Jordan Peele’s box office hit, “Get Out,” breaks the barriers of the typical film by injecting the one-dimensional goriness of the horror genre with cultural and social commentary. When I first heard about the film, I was hesitant. Recent films have carved a much-needed space for the African-American voice in our popular media, like “Moonlight” and “Hidden Figures.” These would fall under the category of drama, a genre that lays a perfect landscape for social propaganda and contemporary issues. The idea of including racial commentary in a horror film made me think it was a lofty goal…I appreciate the boldness, but how will this be done tastefully, without being overwhelmed with brutal violence? How can an audience construe the proper, critical meaning behind the horror and the suspense, the mystery and the thrills? Will the Hollywood cheap tricks overshadow the social significance of this film?
After seeing the film, I can readily admit I was mistaken in my hesitation. The protagonist, Chris, is confronted with subtle acts of racism from the start as he journeys with his girlfriend Rose to visit her family in the south. We can tell he is accustomed to this ignorant behavior—from the white cop insisting on looking at his license to Rose’s father trying to connect with him, an off-putting over use of “my man.” As the plot furthers, it is clear that something is amiss in this overwhelmingly white, southern culture that Chris has been thrust into. In fact, the plot spirals to reveal a modern-day manifestation of racism, in which dying, rich white people use the bodies of black people to surgically implant their mind and become a step closer to immortality.
This film pushed me to consider the subtleties of racism that linger in our society. In fact, they occur in everyday life, often enough where I don’t even notice it until it is exaggerated before me on the big screen of Regal Cinemas 27. The sinister and harrowing modernization of slavery can be perceived as a metaphor for the long lasting damage we are incurring on society by failing to recognize our flaws in terms of equality and acceptance. The film’s violence—not as overwhelming as I expected—can be construed as commentary on issues such as police violence against African Americans. In the movie, Chris resorted to violence as an act of self-defense, not because he is an inherently violent man. Perhaps Jordan Peele is trying to open our eyes to the construction of false narratives by popular media through his artful satire? As a whole, I applaud the use of film, a captivating art form, to comment and satirize modern social injustice. Speaking to his audience through the theater, a beloved American pastime, can spread the message farther than ever anticipated.