Culture Movies Music Politics

Sorry To Bother You, Much More Than A Dark Comedy Film

I’m a huge fan of the long-running American musical collective, The Coup, and their brand of politically and socially aware hip hop. In 2012 the group released a concept album called Sorry To Bother You, including the infectious single The Magic Clap, which drew its inspiration from an unproduced screenplay of the same name by the lead vocalist, Boots Riley. That script charted the left-wing rapper’s experiences as a telemarketer in California, where the alleged adoption of a nondescript or generic “white” voice was seen as a key to success during business calls. After several years of hard work the story has finally reached the big screen, garnering much critical acclaim for Riley, who also directed the feature in his cinematic debut. Andrew Dobbs for War Is Boring has done an excellent job of teasing out one aspect of the surreal satire which many reviewers in the United States have tended to overlook:

What really sets the film apart, however, is a bold anti-imperialism that no other U.S. films — independent or otherwise — have put forward in recent years.

He goes on to note that the movie includes a focus on the mining of coltan, a black mineral formally known as columbite-tantalites or tantalite, which is essential for the manufacture of most electronic devices.

…in the DRC [Democratic Republic of Congo] control of this vital, valuable resource has fueled one of the deadliest conflicts in human history. The Second Congo War technically lasted only between 1998 and 2003, but violence has been ongoing ever since, with up to 5.4 million people killed and more than 4 million people still displaced in the DRC.

The country is ruled by the corrupt dictator Joseph Kabila who took over for his father Laurent-Désiré Kabila in 2001. Kabila’s family controls most of the coltan production in the DRC, making them fabulously wealthy even while the Congo is — according to the IMF — the second-poorest country in the world per capita. According to Amnesty International children as young as seven are forced to work 12 hour days for one dollar mining coltan, and in some instances they are worked as unpaid slaves.

Proper working conditions, fair wages, human rights, ending corruption and providing a share of profits to the public would dramatically raise the price of coltan and with it, the cost of virtually all electronic devices. This would undermine the profits of U.S. companies…

This is probably why the United States military has supported the Kabila government, and it’s probably why a low budget independent film like Sorry to Bother You is one of the only places you’ll hear about coltan mining in popular entertainment.

Read the whole article as it covers more ground than just the above. Unfortunately I cannot find any Irish release date for Sorry To Bother You, so it will probably be a case of waiting for a streaming or blu-ray edition.


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