By Jordan Jackson
The seemingly harmless stirring of a teacup held a fate that one wouldn’t even imagine.
Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) sits in his girlfriend’s parents’ house searching for memories of the day his mother died. His girlfriend’s mother, Missy (Catherine Keener), sits across the room from him. She continues to stir her tea while talking Chris through his trip down memory lane. This scene may appear to be a regular therapy session; however, there was something far more sinister at play. “I found it.” Chris says “She uh…she was coming home and she wasn’t home.” Missy then asked, “From work?” Chris responded with a “mhm.” That mumbled phrase was able to communicate all the pain Chris felt re-living that moment. Missy continued to probe him as the camera pans in on his face. Tears started to stream from Chris’s bloodshot eyes as he scrapes the chair arm with his fingernails. “You’re so scared. You think it was your fault?” Missy asks as she continues to calmly stir the tea. Chris grows more upset. Missy then asks him how he feels. Chris responded, “I can’t move.” He was paralyzed by his memories. The pain of his thoughts evident in his eyes. “You’re paralyzed, just like that day. You did nothing.” Missy’s words came as a shock to Chris. He starts to dig at the chair arm again with his fingernails. “Now, sink into the floor…sink.” These words sent Chris sinking into a state of dark nothingness. Missy then says “Now you’re in the Sunken Place.” As she closes Chris’s eyes.
Get Out is a satirical horror movie that dives into the racial tensions that exist in modern America. The movie, written and directed by Jordan Peele, is centered around Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya), an African-American man and his white girlfriend, Rose Armitage (Allison Williams), going home to meet her parents, Dean Armitage (Bradley Whitford) and Missy Armitage (Catherine Keener). Her family appears to be a typical liberal white family. There is more than what meets the eye with The Armitages. Chris had no idea the ordeal he would face. Get Out unapologetically takes its audience through thrilling situations that eerily symbolize struggles that black people face in modern society. Get Out is dubbed absurdist satire by many; however, you should see Get Out as the writer and director Jordan Peele. He effectively uses horror realism to shed light on racism in today’s society.
Chris Washington and Rose Armitage have decided that their relationship is now at the point for Chris to meet her parents. This initial meeting for any couple is usually filled with anxiety, especially in Chris’s case. This was evidenced when he asked Rose, “Do they know I’m black?” A question that Chris undoubtedly pondered for some time. The story follows the two meeting Rose’s parents who appear to be a typical suburban liberal white family. Their overtly liberal gestures soon grow weary on Chris which ends up increasing his suspicions of them. Peele effortlessly interweaves the many micro-aggressions that blacks experience on a daily basis. This highlight makes the movie incredibly relatable — which in turn has greater appeal to its audience.
Jordan Peele’s Get Out takes a page from horror classics Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives. These movies effectively use realism and absurdity to invoke a kind of fear that can’t be easily shaken. Get Out has picked up the baton and carries it well as its absurdist satire is hair-raising. What makes Get Out terrifyingly chilling is the fact that it focuses not on a supernatural element or slasher with a hockey mask. The movie focuses on the nasty demon of racism that raises its ugly head in modern society. Jordan Peele takes this very real fear that many people have and turned into a thrilling masterpiece.
Get Out initially came as a shocker to me. I wasn’t sure how it would be received. A movie that blatantly addresses the elephant in the room — rampant racism in post-Obama America. The film takes the fear of people of color and turns it into a horrifying masterpiece. Get Out fills its audience with terror by invoking very real fears that many possess. It sheds light on the many micro-aggressions that liberals sometimes are guilty of. Dean Armitage, for example, mentioned to Chris that “It’s such a privilege to be able to experience another person’s culture. You know what I’m saying?” This specifically stood out for me as black people do not have the white privilege that Dean carelessly flaunted. There are systemic roadblocks present which prevent minorities from easily assimilating white culture. The film also shows the fear that Black people deal with on a daily basis. The opening scene, for example, shows a black man walking on an empty suburban street on the phone when a car starts tailing him. He expectantly starts looking for a way out; however, he wasn’t fortunate enough. This is reminiscent of the many black people whose lives have been wrongfully taken simply by them going about their daily lives.
