Boots Riley hit theaters this summer with Sorry to Bother You, a striking anti-capitalist, pro-labor, horse people narrative that will make you second guess your Amazon prime account and ponder, for hours, how Armie Hammer could represent such evil and yet look so fine at the same time.
Riley begs to differ. In a three-page rebuttal, the Oakland native argued that Detroit is sufficiently independent and untethered from the main character Cassius played by Lakeith Stanfield. “She engages in actions and projects that have nothing to do with Cassius, and the things she does or believes are not the thing that makes Cassius change,” he defends. “Detroit is not a prize to be won in this movie. She fucks who she wants because she wants to and when she wants to.”
He goes on to assert that Detroit is far from a Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope, and though the film doesn’t pass the Bechdel test (a measure for evaluating the presence of women in a film), he argues that she’s more feminist than other women characters in movies that do pass.
Riley’s argument falls a bit flat, since he claims Thompson’s character is superior to others because she doesn’t spend all her time talking about men, even though the test explicitly evaluates whether or not women talk about things other than men. Basically, a film that passes the Bechdel test couldn’t feature women who only talk about their romantic relationships or other things they’re “supposed” to as Riley suggests, but *shrug.*
“I will put Detroit up against most of the movies that do pass the Bechdel test and will confidently say that most of them will not have a character close to as radical or feminist as she is,” he writes.
Thompson backed Riley with her own tweet, writing “the hat trick with any supporting character, no matter how well drawn they are—is they should leave an audience wanting to know more about them.”
The film received generally positive reviews, and even critics of Detroit have expressed their overall enjoyment of Sorry to Bother You. Still, it never hurts to ask for more fleshed out representations of women (and also why weren’t there any horse ladies?).