It's a tale as old as time: Lift, enamored of Cassius, invites him to his elegant wood-paneled office to make an offer he can't refuse, and also to do some blow. Cassius takes the blow, but before Lift can make the offer, Cassius goes searching for a urinal to relieve himself, finding instead the fruits of Lift's efforts at splicing man with horse, which, once Cassius has recovered from his initial horror at the discovery, circles back to Lift's unspoken proposal. The twist's effect is a 50,000 watt jolt to the brain that lasts for the rest of the movie and forces us to reconsider every preceding plot point for the sake of comprehension and personal sanity.
Lift's shindig is Sorry to Bother You's fundamental sequence, where Riley shows us details of a world that's familiar, though fictional; it's a vivid, madcap satire of corporate capitalism and the many layers of American racism, and in directly linking the two, it's painfully obvious that to speak about them separately fails to understand the depth of either's problems. Of course "talking white" would propel Cassius to telemarketing's upper echelons. (Stanfield's white voice comes courtesy of David Cross, amplifying his declarative whiteness for profound comic effect.) In this narrative arc you see the union between America's greatest pastimes: bottomless greed and casually ingrained bigotry.
Riley, frontman of the Oakland hip-hop group The Coup, is a career anti-capitalist activist, so it makes sense that this movie would spring from that ideological framework. But the ways in which it brings home its anti-capitalist themes -- using sci-fi horror elements to drive the rest of the story after the shock of the equisapien (that's what the horse-human hybrids are called) reveal wears off -- feel fresh. Sorry to Bother You's strength lies in its ability to maintain the surprising nature of its twists and turns; even when we get to the film's final shot, we're still plagued by two pressing questions: How the hell did we get here? And what the hell did we just watch?
To begin answering that, we have to return to the proposal Lift offers Cassius, which hinges on a substance called WorryFree. Lift's company/indentured servitude machine has created a chemical compound that turns anyone who inhales it into beasts of burden. Lift wants Cassius to ingest that compound himself and live as the "equisapien Martin Luther King, Jr.," as Lift puts it, for five years, in exchange for $100 million and the promise of a cure for his transformation. He figures that Cassius -- in Lift's eyes a loyal go-getter type -- will be easy to control, and thus give him an inside man to keep WorryFree's equisapien workforce placated. Just a mundane American life of extravagant wealth, carried on in willful ignorance of the horrors required to make that life possible.