author – activist – faculty – mom
In Daniel Jose Older’s recent BuzzFeed article, Diversity Is Not Enough: Race, Power, Publishing, he says “the publishing industry looks a lot like these best-selling teenage dystopias: white and full of people destroying each other to survive.”
But Alex Rivera’s near future dystopic film Sleep Dealers the future looks much more like the present: the US economy depends upon immigrant labor, but generates a backlash against immigrant participation in other parts of the society. Filmmaker Rivera, whose father is an immigrant from Peru, uses the film to imagine “the telecommuting immigrant, where in the future the borders are sealed, workers stay in the [global] South, and they connect themselves to a network through which they control machines that perform their labor in the North.” As Rivera witnessed the growth of “call centers of India and in the idea of off-shoring information-processing jobs that could be done in real time by people on the other side of the planet.” He decided to make a film that “goes further by putting forward a vision of remote manual laborers.”
In the film, workers are literally plugged into machines with wires that make them appear to be marionettes. Through the technology, their motions are mirrored by robots in the US who pick fruit, build skyscrapers, and even nanny children.
In a previous post, on KQED Pop, I challenged our current preoccupation with historical and futuristic storytelling. I questioned why we have so much trouble being in the now. But I also said “futuristic/dystopic/paranormal stories are of great value, and have much to tell us about the human condition.” Sleep Dealer is a perfect example.
Recently, the twitter hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks went viral and continues to spawn organizing and initiatives among authors, readers, editors, agents, booksellers, and others. But, in addition, in an era where even a funny video of cats on the internet can draw a greater audience than most fiction, #WeNeedDiverseFilms. I hope people will vote flex their consumer muscles & download SleepDealer from iTunes today. Not only will it show that #WeNeedDiverseFilms, but that we’re also willing to support them.