SPOILERS AHEAD! Don’t @ me.
Over the weekend, Jordan Peele’s thriller Get Out scared audiences all over the nation with that age old American horror: anti-Black racism. The premise is simple enough: a white girl, Rose, brings home her Black boyfriend, Chris, to meet her parents in a wealthy, white suburb in upstate New York.
Of course, the film takes a wild turn when it turns out that Rose’s parents are the heads of a Black people abduction and re-sale business and Chris is their next target. Rose’s dad, a neurosurgeon, and her mom, a hypnotist, are responsible for transplanting white people into the bodies of Black people—subduing their souls in “the sunken place” so that white folks can enjoy what they believe are the “physical advantages” of a Black body.
Get Out is absolutely chilling as scenes of racial discomfort between Chris and Rose’s family morph into an opportunity for white people to size Chris up for their various needs: one man wants his body for its ability to play golf; another wishes he had Chris’s ability as a photographer.
Certainly, however, none of these people would see themselves as racist—Rose’s father “would have voted for Obama for a third term!” Jordan Peele thus reveals the pernicious racism behind white liberals, who may celebrate the Black body, Black music, Black accomplishments, and yet still cannot see Black people as autonomous and human.
While the crazy plot of Get Out is obviously untenable, the very real fact of white violence and desire for ownership of the Black body is nothing new, and the movie is no more horrifying than the history of lynching and American chattel slavery. Because these sentiments creep along in American political and social institutions, Get Out is all the more disturbing as a fantastical reincarnation of our racial past.
This movie does an excellent job at navigating the strange and humiliating ways that Black men must face interpersonal racism when interacting with white people—and I think an excellent follow up would be exploring the unique challenges that Black women face in these awkward and uncomfortable situations.
In addition, the part I found most terrifying in the movie was not the gore, or the suspense, or the use of symmetry—it was in the final moments of the movie when Chris calls the police and I had to ask myself: will this end like so many other encounters between Black men and police? In this universe where hypnotism and body snatching are the name of the game, things almost got too real for me when faced with the possibility that Chris might not defeat evil after all, that he might be killed for looking suspicious and dangerous.
I was truly scared.
Thankfully, much to my relief, Chris makes it through the film and is saved, not by a white person, but by his goofy friend Ron the TSA agent. Black people are saving Black people in this movie, yelling “Get out!” just as one might yell at a movie screen.
Watch the trailer below:
Photo Credit: YouTube