Intro by Maria
The movie Get Out is a 2017 horror film that does so much more than just horrify and scare us. It exposes the hard-to-digest truths of racism—that racism is not just present in the American south or among elite conservatives—it is very much a part of all types of people in society, even white liberals who would have voted for Barack Obama a third time if they could have.
The movie’s protagonist is Chris, a photographer who is Black and is dating a white woman named Rose. The movie starts with Chris and Rose discussing their upcoming trip to visit Rose’s parents. Her parents have never met Chris before, and he expresses concern over this, not because he is scared of the commitment implications a parental meeting suggests, but because he is Black. He asks Rose if her parents know this, and she says, no, but she’s not concerned because her family isn’t racist. In fact, they voted for Obama, which the movie drills into our head as the equivalent of claiming: “I can’t be racist—I have a Black friend.”
So even though Chris is concerned, they drive to Rose’s parents house—the Armitages—which is located in upstate New York, a beautifully upper middle class home with plenty of space and land.
The family appears normal, but we quickly see small clues that perhaps this normality is only on the surface. The Armitages have two Black workers in their employ—a housekeeper and a groundskeeper—and the family goes to great lengths to assure Chris that these workers are not at the Armitages against their will. In fact, they’re family. But the workers act strange, and the Armitages say strange things. The scenes get even weirder when Rose’s brother arrives and exudes machismo, grilling Chris after dinner, and even trying to wrestle him. Later that night, Chris and Rose talk, and Rose realizes how racist and offensive her family actually is.
The following day, Chris meets a bunch of the Armitages’s white, liberal, upper middle class friends, and everyone immediately says the wrong thing about race. One party goer tells Chris that Black is in fashion, while another one asks for Chris’s opinion on the Black experience in America today and if it really is a disadvantage. Instead of answering, Chris asks the only other Black person at the party—a strangely dressed young man who seems to be in a relationship with an older white lady—to speak about his experiences. Chris, finding this guy’s behavior awfully strange, covertly tries to take a photo of the young man. The flash goes off, and the young man freaks out and starts bleeding from his nose. In the titular scene, he tells Chris to GET OUT before he is whisked away by the others and “saved.”
Later, the young man apologizes, claiming to be affected by a seizure, but by this point, Chris has realized something is definitely not right with the Armitages, and he is freaking out. He sends the photo to his friend Rod who immediately calls him to say that the young man is actually someone named Andre—a friend from Brooklyn who went missing a while ago. Chris’s phone loses power, and he tells Rose that something’s wrong, so they go for a walk, and Chris explains.
It’s important to note here that we, the audience, still think Rose is innocent at this point. She appears shocked by Chris’s story, but she believes him. She genuinely seems to care, and so there’s really no reason for us to think that Rose is also weird, like her family. We brace ourselves for both Chris AND Rose to meet some kind of horror movie fate as they rush in the house and decide to leave as soon as possible. It’s not until they are almost out of the door that Rose reveals herself to be in on it, too.
The Armitages real intentions are made clear when Chris wakes up, strapped to a seat, and he is told the story of how the Armitages abduct Black people and somehow surgically insert the consciousness of a white person into these abduced Black people’s minds. In essence, the Black people who are abducted become enslaved in their bodies while white people take over.
And what bigger message for a movie than this—that no matter how present a Black person can be in life, no matter how many liberals claim to not be racist—Black people are still slaves within the system. It is the message that is quite clear coming from Jordan Peele—a writer and director more known for comedy than horror (or at least, was known more for comedy back in 2017 but has since proved to be a brilliant horror director). It is a message that is still valid today, and why our podcast has been focusing on racism.
So now that I’ve re-capped the movie, it’s time to turn up the volume from your own sunken place and tune into the next episode of Peculiar Picture Show.
Overall Thoughts: A horror film with intelligence and a strong viewpoint
B: Horror film that has a lot to say and a message; first time seeing the movie; knew the twist before coming into it because read the synopsis; Jordan Peele is normally more of a comedy writer, so this was surprising
M: Jordan Peele’s feature film directorial debut; first Black Academy Award winner for original screenplay; horror film
Like: White liberal allies can be racist too
B: Well executed and well done; obvious commentary on racism; film feels true;
M: The message—how the liberal white people are the villains; no white savior; love that Peele teases us with Rose’s evilness, and she is creepy; commentary on advantages/disadvantages and special treatment vs. equal treatment; good horror film and well done; accident with deer sets the tone; humor; alternate ending is that Chris is arrested by police and is blamed for everything but changed tone because director felt people were waking up
Dislike: White people are still uncomfortable talking about racism
B: Critics are usually white people who think talking about race perpetuates racism; reviews are overwhelmingly positive.
M: I am at a loss for words.
Mental Health: Modern racism is about control, not hatred
B: More about how modern racism works, particularly with liberal whites; modern racism is not overt—its about white people controlling Black people (and this movie is about white people controlling Black people bodies)
M: Negative affects of racism
M: [Get Out] comments on the myth that white people think there’s this advantage to being black. There’s really no social advantage to being black. It’s how white people keep the racist system alive. I’ve heard the same thing about women, and about affirmative action—things like that. People think women want special treatment or black people want special treatment, when we just want equal treatment.
M: I like horror films, and I just think this is a really good fucking horror film. It’s very creepy. It’s very well-done in the horror style.
B: Even if something is not your fault, privilege carries with it an ethical responsibility to fix things. People inherently know this, and this is why it’s so uncomfortable for them to talk about it—they don’t want to admit anything is wrong because that would carry an ethical responsibility to fix it.
B: If you’re offended by progress and racial matters, surprise—you’re probably a racist. I think this movie brought that to light and people were uncomfortable with that.
B: Many white people think racism means hating black people, but often, that’s not what it looks like. You might love black entertainers and celebrities. You might even have a black person in your family that you love as much as any other family member. But you hate black people who step out of line—you love black people when they know their place, and when white people control them. That is what modern racism looks like.
12 Years a Slave (2013)