Retrofuture of Dirty Computer

Monáe’s Dirty Computer is a vision of the future from a point in time that is clearly not the present, but more like the late eighties or early nineties. Honestly the setting in certain scenes reminds me of the 1980’s scenes from the San Junipero episode of Black Mirror. Monáe fuses the future with movements from the past, from fashion and music, to feminism and free love. 

Her character’s relationship with Zen and Che are where we see flashes of the free love movement of the ’60’s and ’70’s, with traditional relationship dynamics being substituted for with non-judgmental love. This is possibly a critique of modern life that has since resigned free love to the “hippie” era of the US in favor of those traditional dynamics. Just two people instead of having poly-amorous love that can be empowering and freeing for all those involved, and the possibility that the future will bring poly-amorous love to the mainstream.

If you watch Dirty Computer, you know that the feminist and female empowerment messages are one of the main points. Monáe is not hiding her politics, instead making the continuance and strengthening of the feminist movement a key factor of what her idealistic future looks like. Even the dresses from the Desert scene are reminiscent of Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings that subtly portray vaginal like features. Monáe does not use subtly in her female forward message instead having an entire song dedicated to the power of the vagina. It is a callback to the past feminist movements, and a call for the dominance of  the future by the female forward policies espoused by those movements.

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