When Meeting The Parents Has a Deeper Meaning *contains spoilers*
I’m not usually part of the clan that runs to the cinema when there is so much hype surrounding a film, I will go based on whether the film is worth watching at all in my opinion. However, everyone that I spoke to, (which was everyone) told me that Get Out is a must see movie. So I decided to see what the buzz was all about; bearing in mind I had watched the trailer late last year.
Director, and Writer of Get Out, Jordan Peele commonly known as half of the comedy duo: Key and Peele. Keegan-Michael Key being the other half to the partnership. Their show was extremely popular through 2012-2015, and can still be watched on Comedy Central’s YouTube channel. Get Out is Peele’s directorial debut, which is currently (April 2017) grossing at $156 million worldwide, and has surpassed The Blair Witch Project (1999) that grossed $150 million. In Get Out, black male lead, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) visits his new girlfriend, Rose’s parents’ family estate. He has reservations about going as they are white, and this is the first time Rose (Allison Williams) is introducing a black boyfriend to the Armitage family. They arrive, and during their meet and greet with Rose’s dad, Dean (Bradley Whitford) a Neurosurgeon, and her mother, Missy (Catherine Keener), a Hypnotherapist, Missy, and Bradley learn that Chris is trying to quit smoking. She offers to hypnotize him, to alleviate him of his cravings but he politely declines. Later that night when he wakes up from his restless sleep to sneak out and have a cigarette, Missy catches Chris creeping back into the house, and sees an opportunity to persuade him to talk about him quitting. With a few clicks of her teaspoon on her teacup, and talk of his childhood memories and him blaming himself for not finding his mother when she hadn’t returned home – she was found bleeding to death after a hit and run. Chris finds himself in a deep and dark place: a Sunken Place. He can see and hear, but his body is paralyzed, and the click of a teacup controls this state of hypnosis.
Peele says on Twitter:
This place is clearly an allegory of the fears Black America have. Their anxieties have been engulfed because of the win of the Republican Party which placed Donald Trump into presidency late 2016.
Black America is still mentally enslaved by White America this is evident at the time when Chris meets the rest of the Armitage family, and their friends. The guests begin to bid as Chris is on sale unbeknown to him (and previously other black males/females that Rose lured to the house). The highest bidder wins in their game of Bingo for their/the black person’s most desirable attributes. I believe this is Peele metaphorically speaking about White America ‘buying into’ black culture and their ‘desirable attributes’. The Armitage family would use parts of the black men and women’s bodily parts to enhance their physicality, or their mental. Athleticism in the NBA is exemplary of this. Commissioner Adam Silver is profiting from the courtside, or his office whilst the NBA players who are predominantly black males are working on the ‘field’, and to add, the percentage of black coaches are very low. Conversely, is this a problem if the players are profiting too from their own ‘desirable attributes’? Is the system silencing black males? Surely they have a say in the matter.
The distinct contrast between Chris, and Rose’s skin tones, when they were clasping hands in Get Out made me think this could be a new age Jungle Fever film. This moment was very reminiscent of Wesley Snipes, and Annabella Sciorra holding hands on the film poster of Jungle Fever (1991). I don’t believe Spike Lee would have gotten the same plaudits as Peele had he made this film. Although Get Out is no way a comedy, Peele’s comedic background softens his delivery about the myths of post-racial America, it’s delicate. If Spike Lee, directed Get Out, the ‘message’ would have been more abrasive due to his distinguished pro-black films that he has written, and directed. It’s not to say that a comedy writer cannot make a horror, it’s that his audience may not take him seriously. They are so used to seeing Peele write and act in comedy that they don’t recognize the leap he has made from comedy to horror. This belief even started a hash tag trend on Twitter: #GetOutChallenge, where tweeters were making light of one of the characters in the film. Even though Peele embraced this, how hard hitting is the message of his film, and his accolade as a horror director. When Alfred Hitchcock was chosen to direct Psycho (1960), he too wasn’t taken seriously as a horror director as his background was mainly directing romance, mystery and thrillers. Hitchcock proved the critics wrong, and although at the time Peeping Tom (1960) was said to be a better film than Psycho – both horror films released in 1960, Psycho has stood the test of time, and is a canon film. Maybe with time Get Out may too become a canon film.
Peele says in his interview with Variety:
Peele ensures that the black male lead doesn’t get murdered which is a trend in pretty much all horror films that have a black male actor. From Omar Epps in Scream 2 (1997), to Mekhi Phifer in I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998). So, in Get Out not only does Chris save his own life, his friend Rod (LilRel Howery), a TSA agent, who shows up to help him leave the Armitage estate in the final act. The alternate ending would have been what we hear to be police sirens, is exactly that, and not the sirens of Rod’s TSA car. Chris then would have been arrested for the massacre, and murders on the Armitage estate. However, Peele said this would highlight that racism is still an issue in America. He instead, goes with the ending where Chris and Rod live up to the films name, and they ‘Get Out’. Peele describes this as a ‘positive feeling’, and Get Out provides the audience with escapism, knowing that there is no ‘real’ escape. Black America no longer have their black hero former president Barack Obama to be their savior, like Rod (in Get Out). They have a Far Right political leader for their president, and sadly more cases of black males dying at the hands of racism, and police brutality. So once the credits go up, and the lights come on in the cinema, Black America are back in their Sunken Place, and there really is no escape, or is there?
Deanna Russell –