Am I the only one who lives for all the intelligent, positive, thought-provoking films for and by Black folks coming out recently? Like honestly, I am still feeling the tingles from Hidden Figures and am often reminded of some of its scenes. Last Saturday was date night and I grudgingly agreed to go see the movie Get Out. To be honest, other than seeing the trailer pop up on social media a few times, I hadn’t paid much attention to it. I thought to myself, “this is probably your run-of-the-mill horror movie and um…ain’t nobody got time for that”. Plus, I am not a huge fan of Peele’s style of comedy.
Nothing prepared me for what came once the tape started rolling. This movie became personal for us very quickly and we haven’t stopped talking about it since.
The most intriguing aspect for me was Peele’s ability to say soooo much about the plight of talented, educated Black folks without being explicit. Anyone who finds him or herself in spaces dominated by White people can probably relate. Sure, on the surface, the movie is about a young, Black man in an interracial dating relationship who is invited to his girlfriend’s home for the weekend. He deals with series of strange behaviors from his guests, and his stay culminates in a very real struggle for his life. What the writer did though, was layer in so much symbolism, that as a proudly Woke Black person, I found myself clutching my seat, though not from literal horror.
Here are a few profound moments I picked up on…oh, btw…spoiler alert if you haven’t seen this.
“I would have voted for Obama for a third term if I could”.
When Rose tells Chris about her liberal, WASP-y father, she is intent on making sure he understands her father is not racist. Said father repeats this to Chris when they meet. One gets the sense it’s a line they’ve used often. Like the White person who has to remind everyone that they are not racist because they have a Black friend. As though having a Black friend is the same as having a puppy or making a donation to Goodwill. Very few things irritate me more than a White person who believes that having a very distant relationship with a person of color (or even simply being aware of said person, e.g. Obama) absolves them of all racism.
Hypnosis and The Sunken Place
The Armitages used hypnosis and neurology to enslave and exploit talented Black people for their own advantage. Hmmm….where have I seen or heard that before? The use of hypnosis is analogous to the existence of most of us in Corporate. When you get up in the morning, put on your business casual, sit in traffic, stare at your screen for hours and then head back home, return and repeat…are you conscious? Are you alive? Are you aware of your actions? What about your speech? Or do you now subconsciously use barely coherent phrases like “circle back”, “touch base” and “close the loop”?
Are you happy? Are you you? Or are you in the Sunken Place, where your soul is hidden from view and you can only watch others but cannot participate? In this film, rich, White people, using hypnosis, found a way to inhabit Black bodies and minds, because they were perceived to be physically superior. Is your mind being inhabited by you? Or someone else?
Superiority: Physical v. Mental
Speaking of “physically superior”, it should not go unnoticed that in the end, it was intelligence, mental superiority and clever thinking that enabled Chris to escape alive. This age-old stereotype that reduces Black people to physical bodies was definitely at play here. We see this in the commentary of Mr Armitage as he describes his father’s disappointment when he was defeated in track by a Black man. Or in a White woman literally groping Chris, a complete stranger to her, saying how muscular he was. Black women’s bodies are routinely reduced to sexual objects and I have even seen signs of this at work! Never let any stereotypes about Black people dictate or restrict your space and choices.
Watch out for word vomit
Have you ever had a conversation with someone at work and then realized that you may have overshared? I have. Chris’ fate changed the moment he started telling Mrs. Armitage his personal family business. That was the key she needed to get into his head and “enslave” him. While it is important to bond with coworkers, it is critical to avoid sharing personal information that can be used against you in any way. I feel so strongly about oversharing, I wrote a full post on this topic here.
I rarely purchase movies but I intend to have this one in my collection as a reminder to keep my wits about me as I navigate this Corporate world. And when all is said and done, I need to know when it’s time to Get Out.