Stay or “Get Out”: A Film Review for a Class on Black Nationalism
By Danielle Bailey @gnothiseauton7
Jordan Peele wrote and directed the movie Get Out, a symbolic movie with a thriller like premise that exposes some feelings and thoughts that aren’t openly talked about between the races. One theme in particular that stood out to me throughout the entire movie was the theme of deception. This deception comes from the white people in the movie, through their fake kindness and concern, especially via the white woman.
The movie starts out with a typical scary movie scene depicting a black man walking in a nice neighborhood at night. The scene rapidly becomes atypical, when it becomes apparent the black man is afraid, and he ends up being gagged and thrown into the trunk of a, presumably, white man’s sports car. This sheds light on the uncomfortableness that many black individuals feel when around white people and it confirms that we have reason to. We won’t literally be stolen from their streets but it sets the tone for the rest of the movie, that through our subconscious, we symbolically get kidnapped. When we try to get out, they are still successful because we put ourselves in a position to be taken advantage of. This is the first instance of deception in the movie, the deception that the black man is safe in the white neighborhood because it “looks” nice.
Further on in the movie, Rose, who is white, and her boyfriend Chris, who is black, head to her parents’ house for the weekend. Along the way, they hit a deer and when the police officer arrives, he asks Chris for ID, even though he wasn’t driving and Rose jumps to his rescue. This is another example of deception and a foreshadowing of the end of the movie. When Chris is about to kill Rose and they think the police are pulling up, she gives him up in a heartbeat and plays the victim. The first police scene in the movie was one of many examples of Rose trying to defend him in front of her parents, family and friends while secretly being a part of the plan the entire time. She purposely dresses and talks in a way that would draw him in and get him to trust her. In the end, she reveals her true self by taking her parents’ side and aiding in his capture. She even changes her clothing and hair back to their original style after the plan unfolded. Just like in the beginning of the movie when the man walking in the nice neighborhood starts to feel uncomfortable and flee, Chris tries to escape. But again like the black man in the beginning of the movie, he is quickly captured before he has a chance to escape.
In Chris’ case, Rose was his gag and instead of a trunk, he went into a mental confinement, a sunken place. The audience watching the movie sat in suspense while Chris was captured, time and time again in this sunken place. This sunken place was more powerful than any physical restraint. Another point I think Peele wanted to make clear, is that when someone has hold over your psyche they control you and this control surpasses any physical harm they can do to you. Thankfully, Peele also makes sure to include some hope in the movie. Even though everyone thought that Chris was a goner and that they were going to kill him, he escaped. Not only did Chris use quick thinking to escape but he used the very things that they used to contain him, to break free. From the cotton in his ears to the chair that they had him tied to (which is symbolic in itself) to killing Rose’s father with the deer horns of the deer head he had on the wall, he outsmarted them and escaped. Despite all the tools he used to escape, Chris wouldn’t have made it out without the help of his friend. He made it very close to the finish line on his own but it took his friend being there at the right moment for him to fully break free. I could go on and on about the symbolism in this movie because there is so much to draw on, but I will cut it short.
I do believe that this movie was a message to the young black people of today. Not that we shouldn’t date outside of our race, even though many people feel that way, but that we must escape and overcome. We need to break free of the mental chains that society has placed on us. Chains that started with the white man through deception, going back to slave days. We must use our wit and strength, thinking ahead and using the resources that we have, to escape. Avoid falling into deception as it comes in many forms, some blatant and some not so obvious. Once we are free of the mental hold that they have on us, that is when we will truly be free. More importantly, we must stick together. Not only do we need to use our minds and other tools to escape, but we need our friends as a support system. We cannot go through this fight alone and it is only when we come together, listen to each other and help each other out that we will truly overcome. These are the kinds of issues we discuss in Professor Zebulon Miletsky’s class on Black Nationalism at Stony Brook University. If this isn’t a case for Black Nationalism, then I don’t know what is.