Animating the Green New Deal: “A Message from the Future with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez”

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This post considers the cultural work taken up in the animated short A Message from the Future with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (2019, dir. Crabapple, Lewis & Feeney). Understood here as creative practices that support dominant structures and ideologies, or which offer alternative ways of seeing, feeling, and acting in the world, “cultural work” operates at the intersection of art and politics (Banks, 2007). Presented by author and activist Naomi Klein, in association with the online news outlet The Intercept, the film illustrates what American society would look like, decades from now, when the Green New Deal has radically transformed not only our habitat but also our entire way of life.

In what follows, I examine the discursive strategies and practices employed by this animated film, with an eye toward evaluating the political value of “critical utopianism” (Ashcroft, 2007) in the face of climate catastrophe. Doing so, I consider how, and to what ends, this “media intervention” (Howley, 2013) into the politics of climate change taps a rich vein in utopian thought. Throughout, I highlight the vital but frequently overlooked role cultural workers play in articulating a radical and relentlessly hopeful vision for a more just, equitable, and sustainable society.