What: The short film Natural History Museum
Who: Director/animator Kirsten Lepore
Why we care: Last year, Belvedere Vodka launched an initiative with singer and actor Janelle Monáe to help uplift and showcase filmmakers who aren’t of the male and/or white persuasion. The campaign, A Beautiful Future, challenged three filmmakers—Janicza Bravo, Lacey Duke, and Kirsten Lepore—to create short films depicting their vision of what that would look like.
And Lepore’s beautiful future includes floating brains and buffalo wings.
Lepore’s stop-motion short film Natural History Museum opens with two modern-day humans at a museum marveling at how primitive life used to be. Suddenly, they become the exhibit for two humanoid aliens who have no idea what a cell “pone” is or any concept of gender identity: “My grandma maybe mentioned it once? I think it’s some sort of chromosomal abnormality that separated humans into two camps.”
Those humanoid aliens turn into an exhibit for floating brains who can’t believe that “humans used to make assumptions about each other’s brains based on the appearance of their body.” And then, you guessed it, those brains are the subject of wonder for a bodiless entity that’s trying to understand the concept of having separated consciousness: “People used to have to blindly imagine how others felt based on their own experiences . . . how primitive.”
Natural History Museum pushes time forward on a vast scale to underscore the immediate failings we have as humans today—a point that’s even more defined within the context of museum of artifacts. In the finale stage of “humanity,” there is no judgment based on trite constructs around gender or body type. Empathy isn’t skewed or limited because it’s based on the restrictive viewpoints of individuals—rather, it’s something that’s innate because we’re all the same.
But contemporary humanity isn’t completely garbage. We do have buffalo wings, after all.