• Rose East

Get Out (2017)

It’s now impossible to separate Black History Month from Get Out regarding the horror genre and Black cinema. Just the idea of the movie itself made me embarrassingly excited but the sneaking fear emerged that this too would be a regretful caricature for the judgmental to point to. That it could devolve into stereotypes seen through the lens of those that wish to paint a broad, negative portrait of an entire population of people. Luckily enough it is the opposite.

There’s been a grace period of almost five years for those who have not seen it to either see it or accept that they will be exposed to spoilers, so I don’t feel the need to explain the plot points in detail. I mean at this point what hasn’t been said about this film, from the stellar acting performances, shock ending, stunning cinematography, and stand out directing I can think of anything else to add in that department.

From my highly novice perspective I can however in good conscious comment on parts of the movie that I genuinely loved. From the apartment and occupation of Chris Washington, played by the extremely talented Daniel Kaluuya, to his overly reassuring girlfriend who we love to hate Rose Armitage, excellently played by Allison Williams. Details that we assume are Rose being an ally and supporter to her boyfriend during this visit with her white savior complex parents are Rose’s attempts to ensure her family can carry out their devious business model without unwanted detection.

Even the location of the house with which Chris is visiting is a big nope from Black viewers, an upper-class home in the middle of the forest? I think the heck not. You would think that after how many times their parents have entertained Black guests before auctioning them off in secret, they’d be far better at communicating with them and not saying out of pocket things like referring to President Obama but perhaps this is an intellectual cat and mouse game between them and their prey.

The only family member who isn’t coming off as a White liberal is the brother, Jeremy Armitage, played by Caleb Landry Jones but even this character has their place in this set up. Jeremy is the one family member who shows outward disdain for their guest and has trouble hiding their true intentions, but this is almost more respectable than the sham of a show Rose and her parents put on as if Chris is incapable of picking up on their tension. It’s a clear call out to White liberals who purport themselves to be allies but have sneaking intentions under that and are quick to turn their back on the wellbeing of the very people they are allying for.

Not unlike a slave auction Chris is purchased by the highest bidder who wants Chris for his photography talents and keen eye. This is interesting due to it not being a stereotypical desirable Black trait like speed or graceful aging (the Armitage grandfather who took a beat down from Jesse Owen’s motivations for a host or the grandmother’s desire to age beautifully). Not to say he wasn’t bid on for other reasons by other crazies at the auction.

Speaking of the auction, everyone is not so shockingly White, but one couple happens to be Asian. This by no means is an original thought of mine but I still believe it’s worth mentioning the proximity Asian communities have to whiteness and white privilege while still being a part of the POC community. In the years since this movie came out COVID ravaged the world, and the origin country of China sparked Asian discrimination and hate crimes. As quickly as White privilege cracked its doors to this community, they threw them out in the cold yet again. Another cruel piece of evidence that no POC truly prospers under the oppressive systems at hand and the true proximity is with other POC.

Another interesting aspect that could relate to current times is the idea that Black on White crime is in excess, and that the pendulum doesn’t swing the other way. Those of us who are not operating from a bias standpoint of course know this to be false but that the movie is centered around organized White on Black crime is not lost on me. With the increase discussion of racial violence at the hands of the mostly White police departments in the United States Get Out is a horror movie mirror held up to that.

Get Out is an instant classic that ignited mass interest in Black cinema and specifically Black horror, a genre that the Black community usually only represented in when it came to the characters to die first. The ideas and subsequent movies born out of this new interest have been magnificent and without Get Out it’s hard to tell if those would have come to fruition or would have been left on the cutting room floor once presented to money hungry execs. Even if the interest is rooted in monetary gain and looking like the good guys I’ll take it if more Black talent is heard, seen, and spread.