Despite my playful title, the topic I want to discuss is rooted in a deeply woven sense of fear, derived from my understanding—or lack thereof— of Guardians. When I first learned about the twisted nature of the Guardians I remember asking myself, “Why am I so bothered ?” (especially after the peak of my disturbance in The Fifth Season relating to the Guardian Timay). After some reflection—and constantly revisiting the novel—I was able to narrow my unrest resulting from two key behaviors that Guardians demonstrate: constantly smiling and expressing their love for orogenes. In this blog post I’ll explore the act of smiling.
Janelle Monae’s visual album shows the everyday problems people of color face in a way that fuses past and present. The visual album consisted of a series of music videos that contributed to the overall story or theme. Continue reading “Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer”
Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer is set in the future. It is a time where differentiating qualities are not valued. If you are “dirty” you get stripped off your memories of the past and become “clean”.
Continue reading “Afrofuturism in Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer”
This video was quite confusing at first, as the viewers of the film are thrown into this sci-fi world. I believe that this video does a fantastic job of fusing past and present through its lyrics and visualizations on the screen. Jane 57821 is almost being held prisoner by this organization that believes that her individuality is a threat to there society. This is very similar some may say to what society is like today, in that many people have unique experiences, feelings and abilities that make them special. However many people want to suppress that individuality in hopes that many people will conform to one common mindset. This is represented in the film, in the secret organization trying to wipe all of her memories with the “nevermind” gas. Jane try’s to fight this system because she doesn’t want to forgot her friend and her love Zen. She attempts to go against the powerful organization however Zen argues for her to just follow along and do what she is told. This futuristic world holds many parallels to the past because throughout our history, society changes with people that decide to go against the normal or expected. This includes the way that African Americans are treated and the way the homosexual people have been treated. I thought the short film does a great job of merging on over arching concept into two different time periods.
I first learned about the concept of the Uncanny Valley in a class I took with Professor Kirsh (psychology) called Parenting in the Zombie Apocalypse. One of the very first things we covered was why zombies, and other monsters found in the genre of horror, are scary to us. Besides their physical danger to living humans and their mindless pursuit of wiping out all of humanity, zombies are simply creepy because their appearance falls in the Uncanny Valley.
When I read both passages by Butler and Jemisin I immediately got the central idea of religion being a driving force behind the idea of afro futurism. They don’t necessarily fit with the idea of sci-fi or advanced technology in my opinion but I think that how the black community is today is what writers of the past would consider to be afro futurism. In Jemisins story, it uses the idea of keeping the same culture within black communities but now they are even more based on religion. What seems normal in modern day New York may be considered abstract and futuristic to previous generations. Many of the previous generations practiced in superstition, especially in Africa. Superstition is found to clash with religion in Jemisins piece just as it might have back when it was introduced early on. In Butlers excerpt, religion is used as sort of “ends justifying the means”, using scriptures to justify things like violence in order to protect their own property.
In watching the Janelle Monae film I found some parallels with the Lorde essay and I was a bit confused but it made me think about the roe of women within the idea of afro-futurism. In the Lorde essay she mentioned that Malcolm X had altered and broadened his opinions concerning the role of women in society and the revolution and the Janelle monae video featured primarily black women, making me wonder how effective women are in revolutions across the board and what they mean to the idea of afrofuturism. Lorde herself demonstrated the strength of black women through afro futurism. I believe her greatest contribution to the idea of afrofuturism was the continuation of the idea of black women being strong and outspoken and furthermore she adopted the idea of non conformity.” Either I denied or chose between various aspects of my identity, or my work and my Blackness would be unacceptable. As a Black lesbian mother in an interracial marriage, there was usually some part of me guaranteed to offend everybody’s comfortable prejudices of who I should be. That is how I learned that if I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive. My poetry, my life, my work, my energies for struggle were not acceptable unless I pretended to match somebody else’s norm.”
There is a popular saying that often arises when analyzing an author’s work, and I think its meaning applies well here; “The author is dead”. This phrase means that the author’s work should be analyzed separately from their own interpretation of their work, and that the reader’s interpretation is the most important to consider given that it is a work created with the intention of being analyzed by others.
In this case, you and all others should feel safe in not allowing the actions of a creator to affect their opinion of their creations, after all the sins of the father are not the sins of their sons. That being said, you should also be careful to understand the subtext of their creations and not allow them to justify the infringement of people’s rights.
I can enjoy H.P. Lovecraft’s stories while also understanding the bigoted position from which they were written. For me, it acts as a reminder of our own shortcomings, and is a call to aspire to be better myself. The fear of the unknown, while tied to the fear of those that are different from you, is not synonymous with the fear of people that are different, thus I am able to enjoy his horror without wallowing in hatred of minorities. It is your interpretation of the piece that matters, rather than the implied subtext.
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. Continue reading “Retrofuture of Dirty Computer”
I have long struggled with the concept of Afrofuturism although I have had it defined for me several times. I think that the issue for me is understanding the real world application* of the Afrofuturist philosophy. I warn that I will present no answers here, indeed I possess none, yet I will ask quite a few questions. Additionally, I hope I do not offend any Afrofuturists or anyone for that matter, with my questions–they come from a place of ignorance not malice.