On Jordan Peele’s Get Out (2017) – spoiler free review

by Jacqueline Valencia

There is so much I could say about this Jordan Peele’s Get Out. However, in an effort to not spoil the film for any readers the best thing I can do is give you my reasons why I feel this is an important film. I’ll be linking a few reviews if you’d like through this, but first here’s the trailer:

 

I’m a mixed Latin American woman from Canada. My dad is black and my mom is white. One weekend when I was wee, we went on a random road trip. No real destination, but we ended up in some place near Rochester, New York. We stopped off at a mall and I don’t know what made my little girl self look around. For some reason, I became keenly aware that my dad, sister, and I were the only people of colour in the mall. I told my dad and he kind of looked at me and said something like, “You’re right. Let’s choose another place to eat at, mi hija.” So we drove to the nearest well-known fast food chain and I guess, the familiarity of it made me feel…safer.

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There’s a feeling of dread that happens to a person of colour, one of not being wanted in places or belonging because of my skin colour. I became aware of it that day on our road trip. I feel it in places like at a poetry reading when I look out at a sea of white faces. I look for a face with my colour just to feel ok.  I felt it when one of my white friends took me to a country bar which she was adamant I’d have fun in and, “Don’t be silly, you being there wouldn’t be weird.” Oh, it got weird. And that time your white friend told you that they’d never had a bad experience travelling to small towns, “We should all travel!” she exclaimed. Yeah, but you don’t know do you? And there were the few times at the goth bar where a couple of my fellow POC friends and I just looked out on the dance floor and would say, “If they turn into zombies, we got each other right?” We laughed and joked about it, but what could possibly happen? I have no idea, but there’s a pit that drops in the gut each time. There’s a voice in the back of our heads that says, “Get out.”

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The dreaded feeling gets confirmed when you’re spat at while having a picnic with your family in a park. Another day someone yells a racial epithet at you because you won’t let them butt in line (which is something that happened to me the morning before seeing this film). Then a white supremacist gets elected in the U.S., even with when his racist behaviour has been proven time and time again. 

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Get Out takes that unspoken fear and plays with it to the highest frequency. It connects and disconnects, (especially for a mixed person person like me), where you can be cast as both the victim and at times, the oppressor. It reminds you that you can be out in the open and no one will able to see what you are seeing or what is happening to you. A get together with people trying to make themselves comfortable in your presence creates a space filled with micro aggressions. In turn, and without even thinking about it, you go default, you get smaller, subjugate yourself, get sunken in, to the every day survival teleplay of, “I must conform to make people comfortable with the colour of my skin.” You feel like you need to stop being the other.

If you take your concerns about how you feel in these situations, more often than not you are told you are crazy, or that you’re just too sensitive. The reality is you’re being gaslighted aka hypnotized to maintain a sense of normalcy. This is colonization.

That’s a terrifying scene and Peele harnesses scenarios like those above and places them in a familiar horror film mould. You can see Hitchcock-ian and Lynch-ian influences and lots of slasher flick nods. Daniel Kaluuya does an excellent performance as Chris, the man whose eyes we see from (I highly recommend this link btw). 

At this point I’m just rambling, but this is mostly to say that I need to see this film again to continue to parse what I saw. It’s time we started seeing stories based on the uncomfortable to promulgate awareness of the visceral anxiety we mute to maintain the status quo. This is not ok. It’s not ok.

*****************

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** Thanks 50 Ft Queenie for this link!: Get Out Perfectly Captures the Terrifying Truth About White Women

Things you may have missed in Get Out: https://www.buzzfeed.com/erinchack/things-you-may-have-missed-in-get-out

*An interview with Jordan Peele (spoilers in it)

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