this black woman who was a prop for this guy.
She's a very light skinned, very traditionally beautiful black woman
who was a prop not just for this man, but
a prop for these capitalist art consumers who get to

(34:46):
throw ship at her. The color politics of it also
feel weird, especially when you think about, all right, who
was most hurt by the excesses of the late stage capitalism,
Women in particularly dark color yeah, and black women yeah.
And so if anything, a film that's a commentary on

(35:08):
late stage capitalism should be centered around women because they're
going to bear the brunt of the burden of all
that bullshit they always do. And there was like a
fair amount. I mean, I it sucks. I wish that
this had been kind of a more public discussion. I Caitlin,
were you able to find any example of Boots Riley

(35:28):
addressing this, because he I wasn't able to find a
quote of that, because he does tend to be like,
he seems like kind of open to like having those discussions.
I just wasn't able to find evidence of this discussion specifically,
doesn't mean it doesn't exist. I was able to find it.
Did find him in an interview. I forget which YouTube
interview it was, but you know, I was kind of

(35:51):
fooling around on YouTube. Ever heard of it? Oh? And
the interviewer had a different perspective and said the it, Um,
you know, Tessa Thompson's character is so well developed. How
like how did you go about developing her? And he said, like, oh,
I basically wrote myself into that character. Um, I didn't

(36:13):
like write down direct quotes, but that like paraphrasing is
is what he said, I mean, which which I do
definitely see because he's like an artist making making a
you know, you know, making radical anti capitalist statements. Yeah,
but in doing that, he's also, like you mentioned Sam,
like giving her a very like sexualized body centric piece

(36:37):
of performance art, and he's like, I just it feels
like a very valid criticism to say that he's like
not putting black women's experiences like front and center in
this film, and it undercuts what he's trying to say
with the rest of the movie by making Tessa Thompson
like a tool versus a character. I maybe it's just

(37:00):
because the bar for developing women in movies is so low,
and especially for characters who are like the love interest
of the male protagonist, who get like usually zero characterization.
I actually felt that Detroit got more characterization than we

(37:22):
are used to seeing. It doesn't necessarily mean that it's
like it was a shining example, but I would argue
that we know more about her than we know about
Salvador or Squeeze. Sure, a lot of what she does
is very contingent on her relationship with Cash, But the
fact that we even know that she's an artist and

(37:44):
we see her do her art and we see her
like at an art show in a scene that doesn't
need to be in the movie, but it was intentionally
put there. I was. I was on the fence because
I do I don't know like all the mechanics that
play in that scene where you're seeing her art, I
feel I I feel like, ultimately, for me, the concept

(38:06):
of art was better characterized and explored than she herself
care was, and like knowing that Boots Riley saw himself
as like was was putting a lot of himself into that,
that kind of helps clarify it because it's like, it's
not like, you know, being an artist that wants to
use their body as a part of their art is

(38:27):
inherently bad. Like I used I do that ship all
the time. So but it's like, because it's a straight
man writing a woman's art, like it just I feel
like it gets so messy. It did feel messy, And
the thing that really stuck out to me was I
felt she was framed as kind of like the prize
to be one back at the end when like you know,

(38:49):
cash triumphs. And of course there's the very well worn
trope of a male hero, you know, getting the girl
at the end of the movie as a way to signify, look,
how awesome he is, look at how much he deserves
like a woman's body and a woman's love, Like this
is his reward for the heroic thing he did. That

(39:11):
felt pretty glaring, and I kept waiting for that to
be pushed back on in because this movie is so
self aware about so many issues, but this is just
like not really one of him well, and it felt
like they were trying to juxtapose almost these parallel mirror
images of the way capitalism makes you compromise your morals

(39:33):
through the Keats character and through Tessa's character. But the
whole time we're seeing this complexity with the Key's character
in this conflict, and like he's really a great guy,
but he has to make these choices for the money. Ostensibly,
Tessa Thompson's character is doing the same thing, making these
artistic choices for the money to support her art, but

(39:55):
there's never time given to her to be that complex
and to be that nuanced. She's almost painted in that
scene where the Sheep's buddished on her as a sellout.
And even though lakeiths perhaps the bigger sellout in the movie,
he's never really painted as such. He's always just compromised
and in distress and has to do what he has

(40:15):
to do. That felt weird as well, like there's a
version of this movie where you let them truly be
mirror images and they both get equal tire and equal
space to be conflicted. Yeah, that's because it is like
the question that Detroit's character is exploring is so interesting
and like one that is clearly and like understandably haunting

(40:37):
Boots Riley, and so it's like why not give that
equal precedence. And it's almost more interesting because it's like,
I know the answer for the Lakeith question. You know,
capitalism that makes employees slaves is inherently bad. Yes, we
get that. It's a much harder conversation when you talk

(40:57):
about a responsibility and artist has two money. A responsibility
an artist has to sustain ability and keeping their art going.
That's almost a more interesting question to ponder. And Boots
Riley just didn't really do it. And that's the true question.
That's more relative. I mean, that's like I think about
all the time of like we have a feminist podcast

