Racism and Resistance: Contextualizing Sorry to Bother You in the Neoliberal Moment
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The goal of this paper is to discuss the historical and theoretical framework of neoliberalism through three films that place the Black body at the center of neoliberal economic and ideological systems: Sorry to Bother You (2018), The Spook Who Sat by the Door (1973), and Black Panther (2018). These films engage questions of race and neoliberalism by placing the Black body at the center of traditionally white structures. Cassius Green and Dan Freeman work their way up the corporate and CIA hierarchy, respectively; however, both men become token symbols of “colorblind” integrationist rhetoric. Further, Sorry to Bother You, as opposed to The Spook Who Sat by the Door, theorizes the disastrous effects of neoliberalization on the Black body through the transformation of Cassius into an equisapien, a neoslavery machine. By adding Black Panther to the discussion, I analyze the ideological struggle between T’Challa and Killmonger. While T’Challa advocates for the maintenance of the Wakandan economic and spiritual lifestyle, Killmonger seeks to upend not only neocolonial systems of oppression but Wakanda itself. Ultimately, Killmonger’s death represents the suppression of radical Black revolutionary activism in favor of a neoliberal economic solution to racism. These films together demonstrate the progression of neoliberal values. Sorry to Bother You concludes with the physical and spiritual transformation of Cassius as he progresses further and further into white spaces. Colorblind ideology fails to recognize and effectively tackle white assumptions of Blackness.
- OU - Theses 
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