How Get Out Portrays Just How Scary Racism Can Be
March 13, 2017
Filed under Opinion
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Jordan Peele shocked the country when he traded his usual spotlight in comedy for a new position in the director’s chair. Directed by Peele, the psychological thriller, Get Out showcases a deeper perspective of race in America.
Get Out features a young black man named Chris ( Daniel Kaluuya) and his white girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams) as they take a trip to visit her family. Unknown to his girlfriend, Chris feels some anxiety concerning the fact that he is black, visiting his girlfriend’s white family for the first time.
When Chris meets Rose’s family, they are welcoming – a bit overzealous – but seemingly normal.
Then, the parent’s two black servants, a maid and a groundskeeper, are introduced, and even though Rose’s father guarantees its not the way it looks like, Chris, and the audience, can’t help the nagging feeling that something just isn’t right.
Although race is the main focus of the film, overt racism isn’t the conflict; It’s hidden, underlying, and communicated through small comments and actions that black people experience everyday.
Watching this film, you will not see a Klan member, a confederate flag, or hear racial slurs. What you will see is the theatrical personification of the systematic appropriation of black features and culture. With this, Chris soon figures out his place in Rose’s family.
In a ploy disguised as a treatment to cure Chris’s smoking habit, Rose’s mother Missy puts him under hypnosis – sending him down into “the sunken place.” This place is visualized as Chris falls into a dark and empty space, where he is unable to move or speak, and is forced to look up only to see a small window far away – displaying what his eyes are seeing.
Soon, we find that this removal of the black person from the black body is the psychological and “medical” service that this family specializes in.
The entire family, including Rose, runs a secret brain transplant operation, where the highest white bidder’s brain is surgically inserted into a black body. Once the operation is complete, the white person is now in control of the black body, now being the owner of all the desired black features and characteristics, while the black person remains paralyzed and unheard in “the sunken place.”
The final product being a white person, totally in control of a black body and all its traits; with its original owner removed and silenced.
Features typically correlated with blackness, such as speed, strength, or “coolness” are sought after and bought by these seemingly harmless white people.
The racism isn’t loud or outright, but it’s casual and detached, and it turns out to be just as dangerous.
Something along these lines happens in today’s society, but not quite literally. Cultural appropriation of black culture has become mainstream, where something “black” put on someone white is suddenly more valuable and is seen as new.
Dreadlocks on actress Zendaya lead to the assumptions that she would smell like weed, while dreadlocks on Miley Cyrus are “edgy” and “cool.” Big lips and a big butt on any Kardashian is the hot new trend, but those same features naturally on a black woman? That’s too much.
Over and over again, we see black features being glorified on anything but black bodies. In an act of genius, Peele manages to somehow cinematically depict this conflict and the need and want for black bodies while erasing black experience and history.