Jordan Peele broke records with Get Out – the first black writer and director to have his film gross more than $100 million at box office. This fact has been etched into our brains and it’s a part of the problem that Peele is trying to highlight. Why is the first thing the industry sees his skin colour? To me this fact just disguises and undermines the achievements of Jordan Peele.
In reality, Peele is among an elite group of only seventeen Hollywood directors whose first films grossed more than $100 million at box office. And yes, while he is in fact the first African American in the group, not including Peele in the group or comparing him to his talented equals such as Clint Eastwood, Ridley Scott and Martin Scorsese, adds injury to insult after the issues Peele just highlighted in his hit film.
Get Out follows Chris Washington (played by Daniel Kaluuya) on his visit to meet the family of his girlfriend, Rose Armitage (played by Allison Williams). The pair journey to the family estate and experience a slight hick up along the way. At this early stage in the film the audience is eased into what is to be the films motif of modern day or liberal racism. The couple finally arrive at the estate and Washington meets the seemingly normal family, who are exceptionally welcoming. And it’s a downward spiral from there.
As Peele gets deeper into his story he shows the audience the uglier side of liberal racism. Of course at first the audience experiences the light hearted side of things; publicly acknowledging that one isn’t racist or that one accepts black people, using “black” slang to communicate, and other general harmless micro-aggressions that many people experience on a daily basis, even in the UK. However as the story unfolds we begin to see the hard truth about modern day racism.
To me the story emulates the opinions about modern day slavery, through cultural appropriation and oppression through the use of prison and low-education systems. But that many African Americans feel they could not break through the system without the literal “camera flash” of social media – where people can display and share unjust experiences, and empower and educate each other.
The brilliance of the whole picture is that through Peele’s unforgiving delivery of what it’s really like to be black in the western world in 2017, he manages to keep the integrity of the horror story. Peele kept true to his comedic roots and broke the tense sense up with some light humour in the right places. The score was intricately pieced together by Michael Abels, another black Hollywood first timer.
The cast, full of up-coming talent, kept the energy high throughout the film and ensured that I stayed engaged in the satirical world until the very end. The recurring theme of hypnosis and unconscious suggestibility pierced skin deep, through the screen, as I found myself mirroring Chris Washingtons anxiety. All the while, the cleverly picked title “Get Out” bounced around my head – was this a warning or a threat? “Get Out”, a racial aggression or same-race support?
Peele thankfully does give us an answer, but what is so satisfying about this film is that the answer will differ for different people – provoking thought and conversation about liberal racism. Peele has given us all a rude awakening and a hard pill to swallow. But it only takes the push of one great person to continue to aid much needed change in the modern world.
Director: Jordan Peele
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener and Caleb Landry Jones