Woot! on Commie punk-hip-hop-rapper Boots Riley’s new film! [updated]

Here’s Boots describing the first film he’s ever written and directed, ‘Sorry to bother you’.

This is the Guardian’s Charles Bramesco on July 3: ‘In his genre-defying directorial debut, Sorry to Bother You, the rapper and producer is bringing radicalism to the big screen, whether the industry is ready for him or not’  (some snippets):

“Just as his work defies easy classification, so too does Riley himself refuse to be placed in a tidy media narrative. He’s a dedicated radical with the street cred to prove it, a wicked humorist oscillating between surreal satire and gallows slapstick, a rapper alone in a genre he created, an authority on class theory who loves to party, and now, a film-maker wending his way through an industry he doesn’t quite consider hostile territory, but doesn’t trust, either. Messy as the task might be, we’re all going to have to figure out what to make of Riley, because he doesn’t intend on going anywhere any time soon.”

At age 47, two and a half decades out from the release of his first album as ringleader of the Oakland hip-hop collective the Coup, Riley has steered his career closer to the mainstream than ever without compromising his deeply held political convictions. No easy feat, as shown in Sorry to Bother You, his debut as director. The film is an incendiary look at the trials and tribulations black men face in an economy exploiting and demeaning them before casting them aside. Riley transmuted his own frustrations from dealings with record label suits into a fairytale nightmare of late capitalism: Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield), a telemarketer, finds that his commissions soar when he puts on his “white voice” and tumbles into a corporate behemoth with darker intentions even beyond their stated mission of sanitized slavery. With ribald humor and outrageous provocations – there’s a nearly nude recitation from the Berry Gordy-produced film The Last Dragon, and a number of jokes revolve around a specific aspect of a specific animal’s anatomy – Riley has cloaked a subversive anti-establishment screed in allegory.”

“Riley has spared no effort to ensure that his call to arms doesn’t get drowned out by the peals of laughter. Steeped as the film is in an antic sensibility, the themes of oppression and organized resistance aren’t shuffled off to the subtext. Cassius bears witness to the insidious process by which institutions nudge the unthinkable into the realm of acceptability bit by bit, and joins a rebel faction putting Riley’s fiery ideologies into practice.”

Boots is fiercely defensive about Oakland, and speaks of the plantation gentrification happening there as almost kitsch, and says he ain’t so concerned about the people moving in…as he is about the folks having to move out.

His film was shown at Sundance a few months ago (also: woot!) and must have created enough of a buzz to gain him financial backing.  Noting Boots’ distaste for the sort of people who successfully go Hollywood, he found a cool collaborator in Megan Ellison and her Annapurna Pictures distribution company.

“Annapurna is, genuinely, some of the coolest people in Hollywood … but the whole indie capitalists versus big capitalists thing, that preference comes from a lack of class analysis,” he states. “There are practical things that happen when someone’s independent, they can make the choices they want to make. You don’t need a meeting of 200 people that ends with everyone finding something they least disagree with. But, still – it’s like this: I’d rather have the local IPA, because it tastes better, but it’s not ethically superior.

“Riley’s insistence on being Riley, whoever that might be, paid off; instead of angling towards palatability or chasing trends, he’s reshaping the business in his own image.”

Boots: “There are movements happening that aren’t just online: Black Lives Matter, and before that we had Occupy. Even in the cold, marketing-minded sense of ‘What are people into right now?’ it’s all making us feel a little more free … If we want more radical movies, we’ve got to first have more radical movement out in the world. That’s where it starts.”

His wit never ends…

the coup, 2012, right in your face again:

‘Tell Homeland Security: We are the Bomb!’


As they say…On.the.Other.Hand, this is from the billionaires Beyoncé and JayZ’s new album…’Everything is Love’.  Or as Hiram Lee reviewing it as wsws.org says, it should have been titled ‘Money is Everything’

“Nothing on the album is more obscene than the song “Apeshit,” and its accompanying music video. It was filmed in the Louvre in Paris, the world’s largest art museum, which the Carters rented for an undisclosed (presumably vast) sum. They pose for the video cameras in the otherwise empty museum, with the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo all to themselves. Ordinary museum goers are forced to contend with large crowds and lengthy wait times to catch a glimpse of these historic works. The Carters can turn the museum into their own personal parlor for a day—and they want you to know it.”

“Crouched in front of the Winged Victory of Samothrace, the famed Hellenistic sculpture from the second century BC, Beyoncé demands even more money. She raps, “Give me my check/Put some respect on my check/Or pay me in equity/Watch me reverse out of debt.” (One breathless media commentator informs us: “Beyoncé outshines the iconic statue by donning a wedding dress by Stephanie Rolland worth a cool $138,748. She tops off the outfit with a structured, ruffled cape from Alexis Mabille Haute Couture.”)