(41:17):
on I Heart Radio, Like so yeah, got money, right,
Like you have to make these compromises, yeah, and those
are I mean I listen, I read ad copy now
and I'm just like, whoa, this is why right? Like
Loft just reading ad like for what But like that
is the kind of like stomach crawling stuff that I

(41:37):
feel like Boots Riley is well equipped to do. I
don't know why, like even outside of the fact that there,
I don't know. I don't know. And then did you
have other writers on this film or was it just
him he's the only credited writer. It was this was
like a labor of love for him, as as far
as I could tell, this was something he was working
on for years and years and years. The full screenplay
was published in McSweeney's back in teen um. He finished

(42:01):
the first draft in Yeah. Wow. So here's the thing.
It's funny that you tell me that, because it makes
me think of a man, a male writer that we
mentioned before in this chat, Mike White, who did The
White Lotus Um. I realized the biggest critiques I had
of that show, and the plot holes that he let

(42:22):
get through could have probably been answered or solved they're
spoken to if he had just had some other writers.
I think a lot of times we reward these often
male writers for having this particular unique vision that they
hold close to their hearts for a decade or more
and make art and make work out of. But it's like,
your work would be better, Mike White, Boots Riley if

(42:45):
there were women in the room, people not like you
in the room, people who see the world differently than
you in the room, and you're still the boss. You
can preserve your central vision, but everyone could use some
help in those regards. And I just feel like this
is an example of a male screenwriter having a great
idea but not getting enough notes. Yeah yeah, because it's

(43:09):
it's and and with this story in particular, Like I
totally see what you're saying, Caitlin about Like we do
know more about Detroit than we would know about a
lot of like quote unquote love interest characters in any movie.
And it maybe would like bother me less if there
were other women around who we like gott to look into.

(43:32):
But because it's like the only woman we get to know,
and also the only black woman we get to know,
her body is used to kind of half explore a
topic that the movie doesn't quiet land on an answer to.
And it's a who she gonna pickan, I don't know.
It's just like, and I totally agree Sambler. It's like

(43:53):
if you had a woman take a pass way, higher
likelihood that that would have been caught and expanded on
or like scale back or whatever the solution would have been.
Definitely I'm wonder and I guess I want to ask,
how do you all survive as fans of movies, watching

(44:13):
and reviewing and going back over movies and this with
this critical lens, do you just give up a lot
of movies? As we always say, everyone is allowed to
love whatever they love, whatever they grew up loving. We
just ask people to be critical of the media they consume.
You can still love something that you know isn't perfect
and that has issues. I mean, goodness knows, I love

(44:36):
a lot of problematic shit still because if you only
loved things that were absolutely flawless when it comes to
like intersectional feminist analysis, Chicken Run, Chicken Run, and that
and that in mel Gibson's in that. So you still can't,
you know, love it fully. We have nothing. We have
no there's not there's nothing. So you know, we we

(44:57):
do kind of you know, you do kind of have
to make like compromise is as as far as your
tastes and the media that you consume. It's just all about,
you know, having the conversations about the issues in the
things you love. Yeah, you know, it's it's thinking about
how different this film might have been if a woman

(45:17):
were helping write it, or anybody other than Boosts were
helping him write it. The thing that was lost in
this discussion in the film about the plight of the
low age worker is that a lot of low wage workers,
and a lot of low wage workers who are women
who identify as a women. They are often taking care
of somebody else. They are often raising a child or

(45:39):
more by themselves. They are often taking care of an
ailing older relative by themselves, And the entire equation of
how you work and how you live is affected by
that reality. And I think the story would have had
even more depth than Richness if the low wage worker
at the center of this movie we're also a caregiver,
We're also a woman like that, Like that's the reality.

(46:02):
And I just feel like Boots Riley Boot Riley's commentary
about late capitalism through this movie, it kind of ignores
who is usually the default low wage worker. It's a
woman exploited worker, right, and the most vulnerable workers, right,
especially because like women not only have to deal with,

(46:25):
you know, their labor being exploited in the workplace, they
also often have to deal with sexism and sexual harassment.
But instead we see in this movie um caper Lance
character is sexually harassing cash. Not to say that doesn't happen,
but likely it's less likely, although you know, there's a

(46:46):
conversation to be had about like white people sexualizing black
bodies and you know, black male bodies, and but um,
I don't even know if the movie is trying to
make intention on that, right, I wasn't really sure it
wasn't the Yeah, I wasn't going now far. I wasn't
sure what the intention was. But yeah, you know, women
have to deal with a lot of extra things usually,

(47:12):
and I do get like, I think we've had conversations
like this before where sometimes, oh, I'm actually thinking of,
what was that Sofia Coppola movie we covered a bajillion years,
so the Big Guild, the Big Guild, right where she
was adapting an older movie that had a black character
in it. But Sofia Coppola said at the time, well,

(47:35):
that's not my experience, so I just wrote up the character,
which is such an absurd reaction. I will say one
thing about Sofia Coppola. She is unabashedly white. She doesn't
she is not apologized before I will say, love the
blame ring, love the blame, white chaos, and it's fine.

