Get Out is everyone’s pick and a unicorn that actually lived up to its hype.
I’ll readily admit this film didn’t initially speak to me when I first saw the trailer, which seriously led me to suspect something along the lines of Snoop Dog’s mid ‘90’s gem of a mess Bones. This film, however, garnered an unprecedented buzz and recommendations unlike any film since Avatar. Even more surprising, people who saw the film all wanted to see it again! A friend of mine insisted I see the film and messaged me in caps “GO TODAY”. It became crystal clear this was more than just a film. Get Out was swiftly becoming a cultural phenomenon as well as a puzzle of sorts that people were trying to decode. I, for one, love puzzles and enjoy a heavy mind fuck, so three of my friends and I went to see it on a Friday night. I left the theater inspired, blown away and extra ‘woke’. Multiple genres seamlessly blended into a brilliant film. It made me want to work hard and create my own inspiring projects. That is the overall point in exploring film and other art forms at the end of the day: Motivation. The film’s record-breaking success makes it a landmark. It is the first film by an African American writer director to gross over one hundred million dollars. Great for the community!
What better way to manifest society’s demons and slay them than in a horror movie? I couldn’t help but think how much Get Out reminded me of Tales From The Hood, another brilliant and satirical complex film aimed at shining a light on issues facing the black community. The difference is Get Out stepped outside of the black community and wasn’t urban. This film included the white liberal…. or the lip service liberal to be more precise. A group of people that I always attributed to being the most out of touch. Some of the most heated arguments I have had regarding race were with these lip service liberals. There are many examples of this in Get Out, but to me the most relatable was the Armitages’ over the top efforts to appear ‘down’, seemingly accepting Chris as soon as they met him. The most satirical example was when the Armitages introduced Chris to their friends. He was immediately on display and all the questions asked were very forward and dealt with blackness on a superficial level. These questions appeared to be typical old white people trying to express an interest and cultivate knowledge, but in reality this showed their extreme ignorance and were offensive. To me, these sorts of white liberals always seem so well insulated, in a bubble of ‘kumbaya’. They are, in fact, the dirty underbelly of humanity. They talk the ‘kumbaya’ bullshit but can’t engage in a meaningful conversation about racial issues because they don’t have much to say. In short, these white liberals don’t want to deal with it . . .so they don’t. Quite frankly, I was elated at the prospect of something bringing light to this group…. calling them out!
Important themes and messages were brilliantly interwoven throughout the film, along with a variety of interesting theories, insights and subtexts in the film. I went online and found many conversations about this film filled with endless analyses from multiple perspectives. . I read this brilliant piece that highlighted the presence of the only Asian man at the party and how it represented Asians participation in anti-black racism. A read another one that talked about Get Out being a film about benevolent racism, and yet another one that talked about it being a film about how scary it is being a black man in America. I was fascinated by the range of messages people got from the film depending on who they were, their knowledge of history, and what their political and social views were. The film worked as sort of a mirror, reflecting back the viewer’s bias.
I’ve heard ultra-conservatives label the film as dangerous. Black nationalists pick it apart carefully, noting how each sequence relates to the black struggle. There are others who didn’t read much into it, but still enjoyed it because it was cool and scary. In my opinion, this was a testament to a well-constructed film.
To me, the most potent message of the film is resistance, the word resonating in my mind when I left the theater. The dictionary defines resistance as the refusal to accept or comply with something, or the attempt to prevent something by action or argument. Resistance is a universal message and is singularly impactful and relevant when examining the black experience. Throughout most of the film Chris is fighting. He’s fighting not to lose himself. This I directly parallel to the plight of the African American. His fight isn’t with a conspicuous enemy. It’s for control of his mind and done through hypnosis. Everything around him appears innocuous and helpful but there is a clear agenda: take him down, but in such a way he is still functional and beneficial… but only to them! I found this comparable to the systematic brainwashing of the black mind through the media and societal norms aimed at black people, encouraging them to lose touch with their roots and become machines that are powered by and for ‘them’, the establishment. It’s a common belief. This film creatively displays this. What made it even more interesting to me was how hard he fought to avoid falling victim to an innocuous, yet disastrous conspiracy. .
The only thing that saved Chris him from falling victim to the hypnosis and mind control was pulling a wad of cotton out of a seat and stuffing it into his ear. This subtle, yet potent detail was the coup de grace. Cotton picking is one of the most poignant and direct reminders of the slave experience and a clear message to the black community: The only thing that shields him from the incessant, veiled pull of the world was a strong and painful representation of his roots.
I interpreted this as knowledge of my own, very personal roots. It is my belief that your roots are the only thing that can keep you from falling victim to any type of tricks, deceptions, or mind games that society may try to impose on you. On a universal level, it can be inferred that knowledge of yourself and where you come from is the only weapon you need to defeat any oppressor.
Get Out was a powerful and important piece of cinema. It opened my mind and I hope that this creates a need for more films like this in the future.