John Legend pulls into the parking garage of the hotel, sighing. He puts on his jacket as he walks into the employee lounge. He punches in with his timecard and notes his picture as Employee of the Month. In the kitchen, some of the employees are talking on their break. He takes a tray of appetizers off the counter.
On his way to the elevator, he turns to look at the television, which is on the local news covering the protest outside the hotel. He heads for the elevator and presses the button. A young woman plays the cello.
He steps into the lobby and listens as the reporter tries to make sense of the protest. Someone bumps him with a sign. Three police officers stand by the doors as the protestors face them, their signs pressed against the window.
In the restaurant, the white businessmen watch as the African-American man plays the piano during their meal. One openly wears his red “Make America Great Again” hat while the his colleague nods. He drops off the appetizers.
On the penthouse floor, he watches as a photo shoot with Chance The Rapper. Chance The Rapper bites on a rose. The women sitting next to him on the couch hold their roses and touch his shoulder.
Back on the first floor, the police prepare their riot gear. The protestors stream in, holding their signs reading “The Future is Female” and “Black Lives Matter.”
He walks into a penthouse suite and takes off his glasses, suit jacket and tie. He puts on a blue patched jacket and welcomes the protestors and his co-workers inside. They listen as he plays the piano.
The pianist from the restaurant opens the door and sees the businessman wearing his “Make America Great Again” hat. He drops it and the pianist lets him inside. Legend plays as his co-workers mingle with the young woman from the photo shoot. One of the young woman from the photo shoot passes by the police officer and puts her hand on his shoulder. She sits at the vanity applying lipstick.
In the unoccupied room, he stops playing and closes the curtain.
John Legend parks in the structure and heaves a sigh. Before his shift, he attended an interview for an office job. The interviewer looked him up and down then after a series of questions about his experience was told, “no, I don’t think this is going to work.” He wants out of the hotel and a stable job with reliable benefits. Somehow, it’s he’s cast aside during each interview, berated for trying to better himself.
Five days a week he goes to his job and views the hypocrisy around him in the wealthy area. The police officers watch the protestors through the windows, armed with tear gas. They talk through their radios, asking for backup. However, the protestors stay by the glass, continuing to chant.
In the restaurant, he sees the room full of white businessman listening to the African-American man play music. They comment on how good he is and then snicker, wondering if he has a dance routine to go with it.
Upstairs, he sees Chance The Rapper and it gives him hope. Over the past year, he has made a name for himself. However, his success has isolated him from the everyday person. He wonders if Chance The Rapper will get involved in the protest some way and perhaps use his platform to support them.
He plays a new song he wrote in the penthouse suite, visualizing all the people coming together. It’s a call for peace but as he closes the curtains, it will go unheard until people are willing to acknowledge minorities.
Director: N/A Year: 2017
Pam Avoledo’s love of pop culture began in 1999 with the message boards dedicated to shows on the CW (then WB). She graduated from Oakland University in 2006 with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism.
When she is not debating whether Dawson should’ve ended up with Joey, she looks at cute dog memes on social media.