Do you ever feel like simple issues in America are bogged down by politics? Rather than have an intelligent discussion, we are now relegated to go at one another according to our chosen tribe. Sometimes you just need to strip away everything and look at a subject from a fresh perspective…which is why I love foreign films. Manu Luksch’s short film, Algo-Rhythm, gives us that fresh take on how the internet and social media are being used in politics to influence and manipulate its 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 each candidate will use the Algo-Rhythm (i.e., 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 destroy her opponent—to find their weakness, destroy them, and ultimately create discord in the country.

“…warns her followers that the internet is a weapon being used against them…”

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, that Google is not their friend, and to learn to act and think for themselves.

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.

Algo-Rhythm is an art piece at its core. The music is a tense, driving, hip-hop beat and that tension works too 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 would implore you to look past the crude animation style and enjoy the music and the message (clearly, they don’t have Disney money). Honestly, I appreciated how Manu Luksch and his crew of artists in Algo-Rhythm 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.

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