I like finding science fiction in odd places. Janelle Monáe is a genius. Think if the Archies had been a ska band with a funk lead singer. But she’s more than that. She’s also a brilliant storyteller. Her “Many Moons” reimagines the beginnings of science fiction cinema, Metropolis. She gives the silent film Metropolis the soundtrack it needed. For Janelle, Metropolis is about many androids now…and there are comments on slave auctions, blaxploitation, and the lack of freedom–for anyone. For women, for minorities, for humans in a world overcome by technology. There is no fear of androids in “Many Moons”—but even I would think that at the corners of the movie Monae makes, there is jealousy at the perfection of the androids, and even a bit of jealousy when Cindy Mayweather erupts in a spasm of freedom, or is it a spasm of realization that she is not free…. all I know is that she breaks loose and begins to dance, dance so high, that she short circuits. But the crowd is in ecstasy with her.
Monae has certainly looked here at humanity as commodity. She’s done it with brass. And artistry. She’s even mixed in a bit of Sesame Street.
I like finding science fiction in odd places. And this small film is beautiful. It’s got solid worldbuilding where she’s imagined, in one scene, the state of society. The characters all have the hint of well-developed backstories; they have desires, weaknesses, past confrontations. Cindy Mayweather grows as an android/character. Her growth, perhaps, comes from her realizations–of the names that keep her as Other. The names are not androidish—they are names leveled at minorities. Check out the Cybernetic Chantdown after the break.