By CARRIE PINKARD / Staff Writer
Get Out is a slow-burn thriller written and directed by Jordan Peele of the television comedy series Key and Peele. The film has been wildly successful since its release in February of this year, grossing over $30 million its first weekend in theatres. Get out is a blend of dark humor and horror, laced with racial commentary on American society. It holds a mirror up to white people and says; “this is how you’re marginalizing black people in society. Watch it, laugh at yourselves, and most importantly learn from it.”
The film follows an interracial couple, Rose (Allison Williams), and Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) as they travel to meet Rose’s parents for the weekend. After Chris meets Rose’s hypnotist mother, brain surgeon father, sneering brother, and the two eerie black servants, half the theatre was already thinking to themselves, “this man needs to GET OUT”.
Things start to get more and more sinister from here as we discover exactly why Rose’s parents make us so uncomfortable. Rose’s mom and dad run a business where they auction off the bodies of black people to their white friends. Rose’s mom hypnotizes the black person, and Rose’s dad performs some sort of science-fiction brain surgery that allows the white person to inhabit the black person’s body. The white person wants to inhabit the black persons’ body to use their athleticism, their strength, or their “cool factor” while maintaining their own white brains and identities. It was truly horrific, but also commentary on the way white people want to adopt certain aspects of black culture- be it the music, the clothing, or the vernacular – while still maintaining their white identities.
Blame it on the fact that very few villains in films are young white women, or that we’re used to seeing white women singing to birds and being dressed by cute mice, but I did not want to believe that Rose Armitage knew the heinous things her family was up to in Get Out. I wanted to believe that she too was being hypnotized by her mom but instead she was arguably the worst of them all. She formed real relationships with black men, made them think she loved them, and then crushed them with her cold, dainty, manicured white fist.
The ending of this movie is especially poignant; more so for what could have happened than what actually did. At the end of the film Chris fights back against the family and escapes from the shackles they put him in. He steals Rose’s gun and is able to shoot her in the stomach, leaving her bleeding out on the ground with him standing over her. Right at that moment, a police car pulls up with its lights on and Rose reaches out towards it looking utterly defenseless and mouths the word “help.” The audience collectively draws in a breath, knowing that in the middle of the country, a black man standing over a white woman who’s covered in blood does not bode well. There is a pregnant pause where Chris puts his hands up and we all expected to hear a gun shot. No gun shot comes asthe police officer was actually a friend of Chris’s who came knowing Chris was in trouble. However, the fact that the audience was expecting this black man with his hands up to be shot speaks volumes. Rose, the white woman, was able to appear innocent just by sticking her hand out. White people live with the privilege of perceived innocence. Rose, in contrast to her black boyfriend, is not constantly profiled as an individual who commits crime purely based on her skin tone.
Get Out is an amazing film, and while it is funny at parts it should also make you as a viewer uncomfortable. Uncomfortable with the way white people commodify black culture yet mistreat black people. Uncomfortable with the way that black people in the film are reduced to inhabitable robots, valuable for their physical composition rather than their humanity. And uncomfortable with the pretense that white women are innocent until proven guilty, but black men are seen as guilty until proven innocent.