“He got a bad bitch, bad bitch,” Beyoncé raps about Jay-Z and herself, “We livin’ lavish, lavish/I got expensive fabrics/I got expensive habits.” The music is infused with ego. Even the bass notes seem to pulsate with a complacent swagger. In fact, there is something pathetic and laughable about the entire effort.”

Lee quotes more of the Love $ong lyrics:

“On “Boss,” Beyoncé raps, “My great-great-grandchildren already rich/That’s a lot of brown children on your Forbes list.” Jay-Z raps, “Hundred million crib, three million watch, all facts.” In Jay-Z’s world, “invoices separate the men from the boys.” With a complete lack of self-awareness, he raps in the same song: “Pride always goeth before the fall.”

On “713,” Jay-Z begins, “Cash, hit deposit, 24-carat faucets, Louis V and Goyard trunks all in the closet.” He raps in his usual self-satisfied manner. His voice has always contained a kind of chuckle of contempt for those beneath him financially. “Black Effect” contains one of many references to luxury watches. Jay-Z raps: “Got the Richard Mille all colors, might hit you with the Rose Gold all summer.”

Reviewers at the Pitchfork, the Atlantic, the New Yorker practically genuflected before them, and what it means for Amerika and er…black folk: “The Carters remain billionaires who are not interested in leaving their blackness behind, and that, in some ways, is renegade—even if capitalism isn’t salvation.”

LOL, OMG, and Holy Shit!  Ya couldn’t make rubbish like that up.

Yeppers, like ‘renegade Black Panther Beyoncé:

“Billionaires are “renegade,” progressive—as long as they possess the right identity. Extravagance, as long as it is black, is to be admired. Modern royalty is acceptable, so long as there are more people of color, more women, more gender identities who can also be crowned. Here we find exposed the real class orientation behind racial and gender politics, which seeks to cultivate an elite layer out of these various “identities” at the expense of working people of all identities.

With Everything is Love, these upper middle class commentators have found an appropriate soundtrack for their campaign.”

‘In Beyoncé We Trust‘, anthony freda

8 responses to “Woot! on Commie punk-hip-hop-rapper Boots Riley’s new film! [updated]

  1. Radical, anti-establishment, my kind of guy. Beats the hell out of compromise your soul progressivism. Relative to the entertainment industry, including sports, I was told a number of times over there that they’re different because most came from less than silver spoon situations. So it’s Ok they become billionaires and in fact, they should get even more money because they’re being exploited by the real billionaires.

    I guess it’s like everything else,

    • boots really IS the real deal. remember hotflashcarol at my.fdl? they were friends, comrades in arms even on the streets. i’m simply agog that he got the $$ baking to make the film, considering it’s such a big fuck you to capitalism and wage slavery. those ‘white voices’; can’t wait to discover whose they were! and what part boots’ bro’ patton oswald plays.

      but i remember cross-posting my hit on black panther bey over yonder; most seemed kinda fine w/ it all. ‘c’mon, ladies, get into formation and sell some militant sex’…wow, such a feminist! the accolades hiram lee brought made ya wanna reach for an airsick bag.

  2. j of 9 in oly

    ah yes, but our cultural betters would have us believe that Trumpism, the Don Trump Ego & its values, is some kind of aberration in our society. but both he & J Z share Dragon Power! Trump is us,what spurts & spews & seeps out of the ruptured national septic tank. I’ve never listened to J Z & hopefully never will and have listened in my life to less than 5 minutes of Beyoncé, counting Super Bowls. I can’t comment on their talent. but they are in our faces, and not Boots Riley, cuz they represent our values, aspirations, hopes, etc. our owners’ values, jackhammered into our psyches.

    everything is our society is this way. so the international students coming to study here in Beulah get exposed to Americana via exams like TOEFL. it’s all indoctrination. E.g., in an essay on voting & electoral process in the US, is the number one problem: gerrymandering? money in the system? cronyism? nope, per TOEFL, it’s the archaic paper ballot system, with a nice tech solution (from the likes of Diebold.) But the US votes, so the standardized testing message goes, unlike loser countries. is the number one problem in US forestry management that timber co’s don’t care about a seal of approval from some eco-certifying international body (“this forest clear cut using carbon neutral technologies”)? etc., etc. problems can be solved by tech innovation, bureaucratic reshuffling, and failing all else, rebranding. we don’t use the metric system, b/c of freedom, not b/c capitalist efficiency is a bunch of nonsense & our leaders toss us into the deep end of ignorance to convince us we are an exceptional nation and that Celsius is the tool of the devil. But only the king is advantaged thru use of the king’s foot, right? and Big Fahrenheit, who is behind that temperature thing, huh? no matter, pull out one little prop and where does it stop?

    start changing an F to a C and who knows what might happen?

    anyway, we need new weights & measures for new times. I was hailing a cab the other night & all I had for fare was some cheezburgers. for some reason he didn’t believe me when I said it cost me $5 and we should trade. i think he was innumerate or suffering from dyscalculia and couldn’t do the math to convert cheeseburgers into a distance by cab. he was so embarrassed at himself he sped off. our values are all screwed up, see what i mean?

