When fiction gets too real

At my big age of 24, I completely lost it in the cinema. Like I fully lost all composure when she…

I would like to start by admitting I am not a horror fan. I don’t understand the reasoning behind paying someone to scare you but with that in mind, I was terribly excited for Get Out ever since I watched the trailer. I have been a fan of Jordan Peele since his Key and Peele days, which showed his remarkable ability to bring nuance into complex issues. Such skill made me confident that his first film would be good. And he did NOT disappoint. Get Out is a masterpiece.

Simply because [for at least some of the audience] the horror is all too real.

You can trivialize horror movies when the bogeymen are fantastical beasts or supernatural atrocities but when the bogeyman is a system of oppression that exists to marginalize black people, the jump scares become amplified when you really think about them.

It has been a while since the film was released but like a fine wine, it only gets better with time. It is ripe with references and symbolism so with only an initial viewing here are just a few musings from me. (I am assuming you have seen it so I won’t rehash the entire story but if you haven’t all the spoilers will be spoiled so read at your own peril).

As a black male, the film resonated with me in a way few others have or can. Not only could I see myself in Chris’ shoes, as he maneuvered through the many awkward conversations in the film, in my mind’s eye I recalled the same situations. If I had a penny for every time I heard a micro-aggression like those depicted in the film, I would be writing this post from my yacht. The assumptions of athleticism, the sexual innuendos, the subtle racism that can drive you crazy.

On first glance, it is easy to like Rose as she seems nice enough, shows affection for Chris and even weaponizes her privilege to defend him from a cop (this prevents the encounter from escalating as has become all too common). But she fails the litmus test of being #woke because she ignores and often actively belittles his concerns when the racism isn’t all that overt. This drove me crazy because micro-aggressions are not harmless, they can build up and become paranoia that affects black people on a mental level. The continual analyzing of conversations and moments when you felt you were slighted but you’re not quite sure. This subtle and insidious strain of racism can fill you with doubt and keep you in a state of uncertainty. This begs the question what is worse overt racism – signified by both verbal and physical abuse or micro-agressions – that can break you down over time? (In the case of the film, such micro-agressions are not innocuous and actually signify the beginning of our protagonist’s troubles).

This movie is insanely clever (rich enough to write a dissertation on) and it uses this intellect to deconstruct, among other concepts, the idea of white women being damsels in distress. In one of the many twists of this tale, it is revealed that dear sweet Rose is complicit in all the happenings in her family home [of horror]. This revelation hit me like a truck and at my big age of 24, I completely lost it in the cinema. Like I fully lost all composure when she switched her demeanour in the pivotal scene where Chris is desperately trying to leave as the charade of sanity within the home quickly erodes. Throughout the scene in question and scenes leading up to it, I gave Rose every excuse;

  • She probably doesn’t realize how racist her brother Jeremy and dad Dean are
  • Her car keys must have been taken from her
  • Maybe she has been hypnotized so she can’t find the keys
  • She has probably been hypnotized by her mother Missy so that she doesn’t remember all the things that have happened (my personal favourite that absolves her of all blame)

I did not even consider the fact that she could be in on the family business even in the face of the overwhelming evidence (pictures of past black exes, the convenient timing of their trip to coincide with the Armitages’ annual get-together or the fact that nobody takes that long to find damn keys 😡).

The lengths I went to in defense of her in my mind really made me self-evaluate my complicity in the phenomenon of female whiteness as a shield. This is not a new thing, it is the same construct that allowed Kendall Jenner to be given a pass for her involvement in the Pepsi advert debacle and the same thing that enables Katie Hopkins to spew venom with reckless abandon.

Furthermore, I was struck by how the violence to white women in the film was tempered while the only on-screen death of a black woman was graphically shown. Truth be told, Missy is arguably the biggest villain of the film due to the psychological trauma she puts Chris through by dredging up his painful past but is shown the most respect as her death is off-screen. Likewise, Rose is never actually killed on-screen (although we can pray that she bleeds out from her wounds because that kind of evil needs to be killed with 🔥 ). Contrast this with Georgina’s death that sees her body strewn lifeless as her head is smashed against the car window screen. This conditioning to think of violence towards white women as abhorrent but towards black women as acceptable is another perk of whiteness, even in death your modesty remains.

Something else that irked me was the ease with which Missy assigned the blame of Chris’ mother’s death to him. The exchange between him and Missy that leads to his first visit to the Sunken Place is one that played on my mind for a while until I thought of my own childhood.

Growing up I was the eldest of three and would on occasion take care of my two younger sisters, after school when my mother was still at work. We lived in a safe neighbourhood and in the case of emergency I knew I could call on my best friend’s elder sister as they lived a few doors down. The golden rule (as any child of a single parent, who has left you at home will tell you) is don’t attract attention to yourself. (Of course, this rule was broken by my sister who attempted to call the police when she wasn’t getting her own way but that’s another story…). Looking at the actions of young Chris through this lens, it is completely understandable [to me] why he didn’t call the police when his mum didn’t return at the normal time. Such an action would have alerted authorities to his ‘abandonment’ and gotten his mother in more trouble. You can’t blame a boy for adhering to an unwritten code that tries to facilitate single parents in their attempts to do it all, by themselves. (Shame on you Missy for using this against him, shame!).

