Landscape With Invisible Hand is an alien invasion story with a twist: a species known as the Vuuv take over the planet not by force but through economics. Their advanced technology allows them to live in floating cities with the human elite, while the rest of the population scrapes by on the surface. Because of this, some new ways of making money arise — including a very intimate form of livestreaming. Because the Vuuv do not have romance like humans, they’re obsessed with watching young couples broadcast their lives, tipping generously along the way.
For Tiffany Haddish, who stars in the film, part of the appeal was that the premise didn’t seem that far-fetched. “I really love [director and writer Cory Finley] a lot, I love his work,” she explains. “He has done some amazing things over the years. And when I read it, I really wanted to do it because I thought, ‘That seems like it could be possible.’”
Note: this interview was conducted before the current Hollywood actors strike.
“I really wanted to do it because I thought, ‘That seems like it could be possible’”
The movie is set in the 2030s, and Haddish plays Beth, the mother of a budding artist named Adam (Asante Blackk). Eventually, Adam is reluctantly pulled into a livestreaming gig by his new girlfriend Chloe (Kylie Rogers). Before the alien invasion, Beth was a successful lawyer but now finds herself with little work in Earth’s new reality. She’s lucky by the standards of most of humanity — the family still has their home — but things are rough. So when the money starts rolling in from the livestreams, she’s forced to rely on the income. Later on, she ends up having to make an even harder choice (I won’t spoil it here) in order to keep her family afloat.
“She has all of this education, all of this knowledge, but the way society is set up — which is kind of like reality — it’s very hard to achieve success,” Haddish says of her character. “And in order to do that, sometimes you have to go against what you might stand for. And sometimes you just have to say ‘You know what? I ain’t doing it at all. I’d rather suffer.’”
Despite being set in the near future where humans are largely subservient to creatures that look like uncooked turkeys, most aspects of Landscape With Invisible Hand feel very probable. The livestreams aren’t all that different from what you might see on Twitch or Instagram Live. Couples go out on dates and always try to show their best selves in order to encourage tips and donations. Streamers wear broadcasting devices fixed to their temples, and livestreams can be turned on instantly. It’s sci-fi right now, but after a few product revisions, it could also be something you might buy in the next decade.
“I think science fiction is great for exploring contemporary issues, but also it’s great to prepare people for the future.”
As popular as the world of streaming is right now, for Haddish, it’s somewhat new territory. “I don’t get it,” she says. “My niece introduced me to Roblox, and watching people do their thing. I get bored — I want to do it. Why am I watching you do it? I can’t sit down and watch somebody play games that aren’t physical.”
That said, she does believe that sci-fi is the perfect vehicle to explore modern problems, like the cultural transformation that comes from new technology like streaming. “I think science fiction is great for exploring contemporary issues, but also it’s great to prepare people for the future,” she explains. “If you watch Star Trek, a lot of things that people did on that show are what we are doing now. I’m just waiting for them to beam me up.
As for Landscape With Invisible Hand’s vision of livestreaming? “I think we live there already,” Haddish says. “And the aliens probably are watching.”
Landscape With Invisible Hand is in theaters now.