“Get Out” is smart, funny, and horrific, a must see
March 8, 2017
Filed under The Edge
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If you have not seen the movie “Get Out” by now, it would be advisable for you to get out and go see it. Without spoiling the movie, the following is a synopsis. Ultimately, “Get Out” is about a young black man (Daniel Kaluuya) who gets introduced to his white girlfriend’s (Allison Williams) parents after about five months of dating. Chris (Kaluuya) gets nervous about meeting Rose’s (Williams) parents due to the fact that she has failed to tell them that he is black. Eventually, Chris learns that Dean (Bradley Whitford), her father, is a neurosurgeon and Missy (Catherine Keener), her mother, is a therapist/hypnotist. To Chris’ relief, her parents are very welcoming, although really awkward at times. On a tour of the house, Chris finds out that the estate is taken care of by a grounds keeper named Walter (Marcus Henderson) and housekeeper named Georgia (Betty Gabriel), who are both black. Dean apologizes for perpetuating a stereotype of being a white, wealthy family with black servants. Dean assures Chris though that he would have voted for Obama in a third term.
Ultimately, Chris is invited to an annual family and friends gathering in which he is fortunate (or rather unfortunate) to meet many of Rose’s associates. The gathering is filled with many strange white individuals who cannot stop staring and making eccentric remarks regarding their attraction to Chris. Even the one other black guy at the party seems strange. Chris has some unusual encounters with Missy as well as other people within the estate.
At this point, it is advised for those who have not seen the movie to go see it and later return to this article. For those who have already viewed it, my analysis of the movie follows.
Jordan Peele, the director, should be applauded for this really smart, funny and horrific movie. While other reviews have made notice that “Get Out” shares commonality withother films, it is the first film I have seen (in my 21 years of being alive) that has depicted racism as a major aspect of a horror film. This is significant because as the United States has progressed, our discussion of racism (particularly white supremacy) has essentially been diluted with the words that we use. Diversity, race relations, implicitbias and the like get tossed around so much, one might get left with the impression that racism is simply a matterof social decorum. How one properly interacts with a member of another race. Quite the contrary, Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of “Between the World and Me,” reminds us that racism “dislodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs, cracks bones and breaks teeth.” In other words, racism is a visceral and physical experience, and “Get Out” lays that out beautifully. Brains are indeed dislodged, airways are definitely blocked, muscles are ripped, organs are extracted, bones are cracked and teeth are … (well maybe not the teeth). The point is, “Get Out” allows individuals to experience the everyday visceral nature of white supremacy.
“Get Out” flirts with the Duboisian concept of a double consciousness. At some point in the movie, black folks get hypnotized to a state where their consciousness is suppressed. Their mind is then made available to the highest bidder for exploitation. Literal mind control! In 1903, W.E.B. Du Bois wrote about the idea of the African-American identity being split into two parts. He wrote the following: “One ever feels his two-ness — an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” The idea of the double consciousness refers to the consistent struggle of being African while living in America. Two examples include the conundrum of black folks standing for the anthem and the burden of making white connections for economic survival. Black folks are often left wondering, “What if I do not want to stand for an anthem that disparages my ancestors (former slaves)” or “why should I be friends with someone who keeps using the n-word.” If black folk do not stand and are not making those relevant connections, their patriotism is questioned and the potential for economic viability is threatened. “Get Out” engages with all sorts of ideas surrounding the double consciousness through theexplicit image of the black mind being exploited by the white colonizer.
While “Get Out” has underlying themes that connect to everyday black people (this list is nowhere near exhaustive), the movie was ultimately enjoyable because it humanized black folks. It presented the opportunity for black folks to be scared. It allowed for the relationship between black trauma and white supremacy to be analyzed as opposed to the common inclination to dismiss black trauma as a pathology. In addition, it was suspenseful and humorous. Its 100 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating does not do enough justice to describe the quality of the work. “Get Out” should be praised, Jordan Peele should be thanked and you should go and see it.