GET OUT REVIEW: POST-RACIAL AMERICA

Written By: Blake Baker

** MILD SPOILERS **

So, by now you already probably know that Get Out is the greatest thing since sliced bread and Pornhub.

Yet why is the question and I’m going to tell you why. It’s because it’s the plausible black man’s nightmare of dating in white America. It’s that slow burning fear that we carry in the back of our minds about white girls’ parents as a black man. What Peele accomplished here is the perfect blend of comedy, real fear, and really, really, really subtle racism that is an everyday thing for us. Let’s dive in on why you should get in on Get Out, which I think is on it’s way to becoming a cult classic.

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Here’s the best part about Get Out, THE BLACK GUY DOESN’T DIE!!!! Yes, one of us actually survives and not like LL Cool J in Deep Blue Sea or Ice Cube in Anaconda. We all know that LL should have died and that Samuel L. Jackson should have survived. I’m still pissed about that damn scene; in the middle of a great fucking speech, that’s some bullshit. Back to the movie at hand, though. In the horror genre there’s usually only two outcomes for the “black guy”. He either dies within the first 20 minutes or he becomes the martyr for white survival. For example, both options kind of happen in the Dawn of The Dead remake (2004). Here we finally break the mold and it’s done in epic symbolic fashion.

***

We have the opening scene, which depicts the kidnapping of a brother in the suburbs trying to meet up with someone. Here’s the thing about the scene most people won’t even realize, it’s scary to us. You know what scares black people? Quiet streets, very few streetlights, extra clean sidewalks; essentially Whiteyville scares the shit out of us. I’m a converted Negro but still, when I see white people jogging around my neighborhood at night I’m like this why y’all get kidnapped. It sets the tone of very subtle clues into our fears as black folks.

Ok let’s fast forward… We meet Chris and his white girlfriend Rose, who seem to be both mid 20’s and at that point in life where you think might have met the one. Chris is a photographer who takes these pictures of really violent but almost still and peaceful moments. You have to pay attention to catch it but they’re actually cool images. On the other hand, we have no clue what the hell Rose does aside from having well off parents. I’m sure she also has 3 weeks worth of yoga pants, Uggs, and a Starbucks addiction. I mean, she is a white girl, it kind of comes with the territory. Anyway, it’s time to meet the parents and we start to get that Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner feeling. As a black man I know this feeling well. In previous relationships of mine, the fact that I’m black was a contentious point. It’s actually the only point to a lot of white dads in today’s world. So, clearly Chris is a bit worried about the situation he’s facing and rightfully so. White people can be scary. I mean, you’re spending a weekend in the woods with your girlfriend’s parents and they don’t know you’re black. Black people are already scared of the woods as it is, now throw in these other factors: that shit is terrifying.

On the drive into the middle of fucking nowhere Chris and Rose happen to hit and kill a deer. I found it interesting here that Chris has the need to go see the deer while it’s dying. Once the police show up, you can sense the tension for Chris being in this situation; he’s in the middle of nowhere with a white girl and the cops. This usually doesn’t end well for us, I mean, you’ve seen the news right? Of course the cop turns his attention to the standoffish black man who wasn’t actually driving. This is when Rose throws in her two cents and there’s actually no incident, but you see how uncomfortable the ordeal has left Chris. Soon Rose and Chris have arrived in the middle of nowhere and the Armitage’s couldn’t be more welcoming. They don’t bat an eye at the fact that here’s this dark brother like a shade off from Akon dark that’s planning on making mixed babies with their daughter. Mom is a hypnotherapist and dad happens to be a neurosurgeon, just two people who like getting into people’s heads. At this point there’s a subtle conversation about the deer that was killed and how Dad believes that they all need to go. He refers to them as bucks, and if you know your history, then you should know about buck breaking and black bucks. I’ll let you do that research on your own.

Then we meet the help, and there’s something off (like really off) but you just kind of accept it. I mean, these are the only black people around for miles, and we got Walter the landscaping Negro and Georgina the Aunt Jemima maid. They’re weird, almost zombie like, but just human enough to not to make Chris blurt out “what the fuck is up with these two?” At one point we see Chris sneaking out for a cigarette and find Walter in the middle of the night running towards him like he’s training for the combine. Then we see Georgina (seriously, that’s the blackest Mammy name ever) just fixing her hair in the window over and over again like on some OCD ish. Yet Chris is still like ok, maybe they just been stuck in the woods with these white folks and that’s why they’re like this. It unsettles him a bit, and he questions Rose about it, but she writes it off, and Chris just kind of accepts it.

