After seeing the preview for the movie Get Out for the first time on Facebook, I knew I had to take a trip during Spring Break to see it. Finally, amidst the major racial controversies that were popping up around the country, especially the ones fueled by the new person in the White House, someone had dared to make a movie in a modern time setting that brought up racial issues. Not even the traditional alt-right or southern redneck racism, but middle-class liberal “I’d vote for Obama for a third term if I could” racism. Of course, the whole plot is a metaphor and while we would hope that this does not actually occur somewhere in a hidden hollow in the States (although anything is possible right?), the message underlying it is incredibly well presented.
The writer-director of the movie, Jordan Peele, is most widely known for being in the Comedy Central series Key & Peele. Now, he has set a record for being the first African American writer-director to hit a $100 million debut in box office, and Get Out has not even been out for a month! Who knew a comedian could bust out such a dark and well structured movie that captured the nation this strongly?
***SPOILER ALERT STARTING NOW***
(the use of ‘white’ and ‘black’ are not meant to be derogatory in any way)
Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), a young black photographer who has been dating Rose (Allison Williams), a cute innocent white girl, faces slight insecurities when he is finally invited to meet Rose’s parents after 5 months together. In most interracial relationships, the question of acceptance always lingers until you actually confront the family. The trip is set and they embark on the journey to Rose’s home, which is conveniently in the middle of nowhere.
En route, Chris and Rose hit a deer and when the officer showed up, some of the stereotypical police mincroaggressions towards people of color that we often hear stories about came out. Once they arrive at the house, Chris notices the black groundskeeper and they are greeted by the parents. The dad (Bradley Whitford) and the mom (Catherine Keener) are awkward but welcoming at the same time, and Rose brushes them off as ‘weird’. The dad gives Chris a tour of the house, which features a picture of the beloved late grandfather, who almost won the Olympics, but was beat out by Jesse Owens. The dad says the grandfather “almost got over it”, and it leaves you wondering what was done to get revenge. When they get to the basement, the dad skips over it and says something similar to “there is black mold down in the basement”… Sketchy, right?
At dinner, Rose’s brother joins them (Caleb Landry Jones) and questions Chris about his athletic abilities because he is black, tall, and has a strong physique, and by stereotype, he is expected to partake in some sort of sport. They are notified that a traditional family get-together is happening the next day in memory of the grandfather, to which Chris and Rose were not notified ahead of time for, and Chris’ habit of smoking comes up. Rose’s mom tells him she can hypnotize him and get him out of the habit, but Chris refuses. Later that night, he goes out for a cigarette and encounters the groundskeeper running crazily at night, and catches the maid also looking at herself in the mirror. Confused and startled, he goes inside and finds the mom. Against his will and with the help of the sound of a spoon moving around a tea cup, she manages to hypnotize him and put him in a “sunken place”, training his psyche to stand down and watch the outside passively. She now has complete control over him whenever she has the cup and spoon. Chris, however, no longer smokes, which is a good way to stop damaging his body and preserve him to auction his body off to put someone else’s brain in to control his body.
At the family event the next day, there are several elder white family friends (with the exception of one Asian man) that arrive. Rose goes around and introduces Chris, and with each couple they encounter, a different question or comment is made towards him with racial undertones. One lady with a sick husband in a wheelchair asked Rose if sex was actually better as everyone said and another commented on how black is becoming the next great thing. These commentaries are not done in harm to offend Chris, although they do and they dehumanize him as well, but they are genuine comments and curiosities that middle-class white people tend to have. The typical racism dynamic actually gets turned around and he becomes more and more uncomfortable with their behavior toward him. The Asian man, who asks Chris “is the African-American experience an advantage or disadvantage?”, is actually wanting to know to consider if being black is actually better than Asian. Both blacks and Asians are not seen as white or ‘full American’, and Asians are actually a smaller minority than black demographic-wise, but Asians will always be considered ‘foreign’ and often take on the stand of white supremacy and anti-blackness in order to be “more white”. Reference the racial triangulation theory to understand better. Blacks, at least compared to Asians, are more traditionally seen as insiders of the States and his curiosity is just his inner struggle to see if switching bodies with Chris would be worth experiencing the anti-blackness but no longer experiencing xenophobia.
Chris gets auctioned off to an old blind white photographer who is excited to have Chris’ eyes, young and beautiful body, and marvelous photography skills. He is tied up and hypnotized downstairs in the basement and is made to watch a video explaining the body switching process that he is going to be a part of. Ironically using cotton from the inside of a sofa to block out the noise of the cup and spoon, Chris manages to escape his doomed future operation and murders everyone in the family, successfully fleeing the scene when his TSA best friend Rod shows up in his squad car.
Although the movie is classified as a ‘scary’ movie, the only thing scary about the movie (besides a few jump scares) is the fact that the whole switching bodies/minds process was discovered and it actually worked because white people want the physical capabilities that black people have, but still treat them as inferior to them. The movie portrays the fears that black people have when dealing with racism in liberal white America, even if white people do not mean to harm or dehumanize them, which probably (and hopefully) serves as an awakening to many that went and watched it.