The thriller's most anxiety-inducing moments can feel commonplace to the everyday life of a person of color
***Editor's Note: This column contains major plot spoilers. Do not read if you intend to see “Get Out” and want to keep elements of the film a surprise.***
At this point, I'm sure you've seen Jordan Peele's behind-the-camera debut, “Get Out,” or at least know someone who has an opinion on it.
Race and interracial relationships are central to the perils of the protagonist, Chris, whose weekend trip to his girlfriend's family's estate places him squarely in the middle of a horror plot.
While the movie hits a significant climax when things go macro in its third act, the film is, as a friend put it, a horror movie built of microaggressions.
Even in the fictional “Get Out,” there were way too many instances (with intent by Peele) that felt way too commonplace to the everyday life of a person of color.
Legacy of Chattel Slavery
After the audience learns Chris is due to be auctioned off to the highest bidder, it becomes clear the woman feeling up his arm at the party was actually testing out the merchandise. Kicking the tires, if you will. The fetishizing of black bodies has a legacy back to the slavery auction block, and is still a dehumanizing practice. I wish I could recall every situation where someone invited themselves into contact with my body as casually as they said hello.
I, too, was a big Obama fan
Nothing says, “I'm not actually racist for that racist thing I just said or did,” like saying, “I voted for a black president.” When Rose advances this disclaimer about her father “liking” black people, it is an attempt to make 2+2 = 5. That's like saying, “He can't be racist, he watches a lot of NBA games.”
The great white cosign
After a car accident, the police officer asks to see Chris' license even though it's established that Rose was the one driving. The officer is insistent until Rose stonewalls him (which we later learn isn't noble, but merely eliminating any paper trail on Chris). Many people of color will tell you a similar story, where the tone of an authority member changed once there was a white person on hand to offer validation.
What's race got to do with it?
When Chris is in stage two of the operation where his body will become a vessel for another person's mind, his soon-to-be-new-resident, Jim, is trying to “strengthen the bond.” Chris' last question to Jim is why they are choosing black people to use as vessels. Jim states it's not about his race, but possibly a “fad they are going through.” Nah, Jim. It's because black people are seen as disposable. This is possibly the most harmful use of “I just don't see color” that we've witnessed.