(47:57):
I hate that, Oh it's good. But she I mean,
she yes, she is. She is Aspen white, she is
Boston white. She is white white, but like that was
and she, I mean in the style you're describing, like
in the most white woman's style. She was like, well, yes,
there was originally a black woman in the original movie.

(48:19):
People had a lot of criticism of how she was written.
And I'm not a black woman and no one else
is writing on this movie, so I just wrote that
character out and you're like, that is well. And this
is a thing with like people is powerful in the
industry of Sofia Coppola. They can actually budget as many
writers as they want for their projects, right, Like it's
a choice. It's a choice, Like Boots Riley, you know what,

(48:41):
maybe this was a maybe this was like a total
indie project. He had no money, enough funding, no help.
But Sophia, you've got resources, right, yeah, no excuse. And
she's just like choosing to be ignorant and erase people
from her narrative that she doesn't understand or care about.
Like although it is predicted, like I know what I'm
in for when I watch a Sofia Coppola movie, White Chaos, right,

(49:04):
Like there's no question marks there truly, So I'm not
it's not it's not a one to one with that
situation in Boots Riley. But it does remind me of
like like the critiques you were you were making about
tours in general earlier, Sam, where it's like, oh, well,
if I you know, Boots Riley doesn't understand women's experiences,
so he kind of shies away from exploring them in

(49:25):
this movie versus bringing someone else in who could help
him more fully realize that experience and improve the movie. Right, yeah, yeah, yeah,
Well it's weird because like film inherently a so collaborative.
You've seen film shoots is dozens of people doing this
ship and then don't even talk about posts, right, Like

(49:46):
everything we see on the screen has had dozens if
not more people involved, and yet so many writers are
like I can only do this part myself. It's a weird.
I don't know if it's an ego thing most of
the time or and Charlie, it could have been a
budget thing too, And I know that this was like
a you know, labor of love for him and three
point two million, it's like a three It was like

(50:07):
a three million dollar budget. That's a low budget for
a little budget. I mean, I love Boots Riley, like
I feel like this is the sort of thing where
it's like, I would be really surprised if his next
project came out and the same issues were present. Like,
it doesn't seem like unlike Sofia Couple. He seems like
an artist who actively does want to like grow and
learn and all this all this ship um, but it did.

(50:30):
It was interesting that it was like, oh, it felt
to me of like, well, I want to have, you know,
these characters in the movie, but I don't fully understand
the experience. So it's like I'll just focus on more
of what I know, and that's more of like l
Keith Stanfield's experience because Boots Riley also this story was
like pulling from his own life where he used to

(50:51):
work in telemarketing when he just started making music to
make ends meet. And so it's like, even though I
guess he's exploring the art side of himself through Tasa
Thompson's character, the more like direct experience analog um, at
least at the beginning of the movie is the Keith
Stanfield character right. Fun fact, I did tell the marketing

(51:12):
years ago for four days there's no way, and I
got paid out for four days of training. Oh my god,
route what were you marketing? I didn't find out WHOA.
I think it was something cable related. Shout out West
Telemarketing r I P. I think they're dead now. I

(51:37):
don't know. I have a I have complicated feelings about
this because I wonder if maybe it's just because the
movie accomplishes and comments on so much else that I'm like,
I'm a little bit more lenient with it, because I mean,
so many movies that take a very sexist approach to
characterizing the women also are bad in many other ways.

(52:00):
But this movie, it has a strong agenda, anti capitalist agenda.
It's very pro union, it's pro working class, it's it's
pro black in a really beautiful way, for sure. It's
it's you know, commenting on police brutality, it's commenting on
cultural appropriation. It's you know, it's handling a lot of
stuff and it's right, and it's like no movie has

(52:21):
to handle like everything I think like. But I do
feel like, I don't know, for the for the purposes
of our movie, does Chicken Run Chicken Run the most
progressive film of all time? Well, in part preas it's
probably free from a lot of these constraints of race
and gender, politics. It's chicken because they're chickens. Because they're chickens.

(52:44):
Although they are gendered, right, they are gendered, They're very gendered.
Refer to our episode on Chicken Run for the dission,
I'm going to rewatch the movie and then listen to
the episode. My my evening is set. It's a Chicken
Run kind of afternoon. Okay, it is one of our
Patreon episodes, so it is behind because but also happy

(53:05):
to contribute. I'm I'm here for it. Did you just
sell our guest on our patreots. I'm speaking. I am
speaking to the to the everyone who is listening who
might be interested in the Chicken Run episode, letting them
know setting expectations. You know, No, I totally agree with you.
And it's like and we never want to like set
the bar of like every movie needs to tackle every topic.