Jordan Peele has taken pointers from horror classic Rosemary’s Baby. This film was very controversial in its time as it unapologetically highlighted issues of equality, more specifically that of women’s rights. Rosemary’s husband made a decision about Rosemary’s body without her consent. A decision made out of greed that would benefit his career. Rosemary was bearing the spawn of Satan, an intruding entity. This sparked the conversation of reproductive rights as many women could relate to such a situation where their body is being invaded by an uninvited entity. In Get Out, for example, Chris was hypnotized because the Armitages auctioned his body to a white man who would then have his consciousness transferred into (or invading) Chris’s body. They needed Chris docile as the decision was made against his will. These films use realistic situations to effectively invoke fear in their audiences which is what makes them timeless and thrilling.
Just like 1968’s Rosemary’s Baby and 1975’s The Stepford Wives, Get Out is not just
another horror movie. It is a monumental film as it serves as a wake-up call for many Americans that racism is still a very real issue today. According to The Guardian’s Gwilym Mumford, “ … Get Out’s real impact was far more profound than that which showed up on balance sheets and end-of-year polls. This was the rare mainstream movie that mattered, a mass-market horror that forced its many viewers to confront head-on the most pressing topic in American life today” (Mumford). It’s a break in the narrative that we’re in a post-racial society. Get Out takes our deepest fears as blacks and brings them to the silver screen. In Get Out Chris explains to Georgina that he gets nervous around too many white people. Georgina pauses for a second unable to respond before a tear streams from her left eye with a forced laugh. It appears as though she was going through some internal fight where she eventually says, “No, no no no no. Aren’t you something. That’s not my experience, not at all.” In this case, Jordan Peele wanted
to shed light on cultural appropriation. Despite mimicking black culture for our physical traits, they will never offer the full experience, i.e. Black Culture. Georgina’s inability to relate to Chris in that situation is bone-chilling — she is in the “sunken place.” According to the indie filmmaker, Sharice B., Peele purposely includes themes such as these because “We’re condemned or hyper-sexualized for our physical traits/fashion but the same physical traits/fashions are celebrated when seen on non-black bodies.” Metaphorically, they’ve adapted our physical attributes, but the experience is still not authentic.
Get Out is an absolutely amazing movie enjoyed by many. The masses have applauded
Peele on his directing debut. The film exposes the very real struggles that African-Americans face. This was expressed, however, in an exaggerated manner. The topic of racism is a very heavy one and Peele’s use of satire makes the pill an easier one to swallow. Peele’s decision, however, to have Chris walk free after his murder spree is the peak of Get Out’s absurdity. It offers a crowd-pleaser, one that quite frankly wouldn’t happen in the real world. The film offers the perfect balance between realism and absurdity. From the absurdly relevant sunken place to the shocking betrayal by Rose, Get Out has earned its spot as a horror classic through its effective use of elements at the opposite ends of the artistic spectrum.
History has shown that thriller movies that employ realism over supernatural themes have made them timeless. Hollywood has exposed audiences to some of the most disturbing themes one can imagine. Audiences are then harder to please as they’ve experienced a lot of taboo content. Realism never loses its luster. This theme uses everyday situations and relationships to deliver its scare. This strikes close to home as the audience can relate as there is a possibility that they too can experience the betrayal the protagonist experiences. Get Out effectively includes all elements of realism and has effectively intertwined satire to offer its audience some relief from the hair-raising events that occur. For those of you who have not yet seen Get Out, it offers a shocking insight into the racial tensions that exist in American society. Those of you who think it’s too absurd I urge you to re-watch and pay closer attention to the dialog and situations as
they expose issues that are currently in hot debate nationwide. For those of you who’ve been longing for the ending where the protagonist finally gets a win, Get Out offers that break, which leaves you feeling happy after your viewing. Overall, this film is one for the history books and it definitely deserves a place on your watch-list.
B, Sharice. Why Georgina Is An Unsung Hero In ‘Get Out’. Feb 2018. 2 Nov 2018 <https:/
Get Out. Dir. Jordan Peele. Perf. Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford, Allison Williams Daniel Kaluuya. 2017.
Mumford, Gwilym. “The 50 top films of 2017 in the US: No 3 Get Out.” 20 Dec 2017. 28 Oct
Rosemary’s Baby. Dir. Roman Polanski. Perf. Mia Farrow, et al. 1968.
Course: ENG 101 Composition, Fall 2018
Instructor: Daniela Ragusa