So after hearing a lot of buzz, last night I finally watched Jordan Peele’s Get Out (thanks to comparethemarket) and the buzz was 110% justified. I wouldn’t say I’m a movie boffin, but I do love a good film, and without a doubt Get Out has been the best film I’ve seen in my entire life. It’s managed to infuse one of my favourite film genres, thrillers, with the world’s most divisive system of oppression, racism, whilst being an entertaining film at the same time.
Black British actor Daniel Kaluuya, who plays Chris Washington, (ironically sharing the same last name as the USA’s first president) made a powerful performance in his debut box office lead role film. Through his self-awareness and sincerity, Chris perfectly shows how black males are in fact multi-faceted, and have more depth than just their “frame and…genetic makeup”.
Without giving too much away to those who haven’t watched it (if haven’t it’s worth watching), the plot follows Chris Washington meeting his white girlfriend’s parents for the first time. Despite asking “Do they know I’m black?” with Chris’ girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), swiftly responding “No, should they?”, Chris remains a level-headed character and avoids becoming a tragic hero in this ‘social thriller’.
In a country where violent racist hate groups still exist; countless amounts of murders by police forces are filmed (even live streamed) with little change, and a growing profitable prison industrial complex where black male inmates are incarcerated 5 times more than their white counterparts- it is no wonder why black relations with other factions of American society are severely strained.
That’s the reason why Jordan Peele’s timing of this film is perfect.
Thrillers and the most goriest horror films don’t scare me, I like them because I find them entertaining (I know, weird sense of humour)- but with Get Out I was genuinely scared, like genuinely. Usually whilst watching a movie in the cinemas, I finish my popcorn or snacks, but this time I could barely drink my juice let alone eat. Explaining why I was scared so much is simple and it comes down to two main points: realism and fear.
To Damn Real:
The realness of this movie was what made it so scary. The mico-aggressions, and the subtly of racism felt all too familiar. In hindsight I was quite surprised there wasn’t a “can I touch your hair?” moment (most probably because Daniel Kaluuya had short hair).
It’s like all of your pet peeves, grievances, and fears about racism were personified and dressed for a Halloween Party at your family home that they were not invited to. Speaking for myself, as a young black male, the film was too close for comfort, too real to laugh- and the rare times I did laugh, it was more of an awkward laugh, more because I wanted to take a breath than because I found it funny.
Fear of the ‘R’ words:
Due to around 400 years of systematic white supremacy, built of the calculated underdevelopment of the global ‘South’-where black people originate from. I argue the words ‘race’, ‘racism’, ‘racial’ and ‘racist’ have created a sense of fear amongst black people. Not a fear of the oppressors who continuously sustain this system, but a fear of the mental affects black people constantly endure due to this system of oppression.
Get Out represents more than just a good black movie because it manages to reflect these everyday fears that black people face throughout the world. From what I’ve read about and seen in the media, often African Americans (blacks) see themselves different from other black people. Of course, African America culture may differ on a surface level, but Get Out depicts the shared universal experiences, apprehensions, and fears about racism all black people go through. It is this universality that overall doesn’t make me fearful of being black, but proud that our people can mould centuries of adversity into a cause to unite- you got to love black creativity.
African Americans vs Other Blacks:
In a Hot 97 interview, Samuel L. Jackson suggested Jordan Peele’s film would have better benefitted if there was an American playing the lead role.
Asked why so many Black British actors are cast for American roles, Jackson controversially replied: “They’re cheaper than us, for one thing. They don’t cost as much.” He later clarified his comments, but I’ve chosen to include this to highlight how superficial his reasonings are, because in the eye of the cinema viewer (the world) there is no difference between African American or Black British actors (black people).
Kaluuya responded in an interview with GQ by saying: “This is the frustrating thing, in order to prove that I can play this role…I have to show off my struggle so that people accept that I’m black”.
In spite of the imagined frustrations Kaluuya must feel, we can use this film to highlight the shared culture with our brothers and sisters across the Atlantic, and Jackson’s opinions also highlight the urgent need to drop the superficial differences that divide us.
A film not just for Black People…
I firmly believe Get Out does not aim to exclude white people or any other non-black race. Instead, it provides a priceless immersion into the real life racist experiences black people go through. In doing this, it is also a social commentary of much of the world, and it challenges people of all colours (colors) to rethink their views on race.
Jordan Peele has shared with WMagazine that: “People…[don’t] just wake up one day and decide they’re gonna be racist.”
Instead, racism exists due to systems of oppression, which are externalised through unconscious bias that some people can fall victim of. A greater effort to be more aware and conscious of these bias’ will help in ending this problem.
One last point, I would like to leave for all my non-black readers is, it’s not enough to not be racist. If you really care about understanding the black struggle and improving global equality, you need to be anti-racist.
Stay Woke and God Bless.
Chijioke Anosike TWN Editor