***

Ahhh the subtle we love black people moments. After Rose and Chris arrive, we have this whole moment during Dad’s tour of the house where he goes on about his love of other cultures. He goes into full detail about his dad losing to Jesse Owens in the 1936 Olympic trials * and his pride in Jesse Owens winning in the face of Hitler. Of course none of this would be necessary if Chris were white. But we’re often stuck in these situations, and all we can do is smile and laugh about how much you like chicken and Kool Aid too. Chris’s only recourse here is to check to see if he’s bugging out or not and for that he goes to his boy Rod. Rod is what Rod is, and that’s the black man who’s scared of really white shit like hypnotism. Rod is concerned, but not too concerned to tell Chris to bring his black ass home at this point.
We soon find out that Rose’s parents are having this annual birthday bash for her grandfather. It’s the sort of party where rich white people eat finger foods and drink wine, although we do have one random Asian and a token brother that shows up. At this point even the friends of the Armitages seem really accepting of Chris aside from facing a few uncomfortable questions. People talk to him about Tiger Woods as a way to relate and rave about how “black is the new cool”. As black folks, we’ve all experienced this subtle racist moment where the person doesn’t even realize they’re being racist. Like hey, I can’t be racist I voted for Obama, but make sure you build that wall and put all them Mexicans behind it. It’s his interaction with the other token though that takes center stage. We realize it’s the brother that’s been kidnapped in the very beginning of the movie. There’s something off about him. He’s socially awkward, at least for a brother. After a brief talk, Chris takes a picture of him and it snaps him out of this awkward state for a moment. He rushes Chris and tells him to GET OUT before being quickly ushered away. This is when it sets in for Chris that something isn’t right in Whiteyville.

***

At this point the tone of the movie has shifted and the tension has turned to fear for Chris and for “us”. Chris finally realizes it’s time to GET OUT of Whiteyville, but it’s a little too late. I mean, you didn’t think these white folks were going to let their new best black friend just leave so easily, did you? Nope, they had something planned for his black ass and he finds out the hard way. Waking up in a basement which Dad happened to quickly gloss over during that tour I mentioned, Chris is strapped to a chair with only a mounted deer and a TV from 1962 staring at him. At this point it becomes very clear that Chris only has one option… kill whitey. Peele played this so well that you actually cheer for Chris taking these crackers out, even if you’re white.

***

It feels like a bit of vengeance for all the years that Hollywood has made us just expendable punch-lines. Peele also does something I don’t think I’ve ever seen before: he brings to the forefront an actuality of African American fear. This movie challenges white privilege from a dissident perspective, which is odd to do in pop culture. It shows that the ruling majority grants our so-called freedoms, but they can also take them away. The shit is truly petrifying. So much so that I’ve considered filing for divorce after seeing this movie. Also, I’m not ever going back to my in-laws for dinner. Mess around and just want to have a steak and end up in the “sunken place”. Nope, I’m good. I hope Peele continues down this road of taking social constructs and twisting them just a tad bit.

It’s good for the culture.

* Editors Note: Another African American, Ralph Metcalfe was the track and field sprinter who came in second place to Jesse Owens in the ’36 Olympics.

2 thoughts on “GET OUT REVIEW: POST-RACIAL AMERICA

  1. Great review, I’m sad it took me so long to see the film and read this piece. Excellent work.

    I’d just like to add, now that the film has been out for a while and that I’ve finally seen it, something about the film’s final moments. Spoilers, of course.

    When Chris and Rose are lying, bloodied, on the road and he apparently is unable to murder her despite everything the arrival of the cop car is shattering. The fact that Chris immediately surrenders, that Rose’s disingenuous calls for help feel like the greatest betrayal of all, that we, the audience, assume all has been for naught and our protagonist is doomed because he’s a black man dealing with the police, was one of the best things about this movie. All of the other sublime awkwardness of being “othered” through the lens of white, liberal, racism paled in comparison, for me, to a major motion picture letting me feel the visceral fear of that moment.

    I too hope Peele can spin more gold like this.

    Like

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