Before Spring Break at Wake Forest, I promised some of my students I would go and see writer/director Jordan Peele’s new film Get Out. They assured me it is not as cheesy or scary as preview trailers might suggest and that I needed to see the movie because of the social commentary.
Yes, they know that I like that kind of thing in movies. Clearly, these students are paying attention in class (yes, I’m talking about you right now, Dez, because you were insistent that I see this film!).
I dragged my friend Allison along for company and (okay, I admit it) moral support.
Clinging to the assurance that it is “not a horror film” got me through the early parts of the film that startled me.
The premise is straightforward: a young, white woman from an affluent family – Rose (Allison Williams) – brings her black boyfriend – Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) – home to meet her parents, and things get pretty weird right away.
SPOILER ALERT! Don’t read any further if you have not seen the film unless you don’t mind spoilers.
We caught the late matinee yesterday. Allison and I agreed afterward that we’re both glad we saw the film so that we can engage in conversation about it.
This morning, we couldn’t stop texting about Get Out, which is always a good sign that a film has deeper levels of meaning.
Excerpts from our texts:
Mary: Fascinating cultural commentary on how people of color are dehumanized in terms of interior life and used for various body parts and attributes. The film parallels that culturally with the traffic stop [when a police office harasses Chris].
Allison: That and there are so many plot things I keep thinking about…I think that movie did a LOT in a very short amount of time. Well done.
Mary: It is interesting how the brother’s MO is to abduct [victims], and the sister seduces.
We discuss the reasons various people want to take over younger, fitter, more talented bodies and the complexities ideologically of those bodies belonging to people of color.
Mary: I think the bingo game is bidding [for bodies]. I’m still sorting, too.
Allison: Did you every see The Lottery? In some ways, this reminds me of that.
Mary: I read the story. Yes, this is similar. So glad we went!
Allison: Completely different premise, of course, but both share that whole idea of a community becoming complicit in something that is so obviously wrong for “the good” of the community. We watched it when I was in middle school, and I’ve never been able to shake it.
Go see Get Out with an open mind about what the film means.
The control that white people (possessing multiple layers of privilege) exert over people of color is inescapable and worth serious consideration, but you will also find nuance in the plot elements and the performances.
Thank you, students, for urging me to see a film that might not have made it to the top of my list otherwise.