(53:29):
We complete realization and perfectly. But but I think just
for me, like it's because this movie has such a
strong progressive agenda and black women are so frequently um
left out for sure of progressive narratives. It's like worth mentioning. Definitely,
no doubt about it. I do want to share a

(53:50):
quote from Tessa Thompson from an interview on on the
Build series YouTube channel, she was asked why she wanted
to be in this movie, and she said, quote, I've
always wanted to make a film that hung out in
the space of magical realism. So many of the films
that I love sort of used that filmically, and for

(54:12):
whatever reason, there are never any black or brown people
in those narratives. So I just always assumed that I
would never get to make a film like that unquote,
which very true most fantasy, sci fi, magical realism, surrealist.
I mean, we were talking about the current Lord of

(54:33):
the Rings discourse somehow going on at the beginning of
this episode, like it's ridiculous, right, So you know, happy
for her that she got to be in a movie
like in the genre that she wanted to be in.
But yeah, still, but I still wish that they've done
a better job with the character. But also though, if
you are a black actor or actress in Hollywood, a

(54:56):
black woman in Hollywood, I'm guessing you're for the work.
It's still a hard landscape. I mean, it's much better
than it was twenty years ago. But like a lot
of times, you got to just take the job. You
take the job, you know. So I'm never gonna like
begrudge Tessa for this role in this movie. And I'm
not even going to get that mad at Boots, but
I am going to say, like learn something from this. Yeah,

(55:20):
And I just feel like he will, like I know
he will. And the industry has changed. I think a
lot that would have been okay when that movie was
made isn't okay anymore. Yeah, which which does which is
heartening because this is only four years ago. So yeah,
like I for listen, like it is a smaller issue
within a movie that's accomplishing a lot, but you know,

(55:42):
worth addressing. I'm glad. I'm glad that we are discussing it. Yeah,
I just didn't know. I mean, does either of you
know a lot about Boots Riley's life before I knew
who he was, Like I knew he was a musician,
but I just didn't know that he grew up in
in like a really really progressive pro union, Like he
was raised by organizers, he like did all this cool ship,

(56:06):
Like he went to Oakland High School and was organizing
student walkouts when he was like fourteen years old, and
just like his whole life has been defined by these
causes of pro union, pro black, anti capitalist organization. And
it is like so fucking cool to see that like

(56:28):
realized so clearly in a movie that is so good,
like it is, it's it's fucking awesome, it's good. Well,
and I mean like he is just part of a
really large, big, looming legacy of like black people in
the Bay Area, specifically black people in Oakland. They've always
been on that liberation theology. They've always been radicalized fighting

(56:50):
for justice. This is where the Black Panthers are doing
their ship. Like there's a strong legacy there that Boots
Riley is a part of. And that's a beautiful thing.
You know. It's even in spite of the flaws that
we've talked about in this film, to see this creative,
artistic work that comes out of a long lineage of
black activism in the East Bay. It comes out of that, Like,

(57:13):
that's nice to see that. It's so fucking cool, Like
Boots really the cool. And it's like how many of
are like like are like big directors are like publicly
identify as communists, Like that's wild, that's so cool. Well,
and then even to see how we handled the whole
Oscar campaign for it, which was to not it's like

(57:34):
good on you man, like the system get bigger fish
to fry like it's uh yeah, nothing. But he's making
a show right now. What is the name of the shows?
He's like, that's his next project. Because I was like,
where where is he? What's he been doing? He's making
a TV show called I'm a Virgo. That's all I know.

(57:56):
When it comes out as a tourist, I'm a dide.
I can't relate as a Leo. I don't care. But
it's not about me, so I don't care. Yeah, as
as as a Leo. Virgos are frightening to me, but
it is. It is Virgo season, and it's a big
year for virgos because Beyonce released a new album publicly

(58:20):
discussing her virgo Yes, oh she she had a seven
minute song called Virgos Groove on it in her bag
that said, I do feel like every year Leo season
is too short. We deserve six months. But whatever, I agree,
I agree. So shall we talk about what we feel

(58:42):
the movie is accomplishing successfully? Yeah, and it's so much.
It's so like I feel like this is one of
the more at least like modern movies that really clearly
addresses pro union issues in a way that is I
don't don't I don't know what exactly how to phrase this,

(59:02):
but like, I like when movies show you like you
could basically watch this movie and have some sort of
understanding of like this is how a union movement build,
but it doesn't feel like it's bopping you over the
head with it. You see Steven Jan's character like explaining
it basically, like through his actions, and also just because
Cash doesn't know a lot about unionizing, He's just like, yeah,

(59:25):
this sounds good, but like, what is it? And I
just like that Over the course of this movie, you
see them like build union power and see like the
upsides of it, and they you know, when they organize
the like phones down moment that is effective for them,
and then like but then also seeing the other side

(59:47):
of it where people are losing their jobs. They start
to use police force to try to um to try
to oppress union workers as the protests get bigger, and
I don't know, there's not a lot of movies that
have an interest in showing the ups and downs of that.
And they win, It's like a hollow victory, but they win.