    • yes, the US votes to maintain our illusion that ‘we’ live in a democracy™, TOEFL bros. paper ballots v. diebolds is a scream though. arrrgggghhhhh! as to this: ‘Trumpism, the Don Trump Ego & its values, is some kind of aberration in our society’, booyah, and i’m involved in a kerfuffle of such at ian welsh’s site over the Q of ‘are current ICE protests partisan?’ and yes, “Breaking up of families and separation of children from their parents is a practice that dates back to the Obama administration”, shadowproof. and ‘are ICE protests partisan?’ as per the open menu.

      it tickles me that freda’s ‘in beyonce we trust’ is rather an oldie and goodie; he’d seen the moolah on the wall long ago. she has talent, obviously, i’ve never hear jayz before, either. and yeppers: better REDD than not dead. yanno, carbon trading is the Free Market at work; sorry amazon rain forests, we got bucks to make.

      i’m eatin’ your cheezeburger metaphor w/ a spoon, lol. sheds a whole different light on wimpy’s deal, doesn’t it? shucks, i’d hope your friend my stop by, figuring he might love boots. do ya now if he ever got my invitation?

      sorry this is so disjointed.

  3. i sure as shootin’ (so to speak) hope boots sees this. he’d love it witless’, as you can read in his essay: ‘A Call Center Coup: Ex-Teamster Boots Riley Tackles Telemarketing and Its Discontents’ Steve Early, counterpunch, July 10

    but spoiler alert: early’s seen the film (and was an activist for a telemarketing firm) me, i won’t likely see if for a couple more years, so i was glad to read the narrative.

    “Fortunately, for millions of potential viewers of Sorry to Bother You, Riley has also found a way to turn his call center experience—shared by millions of other U.S. workers—into a rare Hollywood film dealing with race, class, and the tension between personal ambition and collective action in the workplace. The first-time director employs the manic energy of a Spike Lee movie, rather than the slow, last century pacing of John Sayles, to produce one of the best depictions of labor organizing since Matewan (or Norma Rae and Bread and Roses, for that matter).

    The workers involved aren’t the usual blue-collar union suspects—i.e. mill workers, coal miners, or immigrant janitors. Instead, they’re Bay Area denizens of the “new economy,” multi-racial millennial office workers stuck on the lower rungs of a regional job market offering tantalizing riches (and even affordable housing) for some, but a far more precarious existence for many others.

    In Sorry to Bother You, Steve Lift, the evil CEO of Worry Free, ends up reaping what he sowed. If only more workers struggles had a similar denouement, we’d all be better off. In the meantime, Boots Riley—Oakland activist, musician, and now film-maker extraordinaire—has made labor organizing in an almost entirely non-union industry seem doable and definitely *worth the bother*.


  4. Greyson Smythe

    If anyone’d be interested, Marc Maron interviewed Boots for his WTF podcast: http://www.wtfpod.com/podcast/episode-931-boots-riley-bobcat-goldthwait

    • thanks, greyson. an hour and a half, ay yi yi? might listen to a little…but i will check out bobcat goldthwait, i knew a bob goldthwait back in kent ohio in a great band called ‘the turnkeys’.

      on edit: nope, a new yawker, and so very famous. whaddoIknow?

  5. An Interview With Boots Riley: “In the World of Film, We’ve Edited out All Rebellion”, Chip Gibbons and Boots Riley, aug 8, via blackagendareport.com; text, not video

    What types of political organizing or movements do you think the current moment needs?

    BR: I believe that what we need is a radical-led movement that uses the withholding of labor to win struggles. That means it’s going to have to start with wage struggles, but it’s going to have to be radical in vision and be clear that this is not the only thing that it’s about. I believe that will make it win more because nobody only wants their job to only be about right then; they want to be connected to something else. They also want to believe that the folks that are organizing are actually going to fight to win.

    I think that the movement needs to organize not just in the unions that exist. It needs to organize the rest of the 93 percent of the work force that is not organized.”

    small wonder, i suppose, but a film critic at wsws.org trashed the film because boots is ‘so bougie’. ;-)

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