“Sorry to Bother You” is an artistic commentary on capitalism and classism


Alison Pfaff, Features Editor

“Sorry to Bother You,” 2018’s acclaimed directorial debut by Boots Riley, was a wild ride to say the least. The film is set in an alternate, dystopian version of Oakland, Calif. We follow our main character, Cassius Green (played by Lakeith Stanfield), an African American who lives in the garage of his uncle’s house, struggling to pay rent. Green, down on his luck, gets a job as a telemarketer.

With difficult beginnings in his new profession, including advice to “stick to the script,” he is told he should “talk white” to his customers. With this, Green’s career success takes off.  While Green is finding success and has been promoted to “power caller,” his co-workers decide to form a union to fight for a livable wage.

Green is faced with a choice – to be loyal to his co-workers, or to join the elite “power callers” and their ethically questionable high stakes sales.

This film is hard to place it into one specific genre. While it is a comedy, it also has elements of dystopia and magical realism, presented with beautiful cinematography and meaningful dialog.

The film itself brings up many ideas prevalent in the world today: class, status, corporate greed, activism and racism.

Students for a Democratic Society at College of DuPage screened this film on April 19. Member Alexandra Westberry believes it was an important film to show students at COD.

“Ultimately we wanted to screen ‘Sorry to Bother You’ because its themes are important. Director Boots Riley uses his film to offer a radical class analysis of capitalism and what is sometimes called ‘false consciousness.’  ‘Sorry to Bother You’ has two meanings in this sense. The film is about telemarketing workers (who often say ‘sorry to bother you…’) but also refers to ‘bothering’ a person when telling them something they might not like to hear, such as the film’s commentary on capitalism and class struggle,” Westberry said.

Overall, this film was an artistic approach to socially relevant topics we may not want to hear about but are nonetheless a real struggle that still goes on in this country.

“Sorry to Bother You” is available for streaming on Hulu.