(01:00:08):
Kind of like piggybacking off of the police force being used.
I feel like there's like pretty active commentary on cops
using brutality to protect the ruling class and their property
rather because they are seeing routinely in the movie beating
the crap out of the protesters on the picket line

(01:00:29):
for simply exercising their right to protest, and they are
punished violently for it. So I again, not a lot
of movies are interested in exploring that. And then on
top of that, like there's there's I don't know, revisiting
it for this episode was fun because I kind of
forgot how like nuanced that because it's like the movie

(01:00:51):
is very very clearly pro union, but the protagonist is
a union scab. Like he's still going to work, he's
still getting promoted up the ladder, and like he ultimately
quote unquote pays a price for it. But I did
appreciate that it wasn't like like like his predicament was
really clearly contextualized, where it wasn't just like scabs are

(01:01:15):
the devil, and while you don't as if you agree
with what he's doing, you're like made to understand like
why he's doing it because his uncle is going to
lose his house, Like he needs income not just for
himself but for his family, and and like making those
choices under the circumstances are not easy. So it's like

(01:01:35):
should he have been a union scab? I think it's
really easy to say no. But they also very clearly
set up at least the reason why he starts to
do it. I think why he continues to do it
is like capitalist ship, but the reason he starts is
clear and in the same way of just like in
the space of a line um, they contextualize Terry Cruz's

(01:01:58):
like role as a lad and lord of it's really like, yeah,
fuck landlords. Uh, this particular landlord is his uncle and
is going to lose his house. And it's like this
whole Domino line of who is exploiting, who is exploiting who?
It breaks your brain a little bit, right, And again
it's it's the movie exploring why people uphold the status

(01:02:24):
quo that is capitalism. Often it's for survival reasons, like
capitalism does force a lot of people to compromise their
values simply to survive and to like make enough money
to have a place to live and to feed yourself
and feed and take care of your family if you
have one. And then as far as like once you

(01:02:45):
reach that, because Cash is then able to move into
a nice place and buy an expensive car and all
this stuff, Um, why does he continue to uphold the
status quo? Could be apathy? And then it also like
I was wondering about that for like the Mr. Beep character,
he is a black man, but he's always using his

(01:03:08):
white voice. He tells Cash is to always use his
white voice. We don't get any context for why he
is making these choices, but I don't know. It just
felt like an examination of like how capitalism and gaining
wealth warps a lot of people's brains and manipulates them
into making a lot of ethical compromises. Yeah, and and

(01:03:30):
and you see that right away when when Cash starts
his job where one of the first calls he makes
is to an elderly woman who he is trying to
scam because his job to scam her, and she it's like,
I don't have any money, my husband has stage four
cancer and and just like breaks down in tears. And

(01:03:52):
then Cash has to compartmentalize that experience and that you know,
like he knows, but he has to eat, and he
had like he's going to get kicked out of his place.
And it's like you see right away that even when
he's not getting paid, he has to morally compromise himself
in order to you know, in the pursuit of maybe

(01:04:14):
getting paid. It's just like it's so it's so fucking
bleak and it feels terrible, but it's so well done.
It is well and like it like for me, Like
the things that I love about this movie are really lovable. One,
it's really fun to look at. It's visually arresting and stunning,
and it just pops in a way that feels delightful,

(01:04:38):
even of the topic area is pretty dark. And then
besides that, it's a really great showcase of some amazing
actors who were all doing really great work. You've got
like Heat Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Steven Yourn, Kate Berlant, I
could go on Terry cruises in there. Like, there's a
lot of good people in this movie. Danny Glover. To

(01:05:00):
see him pull this cast together and make it all
work on the budget of three million dollars, that's like commendable.
So I don't want to dismiss that like every actor
in this movie is great and they're all doing the work.
Like Tessa's role is flawed, but she plays the funk
out of her role for sure. And there and and
like you're saying earlier, caitl, there's so much going on

(01:05:21):
in this movie. The fact that, like the landing is
stuck on so many issues is like all whole Like
these amazing performances are happening. It's I mean, this is
like this, this is one of my favorite movies. It's
so good. It's so good, and it's like beautiful to
look at and it makes you feel horrible, right and
I mean it it takes some pretty wild narrative risks too,

(01:05:44):
with like suddenly there's horse people in the movie. I
remember when that because that gets revealed maybe like two
thirds of the way through the movie, and I was
just like, oh, I was not expecting this. I was
not expecting to see an enormous horse penis in my face.
Um and yet really wild yet and yet the other
I mean, I guess just on the I mean, if

(01:06:05):
we were unpacking every single thing this movie is saying
about capitalism, we would be here for a long time.
But just a few things that stuck out to me.
Outside of um, I mean, I love Squeezes character, not
just because Steven jon is also in my top tier
celebrity crush pyramid, but of course because I really like

(01:06:26):
that there is a whole character dedicated to building union
power the only thing that let I mean, and I
totally get why he's like I should be Tessa Thomps's boyfriend,
like you know, but outside of that, I mean the
worry free commentary, I feel like it's a really clear
stab at Amazon warehouses and just factory labor in general

(01:06:51):
and all the labor abuses that take place there across
the world. Like yes, and that's also what I loved
about this film, Like it was super wrong. The fucking knows,
you know, right away they're talking about Amazon, and like
thank you for that, like say it cash is green,
Yes exactly, I love it, Like it's so good. And

(01:07:13):
then Squeeze says something like when you're showing a problem
but you have no idea how to control it, you
just get used to the problem, which I feel is
how a lot of people react to what I was
talking about earlier, as far as like people upholding the
status quo of capitalism you're just like, well, I know
I'm like a corporate sellout, but I don't know really

