I come from a mixed race family; my mother is white while my father is black. As one of 5 siblings, my youngest sister is the only one that bears a darker skin tone. The four oldest siblings in my family, myself included, all possess a white skin tone despite the fact that we are half African American. Given the environment I was raised in and the personal experiences I have shar
ed in, I find the concept of skin color and its affect on how people perceive and treat you incredibly interesting. So while I am half black, but may not look like it based on my skin tone, I always find the reaction so interesting when I tell people. When I heard about the concept of the movie Get Out, I thought it was incredible. I honestly wished I possessed the creative ability that the mixed race director, Jordan Peele, had when making this film. Following the election of President Barack Obama, people wanted to believe that the U.S. was in a post racial world. However, the events of police brutality, racial slurs, and even comments that are not meant to be racist still exist, and people continue to show the isolation they place on African Americans when they talk to them differently and make a point to “identify” with them in someway. The social commentary and vivid images presented in this movie could resonate with any audience of any race, but made me even consider more what African Americans have faced just based on the fact they possess a different color of skin.
It is important to note that while Peele wrote the screenplay, he did not not intend to direct the film. After completing his project, he only then realized that this story could be told through the frame of someone who could identify with the protagonist, and that if it was directed by a white actor, the imagery and allusions may not have been as impactful.
The premise of the movie deals with an African American man, named Chris, who is going to meet the parents of Rose, his white girlfriend, for the first time. Chris works as a photographer, allowing the audience to make note that he observes for a living, and by his authentic shots shown on his walls in the early scenes in the film, he captures raw and real scenes and feelings, making him a credible protagonist. What is so captivating about this movie is the subtle nods the director makes at both the past and present, bringing them together to make a social commentary on race in U.S. in present time.
When first watching Get Out, you may not notice these things, but the movie is meant to be watched twice, allowing the audience to pick up on the hidden messages and images. The following information may contain “easter eggs” or spoilers, but it’s definitely worth the read.
On the way to Rose’s family home, Rose hits a deer while driving. When pulled over by the police, the cop asks for Chris’ identification even though he wasn’t driving, to which he obliges, because to him, it is not out of the ordinary, but Rose raises awareness to this point and questions the police officer for being racist. Rose fights for Chris only because she doesn’t want a paper trail that connects Chris to the Armitage family home. Chris eventually goes to look at the deer they hit and shows empathy towards it. The deer symbolism is later referenced in the movie when Rose’s father says he doesn’t care if deer die, and that there are too many “bucks”, drawing symbolism to African Americans as “buck” is a racist slur that refers to black men.
Upon arriving at the home, Chris sees two people that work for the family, Walter and Georgina, who are also African American. It is upon seeing them that Chris hopes to be relieved, but quickly learns they are not as they appear. When Chris talks to Walter, there is something odd about it. He talks very affectionately about Rose, which is very peculiar. When Chris goes outside in the middle of the night, he sees Walter aggressively running and Georgina fixing her hair in the window. The odd behavior can be explained by the fact that the two people inside the body of the African American workers are actually Rose’s grandparents. Mr. Armitage tells Chris that Walter and Georgina worked for the family when his parents were around, but that when they died, he couldn’t let them go. This ambiguous “them” is actually in reference to his parents. He couldn’t let his parents go, and given his background as a neurosurgeon and his wife’s hypnosis abilities, they have been able to transplant the minds of dying white friends and family members into the bodies of African Americans. The audience could figure this out from the knowledge given by Rose’s father. When he talks to Chris, he informs him that his dad lost the Olympics to Jesse Owens, and that he “almost got over it”, which is why he was running around the yard in a famous clip that has now gone viral as the “#GetOutChallenge. Chris also notices Georgina was checking her hair in the window to make sure her lobotomy scars were covered from the transplant.
One of the most poignant details of the film is the subtlety in which comments that are said by white liberals without the intent of being racist but that are actually very isolating to African Americans. When Chris talks to Rose’s father, he makes the comment that he would have “voted for Obama for a third term”, trying to make a point to show Chris he wasn’t racist. In a very captivating piece of the film, a party takes place in which the friends of Armitage family come to the house, which in a lot of ways resembles a plantation. When the family comes, Chris notices another black man, and even makes note to tell him he feels better that he is there too. In the initial exchange, an odd encounter occurs in which Chris goes to give the man a “fist pound” while the man goes to shake his hand.
The entire party scene is so powerful because the other guests keep admiring what they believe are Chris’ superior physical traits and even ask him what it’s like to be black. He tries to elicit the help of the other black man, but he is unable to answer it, because it is another one of the white people implanted inside him, showing he does not understand what it is like to be a black person. Furthermore, at the party, the scene resembles a slave auction, and in some ways, that’s exactly what it is. The party is aimed at showing Chris off to determine who will take over his body.
Another metaphor used in the movie relates to the paralysis African Americans feel in America. The “sunken place” is the state in which Chris is placed in when Mrs. Armitage puts him under hypnosis. Peele told USA today that the “sunken place” references “the suspended animation of how we look at race in America” and the actor who plays Chris said it could also be a metaphor for the way black people are sometimes forced to resist reaction to what is around them, being paralyzed in their life.
There are many many clever and creative aspects addressed in this film. I highly encourage anyone to see it. It was smart, truthful, and insightful. So many aspects of the film can start conversations and raise awareness and how people live their life. The realizations that are brought to light in this movie are incredibly done. The concept alone is genius. Peele uses the horrific nature of what it is like to be an African America in the U.S. and shows the hardship, racist tendencies of people, and provokes a response in the audience with this social commentary while still playing on the best elements of a horror film.