Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Deeper Meaning Behind 'Get Out'

SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVE NOT WATCHED 'GET OUT'!

One of my all time favourite horror films is 2005's The Skeleton Key. In case you haven't watched that film (spoiler alert), two black slaves in New Orleans use voodoo magic to exchange bodies with their white masters' children. They grow up, get old, find younger white people to exchange bodies with and continue to prolong their lives across almost three generations. One of their final victims is the character played by Kate Hudson. I watched this movie more than ten years after it was released. Despite really enjoying this film because it was fun and had something important to say about race, I was also a little frustrated because it did not really explore its theme to the fullest.

So now, we have Get Out by Jordan Peel. In this film, the roles are reversed. Instead of oppressed black people taking over privileged white people's bodies with voodoo, it is white Negrophiliacs taking over innocent black people's bodies through surgery and hypnotism.

This film is a shout out to horror films of the past which were not just pure entertainment, but were also social commentaries on society. There are so many layers to this film that you probably missed it the first time watching it. So here is The Deeper Meaning Behind 'Get Out'.


Source: Google Images



1) Foreshadowing 

At the beginning of the film, we see Andre Hayworth being lost in a white suburb in the middle of the night. He describes this to his friend over the phone that he sticks out like a sore thumb in this area. This is not only how our hero, Chris will feel later in the movie, but how most black people feel when they are the only black person among white people. It also comes as no surprise that his abductor is a white man in a black mask kidnapping black people in a white car.

Later on, when we see Chris in his apartment, we see an enlarged photo on his wall of a white girl wearing a black mask. This foreshadows the desire of the white people in the story wanting to be black. This is also shown when the Armitage's guests wear predominantly white clothes and drive black cars.

Source: Google Images


2) Rose Armitage's True Nature

Although we get a sense of what her family is up to throughout the movie, it is only towards the final act that we learn that Rose is just as evil as them. For instance, when the police officer demands Chris show him his ID, Rose appears to be sticking up for her man by telling him this is unfair since Chris was not driving the car. This scene is particularly brilliant because it goes to show what many black people have to go through in America when faced with the police. However, it is really just Rose trying to avoid a paper trail to avoid being implicated in his eventual disappearance. 

Notice the unusual way in which Rose eats her cereal. She keeps them separated from the milk, which she drinks off a glass with a black straw. This could be read as a metaphor for segregation, where whites and nonwhites should never integrate.

Jordon Peel has really engineered each detail in each scene with such intricacy. For example, check out the picture below of Rose with Chris. Don't they resemble the American flag? Genius!

Source: Google Images



3) The Deer Metaphor

Throughout the movie, Chris has flashbacks about having killed the deer. It could be because his own mother died in a hit-and-run. However, the deer functions as a metaphor for black people throughout the movie. When we first meet Dean Armitage, he explains how much he dislikes the deer species which he claims are destroying the ecosystem. He talks about eradicating them, almost like they are a people. A male deer is called a buck. It comes as no coincidence that "black buck" was a racist slur in the past for black African-American men who refused to subject themselves to white authority. Fittingly, Dean dies in the end after being stabbed with a buck's antlers.


Source: Google Images



4) Grandpa Armitage 

The entire order known as The Order of The Coagula was founded by Rose's grandfather. At the end of the movie, it is revealed that he is still alive and resides in Walter's body. This explains all the running he does because he is a runner who lost to Jesse Owens, who then went on to represent America in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Speaking of the family name "Armitage", the name appears to be inspired from the protagonist in 20th-century horror writer H.P.Lovecraft's story, The Dunwich Horror. In Lovecraft's story, evil New England families have ties to the occult and transfer souls from one body to another. 

Source: Google Images



5) Grandma Armitage

A couple of times throughout the movie, Chris sees Georgina fixing her bangs and admiring her own beauty through her reflection. She is probably covering her lobotomy scars, just like how Walter a.k.a Grandpa Armitage is never seen without his hat. Also, there is a saying that black doesn't crack to show how black people age slowly. As an old white woman, Grandma Armitage would have wanted to stay young, which is why she wanted to be a beautiful black woman.

