“Top of the Heap" : a Crucial Work of Afrofuturism

A streaming recommendation from the New Yorker's Richard Brody: Christopher St. John's 1972 film Top of the Heap.

A Black police officer (Christopher St. John) faces racism in real life and walks on the moon in his fantasy life in the 1972 drama Top of the Heap. Photograph from Everett.

If you're looking for a film recommendation, the New Yorker's Richard Brody highly recommends Christopher St. John's 1972 Top of the Heap. The feature follows Black police officer George Lattimer's struggles with his fellow officers and his frustrations with the community he serves viewing him as a threat. As a form of escape, Lattimer sinks into fantasies of working for NASA as an astronaut - but even in space, he can't quite escape the discrimination that plagues his daily life.

"These extended and extravagant outer-space elements and their earthly phantasmagoria turn “Top of the Heap” into a crucial work of Afrofuturism—and, just as in the work of Sun Ra, whose assertions that “Space Is the Place” acutely suggest the failings of Earth for black people..."- Richard Brody