Dirty Computer opens with an ominous voiceover spoken by Monáe, who coldly informs us of the bleak reality we’re about to enter. “They started calling us Computers,” she intones. “People began vanishing – and the Cleaning began. You were dirty if you looked different. You were dirty if you refused to live the way they dictated. You were dirty if you showed any form of opposition at all.”
The mini-film is neatly structured around a narrative spine involving two anonymous white male workers erasing her memories, the movie occasionally cutting to those “memories,” which are individual music videos for the album’s singles. And what quickly becomes clear is that Jane has been designated for cleaning because of her verboten lesbian romance with Zen, a free-spirited beauty played by Thor: Ragnarok star Tessa Thompson.