Get Out: The Real Horror of Being Black in America
"To be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage."
Childish Gambino's very fitting song, "Redbone," opened Get Out almost as a way to tell the audience to watch this one with all three eyes to understand the narrative. The film was strikingly relevant to current events in a horrific portrayal of the black experience under the guise of a thriller film. The themes of the film were ever clear. From the first interaction with the officer to the commentary on the dead deer reflecting the comments of racists every time one of us are killed, I knew this movie would combat racism with no filter.
Jordan Peele, director and comedian from The Key and Peele Show, touched on topics that we deal with everyday such as: the black man falling victim to white women, white fetishizing of black bodies, experimentation with black organs, defeating the psyche of the black American, and black vulnerability.
We see the main character, Chris, love on his white girlfriend as she lures him into a bad situation. Historically, many black men have become a target due to white women. Six decades after Emmett Till's murder, Carolyn Bryant finally admitted to lying about him whistling at her, a statement that led to the 14 year old's brutal torture and murder. This is a reoccurring theme in the history of the black experience that was perfectly portrayed.
There was an eerie resemblance to slavery when every white person at the party sized up Chris and glorified his physical attributes. Chris perfectly showed our discomfort when we are the only black face in a white space. The woman invaded Chris' personal space and felt up his muscles without asking as if she wanted to buy the strongest black man for her plantation. (Not to mention they actually bid on his body). This exemplifies the sexualization of the black body and what we go through daily every time a white person feels compelled to grab our hair and grope our men. I felt especially uncomfortable for him when he felt a sense of relief to see other people that looked like him just to be rejected because they did not identify with him on the inside. They commented on his looks, his strength, his creative eye and his genetic makeup, all of which they said they wish they had. The plot twist was their use of psychological manipulation to achieve their desires.
I watched this movie hoping and knowing Chris could beat the hell out of anyone that tried him. However, they weakened his mind to take his body. This reminded me of a quote from the Willie Lynch Letter, "Keep the body, take the mind." The black psyche has been weakened by white supremacy over generations leaving us at a disadvantage because we truly believe we cannot excel in this society. Without belief in our power, we will not elevate. We need to see our mental strength as important as our physical attributes because they see it and utilize it.
The hint at the black organ market surprised me in this film. This is the horror of being black in America. This is what makes this film "scary." The black "genetic makeup" is so precious and rare; others will do anything to get it. We have seen black bodies show up to autopsies with organs missing because they have been sold to some rich billionaire in need of a heart, liver or another vital organ. Mirroring reality, black people in the movie were turning up missing because white people believe their bodies have more experimental benefit than their lives. In the movie, they wanted all of the physical characteristics of the black man/woman and achieved that through a partial brain transplant. What is mostly frightening about this is the fact that this really happens. Only in reality, they can walk around with our organs in their bodies but they cannot take our soul.
I saw another blogger mention the black man is seen as "scared not scary" in this film. The black man is seen in reality and in the media as hypersexual and aggressive among other negative things. However, in Get Out, Chris shows us a vulnerability that we do not embrace enough. With every "weird" situation he was in, from white people sizing him up as if he were about to be sold to the highest bidder to watching his black brothers and sisters living "comfortably" in uncomfortable circumstances, Chris had tears in his eyes. It’s the look that we have when things blow our minds, disappoint us but are out of our control. Probably the look we all have every time we see another dead black body on the street at the hands of the police knowing justice will not be served. Here we see him stricken with emotion, vulnerable to the thought of his mother and feeling helpless to the nature of environment he was in. Hug and appreciate a black man today, it truly isn't easy to constantly be torn down and still be expected to embody an immortal kind of strength.
The symbolism was fitting as well. In my perspective, the deer was a metaphor for the black life. People hunt deer and display their heads in their houses as a token of their good hunt. Black folk are hunted and killed and displayed all over the media almost in the same way. Both the deer and black lives are seen in society as disposable. Sprinkle in European obsession with putting our body parts on display after killing us(Saartjie Baartman) and you’ll have a partial analysis of the symbolism of the deer. For the culture, the psychological tea that kept him under hypnosis was “the tea.” We need to stop letting white supremacy get in our head!
All in all, if you missed every theme and didn't look that deep into the movie, it is still a great "thriller." But why wouldn't you? This movie is not "anti-white" but it shows how society can be "anti-black" with hardly any safe spaces for us in relationships, the justice system and even in our minds. Peele shows wypipo's obsession with people of African descent. Many want to appropriate black but really don't want to be black because to be black, well, refer to the James Baldwin quote above.
This piece of art is a true imitation of life as we all would like to "get out" of this dysfunctional system of white supremacy but don't know how to escape. This film blew my sociological socks off and I give "Get Out" an "A" for creativity, amazing acting and attacking an issue that can no longer be tiptoed around.