Pool Party Pilot Episode
Pool Party Pilot Episode shows a speculative vision taking cues from Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s novel Herland and Elaine Morgan’s aquatic ape hypothesis, particularly parts where the authors describe male fears of their surroundings. Herland describes the encounter of three men with an isolated society composed entirely of women, who reproduce via parthenogenesis. The aquatic ape hypothesis aims to redress traditional evolutionary theories by focusing on the evolution of female bodies. —Hardeep Pandhal
The narrative of Hardeep Pandhal’s film—commissioned for the 2018 New Museum Triennial ‘Songs for Sabotage’—is delivered through its backing track, the artist’s lackadaisical rap hovering over strange, off-kilter beats. Reaching the surreal heights of the most fantastical Kool Keith lyric, Pandhal’s narration for Pool Party Pilot Episode builds its fantastic setting: a world in which women thrive after learning to reproduce asexually. The few men still living—bearded, floating spermatozoa, drifting through a world in which they are now disposable—resent this new matriarchal world order, becoming paranoid and restless, and ultimately deciding to take action against it.
Watching the film in an era becoming defined by an increasing visibility of extremist beliefs—men’s rights activists, incels or Infowars-style conspiracists among them—Pandhal’s film provides a parable for a future in which patriarchal society is reduced to rubble. Tapping into animation’s subversive potential for satire and cultural criticism, as well as its proclivity for the indecent and risqué, Pool Pilot Party Episode provokes questions about the fundamental aspects of contemporary society that are often taken for granted, a song for sabotage if there ever was one. —Herb Shellenberger