REVIEW: Get Out

8 05 2017

“I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this […] through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away,” then-President Barack Obama stated upon the occasion of George Zimmerman’s acquittal for the murder of Trayvon Martin. “There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me. There are very few African-American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me.”

The terror that white people feel when a black man enters a space they historically dominate has gotten a surge of attention in recent years. (Some might say it’s the underlying narrative of the 2016 presidential election.) This tension appears most in the police shootings of unarmed black men, though it also appears in dialogues surrounding everything from cultural appropriation to #OscarsSoWhite. The issues, of course, are nothing new. The means for traditionally underrepresented voices to make their opinions heard, however, are.

With his feature debut “Get Out,” writer/director Jordan Peele finds yet another method of expression: the thriller genre. From its ominous opening scene in which a black man ambles uneasily through a Stepfordian suburb, the film engrosses us in the acute and hyperaware perspective of a minority navigating a predominantly white culture. That also requires shining a light on the dark flip side of the equation that helps construct blackness – white myopia or blindness.

As Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) prepares to meet the parents of his white girlfriend Rose (a perfectly cast Allison Williams), we become painfully aware of how the vast gulf of racial privilege affects their read on certain situations. She cannot understand why Chris simply gives his license to an officer calmly by the side of the road when it’s clear he did nothing wrong. She has a post-racial mindset that makes her think it’s unnecessary to specify Chris’ race before arriving. Race is something Rose can forget about. It’s not that easy for him.

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