“I imagined many moons in the sky lighting the way to freedom.”
– Cindi Mayweather
Messiah: Cindi Mayweather
Messiah Level: Cyber
No pop star on Earth does it quite like Janelle Monáe. She has the voice. She has the moves. She has the clothes. She has the staggeringly beautiful science fiction epic. (“Wait, what?” I’m hearing you say. “In R&B?”)
The only thing wrong with this video is that it’s only six minutes long.
Her Metropolis albums chronicles the journey of her alter-ego, Cindi Mayweather, an android who has the misfortune of falling in love with a human. In Metropolis, androids are treated as little more than slaves (“She’s not even a person,” says caller Peggy Lakeshore in “Our Favorite Fugitive,” and the short film “Many Moons” chronicles an actual android slave auction). The punishment for this love is death, with her “cyber-soul” delivered to the authorities by bounty hunters and licensed hunters. Cindi, already becoming aware of the terrible conditions in which androids exist, flees — and, on the run, discovers that she is the ArchAndroid, the quasi-religious savior meant to rescue androids from slavery and apartheid. She becomes the “Electric Lady,” returning ready to save not only Metropolis, but humanity and androidkind, from the oppressive Great Divide, which despises love and freedom.
Seriously, try not to dance to this song. It’s impossible.
There are so few female messiah figures in SF/F, so the Electric Lady is extremely welcome — especially since Monáe takes the spotlight to draw attention not only to Metropolis’s fictional issues, but to the very real racial, societal and class-based challenges facing our world today. (Do we need a Cindi Mayweather?) She references Jim Crow as well as Philip K. Dick; her lyrics are poetic and intelligent, and the music itself is completely infectious. Her songs also work on a number of levels — you can listen to them casually and enjoy them quite a bit, or you can pick them apart to explore the multi-layered world Monáe has built.
Remember: Believe in the ArchAndroid.
We’ll be posting Janelle Monae videos on Twitter all day long.
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