(01:07:36):
what else to do or like what can me one
person possibly accomplished to like unravel this institution so that
you just sort of like get used to it, quote unquote,
and like he's just like boost rally is like making
all these kind of like super leftist borderline actually commune
as talking points of the fact that and through the

(01:07:58):
character of Squeeze and also through some of like what
cash is fox up where I thought like one of
the most effective parts of the movie was the whole
like viral culture stuff, which was super on the nose
as well, but I just thought it was better done
than I've seen it done almost anywhere else. I feel
like a lot of movies and TV shows right now
are trying to like unravel that a little bit. And

(01:08:21):
I like the idea that it's like you get Danny
Glover's perspective on um, I got the ship kicked out
of me, where you know, like Squeeze is like, oh
this is so fucking humiliating, this is so depressing, and
Danny Glover's like this is the best show ever like
that like just whatever the whole like reality TV culture

(01:08:42):
thing of like, well, I feel like I'm getting the
ship kicked out of me every day. At least I
don't have it as bad as that guy. And then
like the super simple like I forgot about it before
rewatching it. But that moment where the woman who throws
the can at the Keith's head she becomes a viral
star and a spokeswoman for the soda company. I forgot

(01:09:05):
about that phazing, Like it's so small that, yeah, it's
like blinking, you'd miss it. But it's like she also
sells out because I'm sure that soda company offered her
a huge fucking check to sell out the act she
took at a union protest and monetize it into being

(01:09:26):
a soda mascot. And that how like Cash has to
like leverage his viral fame, Like would he be able
to get on TV if he hadn't gotten hit in
the head with a soda can? Probably not? And then
when he achieves that, he goes on like Jimmy Fallon
and tells people to call their congressman, which boots Riley
clearly thinks it's useless because Squeeze says that in the

(01:09:47):
next scene where he's like, you know, people, it makes
people feel good to call their congress person because they
feel like they're doing something to address a problem they
actually have very little power to change, which is like
I think very like based on what I know about
Boots Riley, it is just like his his politics, and
it's all done so like smoothly, and it also like

(01:10:09):
looks so cool and that I just yeah, that little undercurrent,
like towards the end of the movie, I just loved it.
It's so good. And then when um Cash tries to
expose worry Free for this like horse people thing they're doing,
it just drastically spikes the stock of worry Free and

(01:10:32):
no one gives a ship. They're like, oh, worry Free
is even cooler than I thought. On the news, they're
calling it like scientific innovations from genius Steve Lift, like,
and it's not until like a violent uprising happens that
and it doesn't even I don't even know how much
it actually changes the world because then we just like

(01:10:52):
zone in back on Cash and he's just sort of
like reconciling his personal life at the end of the movie.
But um and just the idea of like I don't know,
like it just goes against I guess traditional movie logic,
not that you're conditioned to believe you're watching a traditional
movie at all, but like I remember kind of falling
for it the first time, where it's like, by the
end of the movie, Cash has he done a lot

(01:11:15):
of legal crimes, Yes, but he's learned his lesson, He's
learned the error of his ways. He's a union man now,
he's like back to where he started, but with all
the knowledge that he's learned over the course of the movie,
and maybe things are going to be all right. But
the movie kind of suggests like, well, the reality isn't
that simple, Like he did learn something, but it's too

(01:11:38):
late to go back to the way things were. And
then another thing that we haven't really touched on yet
that the movie comments on is code switching and Cash
having to code switch to make sales and turn more
profits for the company, which is based on Boots Riley

(01:12:01):
again working as a telemarketer, you know, back in the day,
and finding that he needed to put on a different
voice to find success quote unquote at this job. I've
got to I've got a quote from him here from
from a Guardian interview from when the movie came out. Yeah,
speaking to this point, he said, quote, you try to

(01:12:22):
obscure the fact that you're black, just on the very
basic level of trying to make someone feel like you're
like them, and on the more racist level of someone
being okay giving you their credit card information. That's what
I was pulling from. Unquote Yeah, well, and like it
was nice for me to see it just like made
so plain and so clear. I think, like in other spaces,

(01:12:44):
no one is asking you to coach with but they're
expecting it, and there are like gradations of the codes,
which like I worked in public radio for twelve years
and no one's ever telling you to sound more white,
but you get it, and you get who the audience is.
And so to see code switching as a phenomenon and
a problem punched up to like the highest level, I

(01:13:06):
don't know if I'm refreshing. I thought that part of
the film was handled perfectly because it's honestly true. It's
still true. And then in addition to that, so there
are instances where characters want him to quote unquote act
more white, and then other cases where they want him

(01:13:27):
to like lean into racist stereotypes Basically that part where
Steve Lift is when he's forced to wrap, but he's
just he makes this improvisational rap song where it's just
him saying nigga shit over and over and over again.
This is after he got to that very room where
he gets to wrap nigga shit by talking white. I mean,
it is a perfect encapsulation of the conundrum of black

(01:13:50):
success in America. You have to be both very black
and not at all black to make it, and there's
always some white person or a white pressure or power
telling you how to do it. It's weird and like,
he did get that right, and that's why it's like,
you know, gosh, I wish he would have gotten gender
better as well, but he got that really right. And

