Monday, April 21, 2014

Comparative Cultural Analysis and Explorations in Afrofuturism - Sleep Dealer by Alex Rivera

Greetings, Nathan.

Over the course of the semester, we have been exploring afrofuturism in African American literature and culture.  Considering the context of the class, I thought it would be helpful to examine the intersections of ‘futures’, identity (racial/ethnic) and cultural appropriation in art that is not as coded “African American”.   

You recently viewed Sleep Dealer written and directed by Alex Rivera.  In this blog post, I am asking you to expand your scope of analysis into the realms of comparative cultural studies.

How are some of the tropes we recognize in theories associated with afrofuturism evidenced in a film like Sleep Dealer?

Did you recognize any artistic representations of cultural issues in SleepDealer that were similar to the conceptual foundations we attribute as necromancy, double consciousness, ect… in critical discussions pertaining to afrofuturism?

1 comment:

  1. Sleep Dealer is an immaculate film that showcases a near-future that discusses modern social ills and their possible evolutions in an exacerbated state. Particularly, I can see notions attributed with necromancy defined by Ishmael Reed in one line from the film, “is our future a thing of the past?” Memo’s father asks him this and the dual inference that can be found from this is striking. His father basically asks him if the future will be built upon the structures of the past; the same cycle of violence, inequality, poverty and oppression.

    Also, his father is questioning Memo if he will value the strength of his culture and how they have survived to the present day despite all this hardship. Another facet of Afrofuturist thought that is prevalent throughout the film is the concept of the Digital Divide as posited by Alondra Nelson, in which people of color are seen as oppositional to technology.

    There is a line in the film that exemplifies this notion that states, “your DNA is your password”. The node bio-electrical technology as a system is one in which your biological make-up grants you access to a virtual space. This can be read as nationality hampering the privilege of access as can be seen when Memo inadvertently hacks into airwaves and his father is subsequently killed. Memo’s identity as Mexican does not facilitate his access into this exclusionary space, and therefore, he must be taught where the lines are drawn.