I saw Get Out a little later than everyone else, but I did manage to see it in the theatre. And yes, that was purposeful. A few friends mentioned they wanted to hear my opinions on it after my viewing. Well, when I left the show (in Chicago we call the movies ‘the show’) I was so angry I couldn’t formulate my words right.
I took my daughter, who’s a graduating high school senior this year, with me as a girl’s night out. She attends a diverse school where there’s a substantial population of Latinx, white and some Chinese students as well. I’m happy for her that she gets to know and learn diverse backgrounds early in her maturation, before heading off to college to further explore this world.
I present that as a foreground to how we saw the movie so vastly different, and not just due to age.
Get Out pissed me off. I mean, blood pressure raising, headache giving, sho nuff made me mad. I believe that Jordan Peele’s purpose in the movie was to show the hardships of being African American, in a different venue that may be more readily received by multiple ethnicities. Horror is not genre I watch (at all) but it’s popular enough across ethnicities that you’d get a wide audience.
My whole summation of this movie is: They want to be us, without the burden of being us.
Darker skin, stronger bodies, coolness, athleticism, creativity; these are straights mentioned by the characters at the “auction”. And make no mistake, you can wrap it up with bingo cards, but it was an auction nonetheless. One woman had the audacity to touch Chris and I about leapt out of my chair! And while we may chalk it up to “it was just a movie”, how many African Americans have felt ‘sized up’ when we walked into a room full of whites? Had conversation stop upon entering that same room? Had someone invade our personal space by trying to touch our hair without permission? We’ve had to deal with the micro aggressions of ‘well, they are just built differently’ when their team loses a game to our team. Then there are the macro aggressions of “he probably got in because of affirmative action”, and not his 4.0 G.P.A. and stellar references.
I think this is Peele’s look into the hypocrisy of wanting the attributes of the very people you marginalize and sometimes dehumanize. As I’m putting it “they want to be us, without the burden of being us”. Taking the best, but remaining in privileged bodies. I was furious. My daughter, however, was not as enraged as I. She’s only had good racial experiences in her high school. Friends sharing experiences going to quinceaneras and back yard bar b ques at each other’s respective neighborhoods. Sharing coffee and homemade tamales. Bringing each other candy from Chinatown, and those little frosted cookies sold in the hood. Hers is a ‘United Colors of Benetton’ experience and I’m mostly glad about it. She felt Rose was crazy, and that some mental illness must run in her family (not altogether untrue). She was able to view it as a movie, not unlike the Matrix or Thor, where there are villains and good guys and you always root for the good guys. She didn’t internalize it like I did. She’s attending a PWI in the fall, and I imagine (and simultaneously dread) that her views will change over the next year or two. Maybe they won’t; I’d love to be wrong about that. But I’ve lived long enough to know the world of “they want to be us, without the burden of being us”, and I’ve known the ones of us who so desperately wanted to be them, they put away all semblance of what makes us beautiful in the first place. And I get pissed off about both. Still.
Let me not forget to praise the acting. The actors were intense and subtle and impressive. Being able to showcase fear, longing and desperation only using their eyes was Oscar level acting in my opinion. Betty Gabriel, the woman who played Georgina, should get some special “Eyes Only” Golden Globe because I felt everything she didn’t say the entire move. Personal love to Bradly Whitford, only because I’m a diehard West Wing fan and it was good to see him acting again.
Get Out is worth seeing. I will take my son to see it, and gage his reactions as a burgeoning young black man to see if it’s any different. And I’ll buy a copy to watch over Christmas break after my daughter returns home from her first semester at college. As I said, I’m half hoping she does feel the same, and half hoping she doesn’t.
What did you think? Post in the comments and let’s discuss!