When I was younger, I loved horror movies. From Jason, Nightmare On Elm Street, Halloween, I watched them all. Back then the bogeyman was someone that we could see- Jason, Freddy Kreuger, and Michael Myers. To this day if I hear the theme music to Halloween, I can feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
In Get Out, written and directed by Jordan Peele, evil takes on a more sinister form – racism. This is much scarier than the monsters that we can see because this form of evil is pervasive, can shapeshift, can jump from person to person, is stealth, cloaked and often, people never see it coming.
It is almost as if Get Out is the 2017 Invasion of the Racist Body Snatchers. This was a theme that resonated with me because after the 2016 election, I felt that I was living in a real life horror movie. And unfortunately, I had no idea who was the bogeyman. I didn’t know who voted for this monster, who supported his evil rhetoric and who was living among me. Everywhere I went, I looked at people wondering if they were who they said they were or had they been concealing what they truly felt this entire time.
(Before I go any further, let me shut this down real quick. In Get Out, the racist White people are the villains. While I have heard rumblings about this making some White people upset, the movie industry has built an empire off the backs of Black people and Muslims being portrayed as the usual suspect. This time it is simply your turn so get in line.)
The movie opens in the apartment of Chris, an established African-American photographer, with all the accoutrements of a millennial on the rise, exposed brick and pipe in the living room, plants on the kitchen counter that take minimal care and the ever-cute dog that has been diagnosed with IBS. To complete this picture of “I have arrived”, Chris is soon greeted by his White girlfriend Rose, coming to bring coffee and breakfast muffins, before they begin their trip to visit Rose’s parents. Funny how success can make you forget that indeed, you are Black too.
Although they have been dating for five months, Chris finally decides to ask Rose if she has told her parents that he is Black. If you have ever dated outside of your race, and I have, we all know that question. While you and your significant other are cool, you want to know just how many generations that “coolness” goes back. Like are you the generation that is cool and your parents are still stuck in Jim Crow cool and your grandparents think I should be out tending to their land cool? What level of “I am not racist”, has been achieved in your family? Let me know. Rose assures Chris, her family is “I-would-vote-for-Obama-a-third-term-if-I-could” cool. I love how voting for Obama is now the measuring stick for how NOT racist someone is. I believe that has almost surpassed my best friend is Black.
They embark on a trip to visit her parents and this is where my spidey senses start to go up. There were just a few things I noted in this movie:
- Don’t EVER go on a road trip with any White person in the backwoods of ANY town. EVER! I don’t care where we are going I am NOT riding in the backwoods of some random town with White people and I am the ONLY Black person. I am always thinking where are we going and who the hell do you know back here? If something pops off I already know The Children of the Corn aint gonna let me go. We have heard enough stories about Black people coming up missing in the backwoods of some town. Nope. If we are going to visit your parents they better live in a city, right off a highway exit or I can’t come!
- When Black people are “the help”…RUN! I don’t care how you slice it, I will always look at White people with a raised eyebrow that has Black people serving them grits, doing their laundry and ironing their clothes. In this day and age, White people clean houses too. Hire them.
- When the parents ask you, “How long has ‘this thang’ been going on”, PACK YOUR DAMN BAGS! This thang? I am leery of White people that feel the need to put on a ‘blackcent’ when they are around Black people. Nope. Be who you are. If you can’t, I wonder what you are concealing.
- When EVERYONE is WHITE, look for the exits. I have been in many situations where I am the only Black person and trust and believe I have scoped out the exits 20 times over. I know how to get out, how long it’s gonna take to get out, who I might need to drop a 2 piece and a biscuit on to get out.
- STOP trusting EVERY White person that says they aren’t racist! There are many people that think they aren’t racist because they voted for Obama, have 2.5 Black friends, or listen to Beyonce and John Legend. They can still be racist! Listen and observe EVERYTHING! People can only pretend for so long. Eventually a racist joke, story, assumption will come out.
- Tell your Black friends where you are going. Look I get it, you are grown but everyone needs a friend like Rodney. In Get Out, Rodney knew something wasn’t right with
BeckyRose and sometimes you need your Black friend to talk to you down. I know we are growing, this is 2017 and we are all trying to unite but there is just some shit I am not going to allow my Black friends to do. Bungee jumping, skydiving, real camping, deep sea diving, eating White people’s potato salad, you just aint gonna be allowed to do it. LISTEN TO YOUR BLACK FRIENDS! We love you and we have your back!
Get Out was an ingenious movie that utilized a very real subject matter that many Black people are dealing with today to create a horror movie that spoke to racism, police relations, the history of Black people and medicine, interracial relationships and a host of other issues. While in a Hollywood setting, these are issues that Black people face daily and Jordan Peele utilized a medium that can create a pathway for conversations. I am always intrigued by those that use art in a way that can open a door for social critique. Get Out pulls from real life situations and places them in a setting that can allow the viewer to chew the reality of what Peele is getting at in bite sized pieces. For Black people, this is not just a movie. Google Henrietta Lacks, or the Tuskegee Experiment if you want to understand how White people have utilized medicine to victimize and take advantage of Black people. Google James Byrd Jr., if you want to know how the story ends when a Black man went off with White people that pretended they were his friends. Getting questioned by the police is not just something that happens in the movies. Accounts of Black men and women unlawfully stopped are countless with many of these stops ending in death.
This is reality. Even as scared as I may have been watching Jason, Freddie Krueger or Michael Myers, I knew I could turn the TV off and the movie was over. In Get Out, I walked out of the theater knowing the bogeyman was indeed real and although the credits were rolling, art simply blended with real life. I looked over my shoulder as I walked to my car, wondering how long I would have to live this nightmare…