“Sorry to Bother You” shines a spotlight on the power of a “white voice.”
“It’s just assuming what you feel is necessary to be accepted or feel like you’re part of the larger majority,” explained the film’s lead actor Lakeith Stanfield. “So, for us in America, white voice kind of fits that in a nice little package.”
The film follows a telemarketer named Cash Green, played by Stanfield, who uses a white voice to convince potential clients to join his company’s shady lifelong work program.
“I’ve seen people who I wouldn’t consider very intelligent people but because they spoke British, that kind of English, they were like, they’re so smart!” said actor Terry Crews, who is also in the film.
Cash’s success proves that the implicit bias of a white voice is enough to even make modern-day slavery sound charming. Co-star Omari Hardwick also offered some historical context of how white voice has masked cruel intentions.
“Imperialism was set up by people that didn’t sound aggressive,” he explained. “So for us to want to get some of that imperialism, some of that money, you can’t necessarily sound aggressive to the nonaggressive people. Their aggression is their ambition but they code it with different languages and things. Perception is reality.”
“Sorry to Bother You” hits theaters July.