About the same time we discover Grandpa Armitage lives in Walter's body, we also learn Gradnma Armitage resides in Georgina's. The first time we meet Georgina is when Dean is showing Chris around the house and they come to the kitchen where she is standing. Dean describes it as his mother's favourite part of the house and that he likes to keep a piece of her there. 

Also, Dean explains, "We hired Georgina and Walter to help care for my parents. When they died, I couldn't bear to let them go." Although the pronoun 'them' might appear to refer to Georgina and Walter, we later find out that Dean's parents are still alive and it was them whom he was referring to when he said he could not bear to let them go.

Source: Google Images



6) Modern Slavery

The white people in the film are not racists. In fact, they literally want to be black. However, this has obsession of theirs has created a new form of slavery. The bingo game is eerily similar to slave auctions from back in the day. Also, notice how Chris has to escape his captive by putting stuffing into his ears to avoid being hypnotized. He was literally forced to "pick cotton."

Rose's mother, Missy Armitage controls people through the use of a silver spoon. This is synonymous with privilege, so much so that there is an idiom about it. In the Middle Ages, it was important for artisans and farmers who worked hard and looked dirty to distinguish themselves from escaped slaves. Silver spoons served as some kind of identifier or cultural marker to function as proof of who they are.

Source: Google Images



7) The White Guests

If there is anything creepier than the Armitage family, it is their house guests who are the literal opposite of racists. Although they are all dressed in predominantly black, they are wearing some for of red too. Chris stands out here because he is wearing blue denim, although he already stands out because of the colour of his skin. Perhaps these colours symbolize the two American political parties. 

Later in the party, Chris meets the blind art dealer, who himself describes himself as an irony. But what is really ironic about him is how he is a metaphor for the white liberal elite's attitude towards the African-American experience. They might act like they know everything about an black people, symbolized by art here. However, they will never actually understand it, let alone experience it for themselves. In other words, they are just like the art dealer; blind towards the real truth. 

Source: Google Images



8) That One Asian Guest

What was that Asian guy doing among these low-key evil white people? Apart from Chris and the black servants, the only other person of color is this elderly Japanese man, Notice the questions each guest asks Chris. One old white man who used to play gold asks if Chris can play. A middle-aged white lady asks if sex is better with a black man while her elderly white husband looks on. But that one Asian guest asks, “Is the African-American experience an advantage or disadvantage?” He was probably wondering would it be better to stay Asian or become black. 

There are many theories behind this. One is that Asians, despite being a smaller minority in America than black people, also were involved in slavery. Also, being Asians ourselves, Asians have always regarded whites as being more superior to us while looking down on blacks. Speaking English and practicing western culture has always been deemed respectable in our society. Even being lighter skinned is seen as being more attractive. This could be some of the reasons why the filmmakers aligned the one Asian character with white people instead of the black people. 

Source: Google Images



9) The Sunken Place

Whenever Chris is hypnotized, his mind is transported into a deep, dark, never-ending void. No matter how loudly he shouts, his voice is inaudible. Director Jordan Peele Tweeted, "The Sunken Place means we're marginalized. No matter how hard we scream, the system silences us."

Then, before he is being hypnotized for the last time in the basement, the video on the TV repeats, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste." This is actually the slogan for the United Negro College Fund.

Source: Google Images



10) The Ending

At the end of the film, when Chris is strangling Rose, what seems to be a police patrol car arrives. Chris raises his hands to surrender silently, even though he has not done anything wrong. By now, the audience would assume things are bad for him since he is black and the authorities would never believe him. However, it turns out to be Chris's TSA buddy who saves him. 

Just like in The Night of The Living Dead, this movie plays around with the troops of the horror genre by having the hero, who is black, survive at the end of the movie. However, there is an alternate ending where Chris gets arrested by the police officer who demanded for his ID in the movie's beginning. He is then imprisoned for murdering Rose, her family and their servants. However, following the series of real-life violent encounters involving African-American and the police, Jordon Peel felt his audience deserves a happier ending.

Source: Google Images

2 comments:

  1. That's a really good review of the film with description of the characters and how they performed. Thanks for sharing. It seems a good movie to watch.

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