Detoxaholic is in total awe of Jordan Peele’s directorial debut film Get Out. I have been a fan of Jordan since his sketch comedy show, Key & Peele, debuted on Comedy Central back in 2012 alongside his hilariously talented co-creator/host Keegan-Michael Key.
To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect from Get Out. Although I loved the Key & Peele franchise, I was not a fan of their film Keanu (2016). I thought the plot was intended for a younger audience, and I did not find that particular brand of slap-stick humor amusing at all.
But to my surprise, Sir Jordan really flexed his vast intellect and immense talent as a filmmaker on audiences with this film. There wasn’t a single hole in the entire plot of the film, the storyline and the editing were seamless, he did a stellar job of directing the super talented cast of the film, and I loved how he cleverly used the social horror genre as a tool to effectively exhibit the social, psychological, and physical trauma that African-Americans have endured for centuries in the United States.
To briefly summarize the plot, the film is about a twenty-something African-American photographer who is invited by his Caucasian girlfriend to meet her family for the first time at their reclusive compound for the weekend. Although his girlfriend assures him that her family will be fine with the fact that they’re an interracial couple, the young man obliges her request but still hesitant of her family’s reaction to him. But once he enters their beautiful but creepy home, hoping their interracial love goes over well with his girlfriend’s family becomes the least of his worries.
As I begin my love fest for this film, I have to start with my new #YummyYeah nominee, actor Daniel Kaluuya. He gives a stellar performance as the protagonist of the film, Chris Washington. I loved his strong screen presence, and his best scenes are the ones that held little to no dialogue. I especially loved how the film had a repetitive shot motif of close-ups of Chris’s eyes in the film. It was a great tool used by Jordan Peele to show Chris’s battle against the “white gaze”. The “white gaze” is a concept coined by George Yancy, Professor of Philosophy at Duquesne University. Yancy described it as a way of non-white members of society looking at the world through the eyes of a white person who has undertones of, or is blatant in, their racism.
The best example of this concept in the film motif of the “sunken place” sequences. Chris’s girlfriend Rose, her mother Missy is a hypnotherapist. Rose tells her parents that Chris has a smoking habit that he can’t seem to quit. Rose’s mother offers to hypnotize Chris to kick his smoking habit, but Chris politely refuses the offer. But one evening as Chris is in the study room with Missy telling her about his mother’s death, he doesn’t realize that she is actually hypnotizing him. As he shares more about the night of his mother’s death, it leaves him vulnerable to successfully fall under her hypnosis. For the audience to realize that Chris is hypnotized, there is a surreal visual transition in the sequence and Chris is yelling in fear and falling from a dark sky. As he looks up, there is a dark sky with a movie projector showing Missy’s face telling Chris he’s in the sunken place. He can hear and see her and all of his surroundings, but he doesn’t have any control; and he’s watching his life on a movie projector screen, and someone else is controlling his actions.
Personally, it was awesome symbolism for the psychological trauma of African Americans in the United States – especially during slavery. From the rise of African people being kidnapped from their native countries to the American colonies, it traumatized their souls. People of the African diaspora in America during slavery were treated as puppets, with the master’s family using every part of their bodies, even their minds and souls, as an entity to conquer and control. In my view, the sunken place represents the uncontrollable and paralyzing anguish of being robbed of your consciousness, language, culture, religion, and familial structures.
Another great topic the film touches on is the disturbing history of the scientific experimentation of African Americans. Various historical instances of this topic are experiments conducted on the Tuskegee Airmen, prisoners, corpses, and the list goes on.
Particularly in the film, Chris is eventually held hostage by Rose’s entire family. They plan to operate on Chris to give his eyes to a wealthy, middle-aged white man named Jim Hudson. Jim buys Chris’s eyes at a silent auction secretly held at Dean and Missy’s (Rose’s parent’s) garden party. Jim Hudson is blind but he is a famous and rich art dealer. Jim desires Chris’s eye and talent as a respected photographer to ultimately complete his already affluent life. This sequence is so terrifying because Chris’s life is instantly viewed as a commodity to fulfill their selfish pleasures and insecurities. It’s not a situation where someone is donating an organ by choice to give to someone to save their life, it’s merely for greedy wealthy people that disregard the value of black lives.
A great book to read that provides a great analysis about the buried history of medical genocide against people of the African diaspora in Western nations is Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington. A dear friend of mine that is a Physician Assistant referenced this book during a conversation we had analyzing the Get Out film, and she highly recommends it.
Overall, Get Out receives a hundred percent #detoxstamp of approval. I’m not a major fan of horror/thriller suspense films, but Jordan Peele’s spin on the genre has me completely hooked and I’m so excited to see his future projects. Don’t wait until this movie comes out of DVD, streams, or on Netflix. Go to the theaters and support this instant cult classic – trust me, you won’t be disappointed