"Black girl magic, ya'll can't stand it": On Afrofuturism and intersectionality in Janelle Monáe's Dirty Computer

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In early 2018, Janelle Monáe released her (now Grammy-nominated) studio album Dirty Computer. The album and accompanying ‘emotion picture’ (a short, emotionally evocative film), tell the story of ‘Jane,’ a young black woman who lives in an unnamed, futuristic dystopia. She and her friends are chased relentlessly by an organisation called “The House of the New Dawn,” which has started calling people ‘computers.’ If a ‘computer’ is deemed ‘dirty,’ they are taken to the House by force where they are then subjected to ‘The Nevermind,’ which causes them to forget everything they ever knew. The narrative is interspersed with songs from the album, and together they present and deal with themes of race, gender, and sexuality. Monáe is a feminist and activist, and her work is Afrofuturist. On top of this, the album is the first to not be part of her previous ‘Metropolis suites,’ and is instead about her as an artist as well as a person. The album, therefore, can be analysed for its feminist and activist contents. As the album deals with race, gender, sexuality, and the intersections between all three, this thesis employs Kimberlé Crenshaw’s intersectionality theory, and will explore what intersectional, activist message the Afrofuturist album carries out, and how.
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