(01:14:13):
that Steve Lift once cash he knows that his worry
free employees are going to revolt. He's like, yeah, they're
probably going to revolt, so I need someone on the
inside to be m okay. Yeah, He's like, and I'll
give you a hundred million dollars to do it, because
you doing that will like I can still spend a

(01:14:35):
hundred million dollars on that. That will be chunk change
compared to the billions he will make exploiting the labor
of the Equi sapiens, this freaky horse eugenics project. Yeah,
that whole sequence, Like I mean, and that is the
movie goes so off the rails, but it's so like
it's so good. The sequence where Army Hammer like puts

(01:14:57):
pressure on on Cash to rop which he's like, I
don't do that, and he's like, well, yes you do,
because he's racist. And then it's like on Cash to
empower this room full of white executives to wrap the
N word along with him, which they gladly do, and
then he goes, which is like lah. And then in

(01:15:19):
that scene, I just thought it was because like the
Steve the Steve List character, I feel like it's like,
you know, kind of an amalgamation of all these billionaire
white tech bros. Where it's like there's a little bit
of Elon Musk in them, there's a little bit of
Dan Bill's Arian and them. There's like a lot a
lot of these fucos are like all wrapped into this
one character. But I thought it was like interesting how

(01:15:43):
the character like repeatedly really wants Cash to understand that
he knows exactly what he's doing, but he's justified in
doing it, where he's like, well, I'm not evil, or
like when Cash discovers the first horse person who like
the experiment has gone wrong and they're in a a
lot of pain and he's afraid. He pisses himself and

(01:16:03):
like he wants to leave. Steve lifts only counterpoint is like, well, no,
you should have watched this video before, because like, I
don't want you to think of doing this for no reason.
Like he's justified doing it to himself, because he's like,
well it's I have a reason, and like whether the
reason is good doesn't matter. He just needs people to
know that there's a purpose. It's just so it's right.

(01:16:25):
It's the mental gymnastics, the you know CEOs have to
do or who even knows what goes through a CEOs brain.
There's a scene earlier on where you see an interview
with Steve Lift where he's responding to the claims that
worry free employment is basically slavery, and he's like, well,

(01:16:46):
that's not true because people are saying that we make
the workers sign a lifelong contract under the threat of violence,
and he's like, we don't do that under the threat
of violence, and therefore these claims are ridiculous. And meanwhile
he's running the company like the fucking Sea Org. You're like,
this is so scary. Also, contracts are just so fucking

(01:17:07):
bogus period, Like they're bogus. It's funny. Like I've worked
in media now for twelve years, and the longer I
do it, the more you realize a lot of the
ship they have the talent signing never would never hold
up in the court of law. They just have you
sign it. This ship is so like nobody should ever
sign anything that has anything like a non compete in it.

(01:17:29):
That's bullshit. It doesn't like it can't do it. I
don't know. Sorry, I'm just like sorry to rent here,
but like that part really spoke to me. It's curious,
Like the very nature of contracts is fake, right and fake,
And it's like predicated on the idea that you should
be grateful for the opportunity, Like you're like, yeah, don't
read the fine print. And it's also predicated on the

(01:17:50):
idea of a threat. The threat of a really binding
contract is that you'll never have enough money to fight
this in court. That's a threat. And so they can
say that to you and know that you know that
even knowing that, like the stuff in the contract isn't
even that quite legal, but they know that you'll never
have enough money to take him accord on it. Anyways, Sorry,
I digress. I know it's it's relevant. I feel like

(01:18:12):
we should talk about this stuff more. Yeah, yeah, like
I mean, and it's like you watch you watch Cash
make these what he is able to justify. We were
talking about this a little earlier, but I just again,
I'm like Boots Riley, like he knows his ship backwards
and forwards where it's like it's not like I mean,
I guess that the hundred million dollar quote unquote contract,

(01:18:35):
which is a fucking meaningless scrap of paper, is the
big compromise. But Cash is asked to make these little
compromises over and over, and it's reassured that, like this
is temporary, you are a good person, And that's like
what Cash responds to. He wants to like build a
legacy in the capitalist sense, but he also needs to

(01:18:57):
think that he's a good person and so, which I
think is like a more relatable struggle than a lot
of people want to talk about. But it's like even
that first scene with him and Tessa Thompson's character where
he's like, I want to like make some sort of
mark on the world, and which is I think, like
whatever universal feeling. But how do you accomplish that without

(01:19:21):
hurting somebody? And so he has to be repeatedly reassured
throughout the movie that it's like this is it's just
for now, and it's starting in that scene that the
scene I feel like, even more so than the Steve
Left hundred million dollars thing, the first time that he
makes the big compromise while there's a union action happening
in the adjacent room, where he starts off like saying

(01:19:44):
fuck you, fuck you, and fuck you, and then within
two minutes he's completely capitulated, and it's yeah, he's like no, no, no, no,
we're giving you a promotion. And he's like, well, all right,
then take back my fuck you's and you know what
he's doing it like it's just a yeah, it's these

