Jordan Peele has got to be kidding me!
Exactly one month and 3 days after its release, I finally mustered up the courage to see Get Out. Friends teased me for being such a late bird for letting a whopping 4 weeks go by before seeing the highly controversial thriller, written and produced by the former Comedy Central resident.
I must fess up to reading the reviews before I even decided that I would see the film, but I just could not resist or avoid them – they were EVERYWHERE! For me, reading film reviews are like test-driving a car – before I spend $15 and two hours of my life I will never get back, I must ensure an exciting narrative……at the very least, a comprehensible one. Although most people proscribe reading reviews before seeing a movie – for the obvious reason of mind corruption – I am always fully conscious that I am being presented with an opinion that is NOT mine, even if, at some point, it will align with my own. Much of the commentary on Get Out highlighted the racial and social injustices depicted in the film. As I watched Get Out, it was hard not to notice the very obvious overtones (and undertones) that the critics mentioned and I had to push my reasoning and understanding of this movie a little further.
I must fess up to reading the reviews before I even decided that I would see the film, but I could not help myself or avoid them – they were EVERYWHERE.
Who is Jordan Peele?
Comic. Writer. Producer. A quick probe into Mr. Peele’s biography reveals that he was born in New York City to a black father and white mother. He recently married fellow comic Chelsea Peretti, who happens to be a white woman. He attended the Calhoun School for high school on NYC’s Upper West Side. Based on the findings at usaschoolinfo.org, the largest ethnic group at Calhoun is Caucasian, making up about 73.9%, with the 4 other minority groups comprising (individually) of no more than 10% – the school’s Black populace is currently at 5.8% Both the Calhoun School and Sarah Lawrence College – where Mr. Peele also attended as a member of the Class of 2001 – boasts low student-to-faculty ratios and highly-select curricula. Do I sound jealous? Well, not even close! I know that what I researched on Mr. Peele does not even begin to scratch the surface of his personal history. But I must take notice that he was afforded opportunities that many minority children can only dream of. This basic chronicling of his life fills in some of the blanks that Get Out left for me.
Why did Jordan Peele make Get Out?
This film certainly exposes the darker side of humanity – the lengths folks are willing to go to obtain something that you have or fulfill some twisted fantasy. While the film makes this dark side seem more a chimera, it is very real and palpable. Get Out is ridden with microaggressions – you know, like when your white co-worker says that President Obama was such a great guy and how much better he is than the rest and speaks directly to you as if you should jump up for joy because he is black and you are black and a white person is saying how much he/she loves this black person (that they voted for and would do it again) so you should be happy or interested in what they are saying. Well, let’s just say, pretty much the same thing happened in Get Out. I was stumped at this part of the movie, fearful that it would go down the road I hoped it would avoid – caricaturing racist and ignorant comments that lightens the weight felt by those who experience it.
This film certainly exposes the darker side of humanity – the lengths folks are willing to go to obtain something that you have or fulfill some twisted fantasy.
One of the reviews that I read (before seeing the movie) made a claim to white women being untrustworthy and deceptive. Another affirms that white people are just plain ole’ evil and they are really trying to kill all black people. My brother even argued that one of the film’s intentions was to discourage black men from interracial dating. Certainly, my head was in a tailspin. To my brother’s point, I had to question Mr. Peele’s intention, since like his main character, he too, is romantically involved with a white woman. I would assume that he wished to protect the very people by whom he is associated, rather than expose their racist behaviors and tendencies.
The film achingly satires racism removing the weight of the pain it inflicts. One cannot possibly reflect and internalize how he/she negatively contributes to someone’s life experience if it seems like just a mild irritation. The main character’s best friend, a black TSA agent, would make comments to the protagonist, typically mocking the attitudes of entitled and privileged white people, but it was often done in a preposterous and exorbitant manner – which made his truth seem unconvincing. I believe him – the best friend- to be the true hero and protagonist in the story because he was fearless. Despite being ridiculed on more than one occasion, even by black people, he never stopped seeking to find answers and was always honest.
What was Mr. Peele’s message?
For me, there was a missed opportunity here to truly brandish the experience of Black America. It was not a slavery or Civil Rights film and so could have presented race relations in a way that forces self-examination and accountability. The main character – a young black man would encounter the blissful ignorance of prejudicial commentary and unwarranted opinions throughout the movie, but instead of addressing it head-on would roll his eyes and/or shrug it off. Ultimately, this film was made for black people. That may be a good or bad thing, not sure. Whites may miss the point that people say the movie makes, even if they saw it.
For me, there was a missed opportunity here to truly brandish the experience of Black America.
There was heavy-handed symbolism in this movie. I am certain that one thing meant another thing and so forth. Some important lessons could be learned about self-motivation and possessing the will and want to unite as a minority class. Get Out depicted what you would see in just about every black movie where racism is centerfold – submission, submission, submission, then violence. It does not work. Mr. Peele could have used this movie to introduce a new method. Sadly, it felt like deja vu.
As one reading can probably conceive, I am extremely critical of the films that feature black people, as for as long as cinema existed, very few have made any kind of positive impact on the black community. Propaganda and harmful ideologies have been pushed on us, and quite frankly, I AM OVER IT!
Mr. Peele’s wife, who is Caucasian, was recently asked what she thought about the movie and she tweeted a “joke” about the film being about her family and how sad she is that the secret [what transpires in the movie] was exposed. I think that sums it up perfectly. If she does not give a damn, was the movie really a success? The intention behind Get Out remains murky and did very little to educate who I believe were the intended targets. Furthermore, I perceive it was just a cool thriller produced by an adequately famous comedian.
What are your thoughts on the controversial Get Out?
-e.d. the reporter
Image Credit Source: attn.com; gretchinrubin.com; youtube.com; wired.com