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The following is something that I have to write as a recently twenty-something, now early thirty-something, black male who grew up surrounded by a lot of white people. Get Out hits “home” in some particular parts, but it also brings attention to a larger message – that everyone must be featured in order for all of us to understand each other better.
In Get Out, there was a moment where Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) is being introduced to Rose Armitage’s (Allison Williams) family and friends. Lisa Deets (Ashley LeConte Campbell), who's there for the Armitage family annual get-together, meets Chris and proceeds to eye and feel him up as if he were a piece of property; different than being a “piece of meat.” It looked different, it felt different. It was as if he was a precious antique that she could add to her personal collection. I could feel how uneasy the fictional character felt – except what I was viewing echoed in my own reality.
That moment briefly brought me back to a party I was at while in college; I was around 21 years old at the time and was one of three black men at the party. I didn’t necessarily care about this unbalanced ratio, I was just trying to have a good time. I was introduced to and later had a conversation with two white girls. One of them (from what I remember, she had strawberry blonde-reddish hair) made a comment about how great my skin was and she touched and rubbed her hand on my face, not in a sexual manner, but in a manner where she was in awe, envious, creepily gleeful, marveling at my skin color as if I was a mannequin for her display. “Oh my God, look at his skin, it’s so smooth!” I froze. I did nothing. The awkwardness, the “what the hellfullness” of it all was almost overwhelming.
Later that night at the same party, someone mentioned that I sounded white and I took it as an insult. The individual thought I shouldn’t have been upset, that it was an honor for a black person to be called white because of their speaking proper English. The unfortunate, unknowing self-entitlement, the subliminal arrogance made me sick inside. The person probably was oblivious of how obnoxious he sounded. I wonder how many people, and all kinds of people at that, even know how obnoxious they sound when interacting with other races, especially when it comes to the dynamic of black and white in the United States of America.
That night passed and I moved on (until Get Out encouraged me to scour my racially fueled memories). While watching that scene in the movie, I realized Get Out reaches incredible depths of social commentary that must be discussed.
Get Out is more than a movie, it’s required viewing in the same way certain books are required reading in a high school or college course. But, as a dear friend from college said to me within hours of seeing Get Out, it should be optional viewing for those who want to peel back the racially and socially fueled layers that the movie provides. The topic of race in America is only an uneasy topic if we want it to be, hopefully those days are numbered as more movies like Get Out raise questions and cause conversations such as Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, To Kill A Mockingbird, and other golden classics before it.
Jordan Peele deserves an Academy Award nomination for his work. This brilliant movie is something that I think many have wanted to see; the uneasiness, the forced acceptance, the awkward moments, the subtle racism, the true wholesomeness of being an open diverse person and being punished for it; it’s all in this movie, and there’s a hell of a lot more stories, both fictionalized and non-fictional, to be told. Above all else, it was fun, witty, and downright trippy and terrifying. Jordan Peele created what will be known as a classic film that restructures its genre. You don’t have to be black to enjoy Get Out, but if you are, it speaks directly to you, and no that doesn’t mean it’s “anti-white.”
Get Out "gets it," Jordan Peele "got it," and he’s not afraid to take the uneasiness of it all and terrify and humor us, all while holding us at the edge of our seat.