There is something quite thought-provoking about illustrating the notion of liberal racism. It is one that is rarely explored in the mists of the hard-right screaming “All Lives Matter” when black people are suffering from various mediums of racism. The directorial debut of Jordan Peele brings forth the undercurrents of “post-racial” America. Peele’s hybrid of combining common tropes of both dark comedy and drifting towards classic horrific thriller; Get Out establishes its satirical, racial undertones from the liberal’s perspective. Key & Peele star Jordan Peele takes the audience on a journey of questioning our own perspective of modern racism. Liberals may overcompensate their disgust for racial slander and find out they may be indirectly discriminating the black race, they try ever so hard to support. You know the phrase “I’m not racist, I have black friends” nonsense.
“Do they know I’m black?” Chris (Portrayed by versatile British actor Daniel Kaluuya) asks his girlfriend Rose, (Allison Williams) a typical girl next door type of gal. As the couple prepare to meet Rose’s parents for a weekend in a rural white suburban neighbourhood, “Why should they” Rose replies reassuring him that her father Dean (Bradley Whitford) “Would have voted for Obama a third time, if he had the chance“; assuming this is enough to convince Chris “Hey my family aren’t racist, we are defiantly not racist, but we do want your superior genetic makeup because our feeble white bodies don’t have the power of black people” (not an actual quote, but it should be). I seemed to go on a tangent here.
I have always loved the cinematography in films, especially when the camera can express one’s emotions without action or dialogue. This type of tertiary storytelling is conveyed brilliantly throughout the film. In the scene following the couple’s conversation, a close up of Chris looking on to the outside of the passenger seat of the car is restricting, suffocating. Chris is established as a sort of trapped animal, with the camera limiting his headspace, making the aesthetics very restricting around him, establishing how uneasy he actually feels meeting Rose’s family. This method of camera work is dotted around the film when Chris is anxious with everything racial.
“Don’t go to a white girl’s parent’s house” warns Chris’s best friend and loveable, comedic transport security administration, and conspiracy theorist Rod as he calls Chris while the couple is travelling to the Armitage residence. There is some foreshadowing here as Rose says over the loudspeaker “Going out with Chris is just a ploy to get to you”. Chris and Rose are both distracted when Rose knocks over an oncoming deer that found itself on the woodland road. The pair are quite shaken. However, Chris goes to view the animal. There is a moment of discomfort in the scene. The camera cuts with time moving forward slightly, Rose is speaking to an officer of the law while Chris looks distraught over the whole event. We later find this is a connection to his mother’s death where she too died in a car accident. Chris blames himself for the entire ordeal. Chris is a passenger in many of these events; he is powerless to control and thus feels responsible
As Chris and Rose arrive at her parent’s pretentious, but also gorgeous home out in the country, there are a few pointers that should be mentioned, other than Dean’s cringe-worthy “Yeah man” greeting to Chris, but hey you have to show you are a hip dad to the kids right. This is white suburbia at its finest; however, Peele’s Get Out is building this significant location. As Chris and Rose pull into the driveway, a black groundskeeper (Marcus Henderson) gazes into the car and waves to greet the couple (We later find Walter, Rose’s Grandfather to have undergone neurosurgery to be in control of this unnamed character). A little further along the film Chris meets Christina (Betty Gabriel) A black maid. Dean states “I know what it looks like, a complete cliché, A white family with black servants”, plus the famous old line “I would have voted for Obama a third time” A phrase which this family has rehearsed to perfection.
I mention these two characters in particular. Peele did an amazing job in creating this atmosphere of Black characters imposing a threat to Chris. Something is not quite right with them. This also allows the family to sort of put Chris at ease, creating a trusting façade that so many unfortunate black men before him fell to.
A psychiatrist by day and hypnotising body snatcher at night Missy/ Rose’s mother (Catherine Keener) asks Chris if he is a smoker; he confesses he is quitting, a rather insignificant detail at the time. Missy advises that she assists with Chris’s goal, by hypnotising him, Dean is encouraging Chris to consent. Missy had cured him 15 years ago “the sight of a cigarette makes me want to vomit” is all a ploy to get Chris alone and under the influence of the Armitage family.
Cracks of the sinister slowly rise to the surface when Rose’s brother, Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) is introduced to Chris. The family and Chris discuss some embarrassing stories about Rose when Missy leaves the room to “Grab dessert”. Jeremy speaks about his love for fighting sport MMA, something Dean and Rose do not approve of. His desire to become a Fighter interferes with the family’s ethnic body-snatching plans. He refers to Chris as a “Beast” if he trained hard enough, obviously believing that Black people are much more athletic, stronger than feeble, white vessels.
It isn’t until the mid-way point of the film when the whole family confess to luring, primarily black men to their home and sell them to the highest bidder. The scene is reminiscent of our dark history with Rose being the catalyst in the form of romance.
There is something wonderful in the room where Chris is strapped to a chair, being hypnotised for a neuro brain transfusion into a white art dealer who has lost his eyesight. A head of a deer is sitting neatly on a large wall, behind a television that the family use to hypnotise their targets, it is signifying that Chris is now they prey. There was also a conversation between Chris and Dean earlier in the film; Dean telling Chris he hates the deer as a species and that he did the world a favour of running one over, that more should be killed in an analogy that is close to how the far-right view other races.
As Chris is signalled to sleep, a hypnosis sound cue with Missy stirring a spoon in a teapot, Chris notices that there is a rupture in the leather seat he is sitting in with strands of cotton exposed. Peele sends a compelling message in this moment of Get Out. One that I think tops them all. Chris picks the cotton to escape capture and submission to the white Armitage family (now get ready for that beautiful satire Peele is so well renowned for creating); Taking power from all past slave traders, after putting black slaves to work tirelessly on cotton farms. To make it even better, when Chris escapes the clutches of the family by killing Dean with the deer trophy on the wall, the pray has become the hunter, it seems.
Get Out is a modern take on a horrific type of racism. To the people that say racism is awful, sick, in which it is, then glorify Black people as being genetically stronger, better than white people and that all white people should live in awe of the black race. When in truth, all black people want are equal rights, to be given the same opportunities; have dreams and to be able to follow them the way they want, like us white people do. On that, if you haven’t, please go and watch Jordan Peele’s Get out and his newer film Us. Both have incredible visual storytelling. The writing is impeccable. It doesn’t matter if you are black or white, but let us all value each other’s art and remain open to one another’s culture to help cultivate a peaceful, equal future.