The year is 2055 and “democracy is dead” in America. That’s the dark vision of the future that Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom are presenting as they make their film debut as a couple in Transmissions from the Future. Just over one minute long, the short flick is a desperate plea to voters to urge their senators to pass the For The People Act.
In the film released on June 17, Katy, 36, and Orlando, 44, don long grey wigs as they race to film a message to broadcast to Americans in 2021. “We’ve gotta tell them,” the pop singer says before they interrupt regular programming. “You are our only hope,” the British actor says in the video above. “The America you know doesn’t exist in our future. Democracy is dead. We have no voice. The regime watches our every move.”
“It started when voter suppression ran wild over America,” Katy says, driving home the point. “The voting rights bills died in the Senate. Polling places closed. We lost our right to vote.”
But Orlando tells the shocked 2021 Americans watching from Times Square in New York City, their sofas at home, and in workplaces across the U.S., that they can avoid this outcome. “This future doesn’t have to be,” he says. “You have the power to change it. Save democracy while you can.” “Call your senator now,” Katy adds. Then, in a nod to their 10-month-old daughter, before running away as SWAT team-like men try to ram the door, Orlando says, “Tell Daisy we love her.”
Produced by the non-partisan, not-for-profit organization RepresentUs and directed by Jake Kasdan, Transmission from the Future is released at a time when protecting the right to vote is a contentious issue. A snippet of Senator Joe Manchin being interviewed on TV appears in the film. The West Virginia Democrat – a moderate in a divided U.S. Senate that is split evenly between Republicans and Democrats – has been a thorn in his party’s side. To the frustration of his colleagues, he penned a June 6 op-ed vowing to vote against the For The People Act that was passed by the House in March. Also known as HR 1, the sweeping reform bill would end gerrymandering, ease voter restrictions and create an automatic voter registration system among other reforms.
But, in his piece for The Charleston Gazette-Mail, Manchin dashed hopes that he would vote for it in the Senate. “I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy, and for that reason, I will vote against the For the People Act,” wrote Manchin who consistently says he strives for bipartisanship.
The senator did note, however, that he would support passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which aims to prevent states from issuing racially discriminatory voting restrictions.
Both bills come at a time when Republican-led states throughout the country have either proposed or passed a slew of laws that make it harder to vote. “At least 16 mail voting restrictions in 12 states will make it more difficult for voters to cast mail ballots that count,” the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law reported in May 2021. In-person voting and harsher voter ID restrictions are among the other measures being put in place.