Do you ever feel like simple issues in America are bogged down by politics? Rather than have an intelligent discussion, we are relegated to go at one another according to our chosen tribe. Sometimes you need to strip away everything and look at a subject from a fresh perspective. This is why I love foreign films. Writer-director Manu Luksch’s short film, Algo-Rhythm, gives us a fresh take on how the internet and social media are used in politics to influence and manipulate citizens.
Algo-Rhythm is, at its core, a music video, if not an outright musical. It was shot in Dakar and features a cast of Senegalese musicians, poets, and graffiti artists. I’d describe the music as African hip-hop (I’ve probably offended many people right now). The story takes place in the not-so-distant future, with a presidential election on the horizon. Each verse of the song focuses on how every candidate will use the Algo-Rhythm (data collected from the internet, primarily social media) to win the election.
One candidate plans to use the internet to spy on his constituents and mine their data to “read their minds.” Another candidate plans to use this data to find their opponents’ weaknesses, destroy them, and ultimately create discord in the country. The song then moves on to a wise leader of the community, who warns her followers that the internet is a weapon being used against them. She tells them Google is not their friend and to learn to act and think for themselves.
“…the internet and social media are used in politics to influence and manipulate citizens.”
Algo-Rhythm is a blend between live action and computer animation; very low-budget and crude animation. The style leans more toward a dystopian Max Headroom than traditional children’s animation. The graphics are primarily pixelized 3D presentations of our lead characters, the city, and a physical representation of the internet itself.
The film is an art piece with a tense, driving hip-hop beat. That tension works well to set the mood for its message. The visuals convey a community set on the precipice of a dystopian future. The tones are dark, and it combines computer graphics with graffiti art.
I implore you to look past the crude animation style and enjoy the music and the message (clearly, they don’t have Disney money) found in Algo-Rhythm. Honestly, I appreciated how Manu Luksch and his crew of artists could take a step back and force us to consider not only how the internet can destroy society but encourage us to free ourselves of the invasive tech that is slowly destroying our lives.
Algo-Rhythm screened as part of National Short Film Day and can be viewed on Film Movement Plus.
"…enjoy the music and the message..."