I am not a violent person but it was beyond satisfying seeing Chris strangle Rose. So much so that my heart sank when I saw the red and blue lights as even though I had witnessed the whole story I still instantly knew he was screwed. You see as I hinted at earlier relations between police and the black community aren’t copacetic by any means (you just learned a new way to say ‘in excellent order’ #you’rewelcome). So although I knew, you knew and Chris knew that bitch had it coming – his ass was grass when those red and blue lights came into view. (And of course that bitch knew too as she was oh so quick to play the victim card like a Pokemon pro and use the attack – victim crying help which would have been super effective – if not for man like Rod, pray for friends like him 🙏🏾). And for anyone thinking well, of course, he would have been in trouble he was in the ‘wrong’, recent history has shown us plainly that you can do everything ‘right’ and still end up dead (rest in power #JordanEdwards).

The last thing that struck me about this story is a special point that should be universally known  – black women remain magical creatures too good for this earth #blackgirlmagic ✨. Let me explain using Georgina, Detective Latoya and my mother. First, I cannot adequately express how much I appreciate the fictional character of Georgina and her strength. The fact she was the only character able to break out of the Sunken Place without the aid of external stimuli (as seen by her uncontrollable crying in her interaction with Chris in his room) is a testimony to that.

The real MVP of the film 😢

Not only does this crying serve to demonstrate to Chris that his hunches are correct and all is not well, it also highlights the lengths black women often go to in service of black men. Neither her tears nor the continued opening of the door containing pictures of other victims (and thus further proof for Chris to get the fuck out) brings her out of the Sunken Place, these actions only serve to help Chris. She knows it is over for her but she is still fighting to save Chris, this kind of sacrifice is as true an example of love as you’ll find.

Detective Latoya shows you another kind of love – tough love. You see when Rod went to tell her his (and let’s be honest) crazy-ass story, I imagined as did Rod that she would be Chris’ saviour. I mean tell a black woman that you messed up, got caught up with a white she-devil and she’ll come running to save you right? Nah nigga (Nope). As amazing and supportive as they are, black men can’t mess up and always expect black women to catch us when we fall and Latoya’s character perfectly illustrates this – you got yourself in this, so you’d better get yourself out.

Finally, as any woman will tell you, she’s always right. This belief has some scientific basis as mothers often spend more time with their babies and thus are afforded an opportunity to sharpen their ability to read body language and other non-verbal communication as they interact with their progeny early on. Such experiences refine their natural intuition and ability to read others (how often has a friend your mum has warned you is no good turned out to be in fact no good #mumisalwaysright). So I say with complete confidence as much as I can see myself in Chris’ shoes, you wouldn’t catch me at the Armitages’ family home. Nope, my mum would have seen right through Becky (I mean Lauren, dang no Caitlin, sorry I mean Rose). Chris was vulnerable because he lacked a strong female figure in his life and support structure, who would have warded off Delilahs looking to bring his downfall.

Stray observations

  • Again I’d like to stress I’m not a violent person but I do love a good stomp. There was something so satisfying about the one Chris delivered to Jeremy (aka KKK brother).
  • The tagline of the trailer – “a mind is a terrible thing to waste” is as horrifying as it is true.
  • The fact that Dean spoke about how little he cared for bucks (a racist slur for black men who refused white authority) and was killed by a buck’s antlers is outstanding. As he proudly and with his chest displayed his covert racism it was only fitting that he was stabbed through it. (Honestly, I swear I’m not violent 😭).
  • Fact is scarier than fiction as tragically a number of black and brown girls were reported missing in Washington DC.
  • The way the film used microaggressions to tie into the ‘slave auction’ made me draw parallels with modern-day sporting drafts like for the NBA and NFL particularly. The amount of value that is placed on black bodies is in contrast to our minds as we are often encouraged to take up sport a lot more readily than we are to read or explore the sciences.
  • The false embrace of coolness of people throughout the film was as grating as it is in real life, ‘my man’ or ‘I know Tiger’. Please stop this forever🖐🏾.
  • The scene with the separate coloured cereal and milk will never leave me or allow me to look at cereal the same way.
  • A red flag for me was that they have sex in her parent’s house (you’d be signing your own death warrant in an African home). This also gave me a pig to the slaughter vibe in the way that farmers allow pigs to eat to their heart’s content right up until they are slaughtered.
  • This movie really played with the concept of the white saviour. The two white characters that seem to be on Chris’ side the most are actually two of the worst as Jim Hudson, the blind art dealer attempts to purchase his body – wanting his ‘eye’ while Rose was the hunter that caught him as fresh prey for her family.
  • The Sunken Place is even scarier than you think – how many of us reside there due to code switching (switching up the words we use based on our company) than we realize and how often do we do it. Are you truly yourself most of the time?
  • It’s crazy that even though Chris tells Rose about the strange happenings with Walter and Georgina he assumes something is wrong with them and that they have a problem with him. This goes back to that white saviour complex and the conditioning a lot of ethnic people have to see others as dangerous due to negative and pervasive mainstream depictions of us as gang members, terrorists etc.
  • Honestly, this film is just too much, as if we haven’t endured enough black mirror shenanigans recently.

Anyway, this is just what I got out of Get Out please tell me what you deciphered from it below and let’s get this conversation going.

Peace and Love,

Aharoun the Author

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3 thoughts on “When fiction gets too real

  1. Øracle says:

    Wow Jordan you can write. And you can write so well. Very interesting to see your take on the film. And I love those stray observations 😂. Your consistency is amazing. Keep it up.

    Liked by 1 person

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