Jordan Peele’s first film as a writer and director, Get Out (2017) is a comprehensive social commentary disguised as an American horror film. Chris’ white girlfriend Rose is ready for him to meet her parents upstate. As a black man, Chris has concerns about what Rose’s parents will think of their relationship, but Rose assures him that they’ll be loving and accepting. The situation becomes increasingly fishy as the visit goes on until Chris realizes he is in mortal danger because of his race. The movie makes a couple powerful points about racism in America and the power dynamic involved. Horror movie main characters are seldom black, and Get Out uses this to turn Othering on its head. As the viewer accepts Chris as filling the protagonist role, the movie doesn’t grant many humanizing traits to the Armitage family. They are creepy from the start, and they easily fill the role of being the movie’s monsters. While black people have been Othered in America since its very beginnings, the movie puts rich white people in this position. The intention seems to be to show white viewers who may feel uncomfortable that this is the reality black people have experienced throughout history.
The Armitage family still holds the power in the movie to the point where Chris has to kill or be killed. While violence is often glorified in many aspects of American culture, it is typically quickly stifled and criticized when used as a means of social resistance. Get Out does a great job making the viewer feel Chris’ desperation, and in doing so challenges real-life views on black resistance while drawing a parallel to the level of desperation black people often feel in terms of racial justice in America. In one particular scene, Chris experiences the “horror” of a large get-together of rich white people. Many of the guests make what appear to be micro-aggressive racial remarks toward Chris. While bothered, he does his best to smile and shake it off. As is later revealed, these micro-aggressions were actually related to a despicable, violent, and racist plot. Get Out is making the real-life point that even the most seemingly harmless racial remarks we still hear in modern society are inextricably rooted in a violent racial power dynamic that at one point in history had resulted in slavery itself. Get Out is a powerful satire with a plot that is chillingly entertaining in its own right. If you’re a fan of horror films and want to apply tools and concepts we learned in this class to more literature, I recommend you watch it!