Feeling dismayed over Beauty and the Beast’s sold out status, about a month ago my friend and I opted to watch Get Out instead. If I were reviewing Get Out solely as entertainment, I have to say it was an excellent low budget film by Jordan Peele. It felt refreshing to watch a horror film that didn’t involve a child being possessed and killing off their family. Daniel Kaluuya’s acting was on point. I also loved the T.S.A best friend, who kept it real during the whole movie. More importantly, however, Get Out sharpened our eyes to modern narratives—a huge contrast to the nostalgia my friend and I were expecting to experience at the movies.
We’ve all seen racism, some of us may have experienced it, but this film contrasts the obvious forms: The bizarre extremes and subtleties that racism is expressed through. At times the film mimics the historical role of white people dominating the colored-through vibes of a modern day plantation where colored people are the hired help. In contrast, choices like the caucasian girlfriend/mole separating her colored fruit loops from her glass of white milk put a nuanced spin on the extremes of racism. In this modern day small town, caucasian folks wear black because it is the new fashion and fetishize the biological advantages of Africans. The consistent themes of black and red throughout the film were creepy to say the least. The movie makes you question if racial tensions in a mixed race couple are inevitable. Furthermore, it makes you question how many times you’ve witnessed the societal/economic advantages of minority races being celebrated in North America, but only in a way where they are still undervalued compared to caucasians. Donald Trump, for example, acknowledges the talents of immigrants but has attempted to ban immigrants twice. I don’t think I’ve heard a word about gun control and domestic terrorists.
I’m not convinced that the level of hypnosis depicted in the film is realistic, but the movie’s theme of hypnotism mirrors our current relationship with media. There’s this major news network that regularly defends the current government (not giving names, take a wild guess!) and if I were an avid watcher of said network I would be conditioned to accept that the presidency is normal. We see the spotlight on Trump and his controversial actions, but it doesn’t mean we should be under a spell of sorts, only focusing on him. Two African American girls (Shaniah Boyd and Winter Griffin) were missing for days. Police violence is still rampant against black people. If it wasn’t for Shaun King’s twitter account, which I follow, I wouldn’t have known about important current events. It just isn’t enough to say what is happening in our world is unfair, we need to consistently question what we know and what we don’t. In the movie, even law enforcement professionals failed to act on new evidence that a missing man, Andre Hayworth, was found. We can’t always trust authorities to connect the dots for us.
Until it happens to us we can never fully understand the way daily prejudice feels. Even as a South Asian woman who has experienced personalized racism, who am I to say my experience mirrors someone who is an immigrant, African American, etc. There are similarities between all racial struggles, yet there are differences. I think each deserves to have their own story. I’m not interested in ranking racial experiences. Listening to the struggles of others is just as important as voicing your own.
With the understanding that we all know racism exists, Get Out feeds us our craved adrenaline rush and forces our awareness to new heights. It takes something temporarily entertaining like a thriller film and makes us uncomfortable with our own inherent prejudice. Get watching, and get talking.