Tag Archives: Metropolis

Quoted: Janelle Monáe on Music and Being The Other

Excerpted by Latoya Peterson

Janelle Monae

“My mother was a janitor, my father drove a trash truck and my stepfather still works at the post office.  So I grew up with a family determined to make something out of nothing by working very hard,” says Monáe. “They inspired me to follow my dreams, to create music for the working men and women who are coming up against life’s obstacles and need to be uplifted.  Music found me – this was my purpose.  So when I was 11 years old, I sat my parents down and told them what I wanted to do and that they must all get on board.” […]

Heavily inspired by Fritz Lang’s 1927 German expressionist film Metropolis, which used an urban dystopia to berate capitalism, she too has invented a not-too-distant future in order to comment on the confines within she is expected to perform and present herself as a black female artist. “As an African-American woman, as an immigrant, wherever I am, I’m always the minority,” she explains.  “So I came up with the concept of the android as the ‘other’ in society.  I’ve been studying the theory of technological singularity, which predicts that as advances in technology become faster, there will come a point when robots will be able to map out the brainpower of humans and recreate our emotions.  I’m posing the question – how are we going to live with the ‘other’?  Are we going to treat them inhumanely, teach our children to fear them?”

—“Watch This Space,” Arise Magazine, Issue 11

(Image Credit: Arise/Matthew Brodie)