Do you like movies that help you see a new perspective or better understand a situation in your life? Some consider this an emergent genre of entertainment, “transformational entertainment. The Global Alliance of Transformational Alliance (GATE) was formed in 2009 to support the creation and distribution of content that expresses a transformational worldview. GATE’s Dara Marks says transformational stories show us how people like ourselves (i.e., characters), grow and change (i.e., transform) in relationship to how they face life’s trials (i.e., plot).
While this is true in a general sense, I like to think of transformational entertainment as taking the green pill. Simply through the experience, we better understand the nature of industrial civilization and how it constrains our choices, our blind spots, and/or how to best shape and support the shift that is occurring.
The recently resurrected Latino Sci-Fi thriller Sleep Dealer is clearly transformational. The Sundance award winning film presents a world of closed borders with high-tech factories that literally plug migrant workers into the network to operate machines remotely in the United States. In this dystopian future, Mexican workers in Tijuana factories remotely operate robots in the United States that do construction, landscaping, fruit picking, and other tasks commonly performed by migrant workers.
The film shows us something not portrayed in standard Sci-Fi fare, the future of Global South, which is particularly noteworthy given that the Global South itself is in our blind spot. The film shows a future where one’s choices, opportunities and constraints are determined by whether one is plugged into the network.
It is a future where the campesinos who work the land are forced to buy water from the corporations that built the dams. It is a future where U.S. reality television follows and celebrates the strikes of drones that destroy homes and lives of people in other countries. It is a future where seemingly the only way to survive is to move to the city and physically plug into the network.
The future Mr. Rivera presents is not only striking in its discord from what anyone wants but also in its similarities to what is happening today.
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