(01:20:06):
things are very complicated. And also that he he's good
at what he does, even though what he's doing is
like evil, morally bankrupt, but he takes pride in like
being good in his work, which is a very relatable thing.
And another question to go back to Detroit for a second,
and a question I had about her character that I

(01:20:26):
don't know the answer to. I kind of think like
it would have been another way to look at her character,
because I don't mean this in a judgmental way, but
I was curious, like it seems like in the context
of this movie, she like one day is like, Okay,
you've been a union scab for too long and now
we need to break up. And I was like, what,

(01:20:48):
Like why now? How is she able to justify staying
with him for so long? Like all are just questions
I would have liked to see it explored through the
story a little more without needing to add in like
Squeeze as a an alternate boyfriend in order to accomplish
because it's like her politics are very clear. Obviously this

(01:21:10):
is a big problem for them, but as Keith's character
points out, she's enjoying the spoils of what he's doing.
She's living in this nicer apartment. She is like she
is partaking and compromised in some way in the way
that everybody is. I don't know, it's just like another
question that it was like that would have been cool
to see her explore outside of the context of this relationship. Indeed,

(01:21:34):
does anyone have anything else they want to discuss? I
think I've given you all I want to give. Yeah.
My last thing is that they credited the horse animation
video to Michelle Dongre and that made me laugh, right, yeah, Michelle,
all right. So as far as the Bechdel test, it

(01:21:58):
does not pass, doesn't. Yeah, women don't interact. I thought
we would get a throw away. We did not, not
even that. And again it's like, not the be all
end all. It is a metric that was made as
a one off thing, but it does feel relevant here. Yeah,

(01:22:18):
but what is the be all end all media metric
is the nipple scale? Are perfect flawless metric? Perfect metric
in which we rate a movie zero to five nipples
based on examining it through an intersectional feminist lens. And

(01:22:38):
for this movie, I mean, it's it's a tricky one
because again, it is handling a lot of things very well.
It's it's handling issues surrounding class and race extremely well
and thoughtfully. As far as how it handles gender, though,
as we've discussed, not quite so good. I guess I

(01:23:02):
would because of that probably just split it down the
middle and give it two point five nipples. I'll give
one to Tessa Thompson, I will give one to the
Keith Stanfield, my crush, and um, I'll give my half
nipple to Boots Riley. Oh maybe. I Yeah. This is

(01:23:25):
this is again a brain breaker because I think of
all the issues this movie explores effectively, gender is maybe
the least effectively explored issue. I'm gonna go three because
I just think that this movie is doing so much
right and it's one of my favorites, so I'm also biased.
But yeah, I totally agree with what you're saying, Caitlin.

(01:23:47):
I think that it is like worth discussing that there
is only like one main female character and that she
is very much used as a UM, I don't know
she's she is more than just a girlfriend character. I
think that, like, I don't want to be reductive to
the character of Detroit, but it's just like very underexplored.

(01:24:10):
We don't have a second woman for her to talk to.
And because you know, black women's experiences are so under
explored in media in general, the fact that this huge
leftist movie kind of skirts around giving her an actual
narrative feels uncool. I don't love it, but I love
so much about this movie. It's like the absolute fucking best. Um.

(01:24:34):
I mean again, right up there with Chicken Run. And
that's a huge compliment coming from me. I'm not going
to put it there. I'm going to give it. I'm
gonna give it a two and a half. I think,
like what I loved about it the first one or
two times I watched it was not negated, but put
in different focus after I watched it through the Bechdel lens,

(01:24:57):
and I just think that, like, we have to continue
to ask in to do better, and so Boots, do better.
You've got potential. We love you. Do better two and
a half. Let's hope fingers crossed that there's a lot
of good good ship in whatever the Virgo Show is.
Don't know. Get a writer's room. That's the writer's room

(01:25:20):
room exactly, and make sure it's diverse. Yeah, Sam, thank
you so much for being here. It's pleasure. Where can
people follow you online? Check out your stuff? Plug away? Yeah?
I am at Sam Sanders on both Instagram and Twitter.

(01:25:42):
S A M S, A N D E R S.
And I have two weekly podcasts. I have a podcast
with my good friends Say Jones and Zach Stafford. We
chat about whatever. It's our group chat come to life.
That show was called Vibe Check. Episodes drop every win day.
And then I host a show for Vulture in New

(01:26:03):
York Magazine. It's called Into It. It is Vultures flagship
pop culture show all about the pop culture we can't
stop thinking about. That show publishes every Thursday, So Wednesdays
and Thursdays find me talking to you and all other
times find me at Sam Sanders wherever, and you can
follow us on social media at becktel Cast, Twitter, and Instagram.

(01:26:29):
We of course have our Patreon slash Matreon where you
can find our Chicken Run episode along with over a
hundred other bonus episodes, all at patreon dot com slash
Bechtel Cast, and then you can get merch over at
t public dot com slash the Bechtel Cast. Now, everyone,

(01:26:51):
I gotta I gotta go kill a billionaire because I'm
a horse, So I gotta get out of here. Same alright,
Bye

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Caitlin Durante

Jamie Loftus

Jamie Loftus

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