Tuesday, April 11, 2017
"Get Out": a review
Another valuable resource...
An important resource in our ongoing conversation about white privilege is the new film Get Out by Jordan Peele. As opposed to the traditional dramas and documentaries of last year's Oscar worthy films and the shimmering beauty that was Moonlight, Get Out breaks new ground in the horror genre. More appropriately, like the classics Night of the Living Dead and Rosemary's Baby before it (and TV's The Walking Dead), Get Out is better described as social horror. Like George Romero's Night Of the Living Dead in the sixties, Get Out holds up a mirror to the current state of interracial relationships in our society. And what the eye sees is pretty scary.
From its cold open with a lone black man stranded in a white suburb, we realize that the news over the last year or so has changed our idea of what scary is. You can't see this lone black man lost in white suburbia without thinking Treyvon Martin, and so the horror begins.
The basic frame is a visit to the white suburban parents by an interracial couple. From there it's a journey into the heart of elite white liberal land with occasional appearances by strangely docile African Americans. Part of the painful reality of the film is that the true monsters are not Deliverance style rednecks loosed by Trump's election. They are instead white liberals, like the father who would have "voted for Obama for a their time." We're deep in Hilary country here. And Get Out is brave enough to go there.
Peele touches all the right buttons from the painfully hip father and his use of "My man" and "thang" to the old white golfer who "knows Tiger" to the TSA black friend who humorously (and presciently) warns about going to "white girls' parents' houses" and " the "sex slave thing." Even the psycho bro brothers' absent minded yet menacing play with his lacrosse stick has a resonance.
Get Out eventually earns its horror benefides by going all Grand Guignol in the last reel. I'm really not interested in going into detail or spoiler alerts at this point. You can find that elsewhere. But before we get to the horror finale, we get schooled through brilliant metaphor as to the historic impact and continuing deforming reality of slavery in the US. The bottom line is that after blood soaked struggle for survival, our hero sees what should be the salvific sight of police car lights. And our heart sinks. Because we know. You'll have to see the film yourself to see how it turns out.
To really understand this movie, go to an urban movie house. Maybe your closest Magic Johnson theatre. Let your body and spirit experience the sound of the reaction to the redemptive violence of the final act. Really feel that. That's where we are. One could say that this movie comes from an auteur who believes our situation is hopeless. Except that this movie was shared with us,
The ongoing work of deconstructing white privilege is a long and continuing project. Get Out is a valuable resource.....the most important movie yet this year...in that project. Allow yourself to be shaken.