Months into an interracial relationship, Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya), a young black man, agrees to visit his white girlfriend’s secluded family. With his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) at his side, he does his best to smile through the painfully expected racial microaggressions of meeting the Armitage family and dealing with their passive-aggressive racism. During this weekend, he has incredibly strange interactions with the few black people he meets. While the he might have been prepared for the expected polite forms of racism, there’s another edge of horror that he has never imagined.
Chris Washington, an everyman black guy, was made incredibly more relatable to me, due to the fact that he was written in as a photographer who shoots with the same exact brand of camera I shoot with. He even goes Gordon Parking, just like me. For me, the story of this movie was piercing because in making him a photographer with a “talented eye” it was like they literally threw a nice guy version of myself as a character in the movie. This made the movie particularly horrifying.
Forming the “Racial Horror” Genre
Get Out is a movie directed and written by Jordan Peele, one half of the Key and Peele sketch comedy duo. Being that the Key and Peele show (and the movie Keanu) was the only reference material to build expectations off of, I never expected this movie to be this good. The sketch comedy performed on Key and Peele were always hit or miss; the slave auction sketch damn near makes you think they are detached from reality, while Manly Tears, Kanye the Giant or Video Game Sensors would leave you in stitches.
One thing Key and Peele were really good at was creating awkward situation sketches. Upon knowing that, this movie was expected to play out like one of their awkward situation sketches, where there’s a big comedic payoff in the end. That didn’t happen. This is a real horror movie. Sci-Fi horror, perhaps. But it’s a real horror movie.
Many white viewers of this movie will miss this point, but most of the horror in the film are the various fears black people have living in a passive-aggressive white supremacist society. Meeting your white significant other’s family, who are located in a rural, secluded area, is a frightening idea to a black person. White America has a long record of murdering black people who found love or lust on their side of town. This fear goes double for black males, being that white society perceives black men as a greater form of existential threat.
The Negro-Breaker character
The racial horror has a myriad of layers. Most viewers will clearly see the problem with the honey-pot, exploitative liberal white female, but most might miss Jeremy Armitage’s character however, who represents how sociopathic or downright psychotic the conservative white person can be.
Jeremy Armitage’s character was played masterfully by Caleb Landry Jones, who most might remember as Banshee off of the X-Men First Class movie.
Jeremy’s character was fascinating to me. The first thing Jeremy does when meeting our protagonist, Chris Washington, was size him up, place a sense of passive-aggressive resentment on the core of Chris’ body (assuming that all black men are of superhuman strength and athleticism), and sought to challenge him, choke him out, or otherwise subdue him. You know, break him.
You see, there’s a thing about living in this white supremacist nation called America that many black people know, especially black men, that largely goes unaccounted for. White America has a fierce history wishing to break a black person who is free in mind, body and soul. Before tone policing, America held black people in the same regard as base animals, thus, negro-breaking was a thing. Negro-breaking (or nigger breaking) was the racist practice of violently beating, subduing, a black person into submission, in order to domesticate them. Usually this was a specifically horrific slave owner, and other slave owners would send their slaves to this person as a form a punishment. Many negro-breakers tortured blacks people for fun. Edwin Epps, the slave owner in 12 Years a Slave, is a well known negro-breaker who was more horrible in reality than he was portrayed in the movie.
This negro-breaking white tradition is the reason why white America enjoys or allows, police corruption, police excessive violence, and murderous cops with a grotesque lack of accountability within the black community. Jeremy, seeing nothing but a challenge when meeting Chris, is a representation of the negro-breaker white supremacist type.
Another fascinating aspect of Jeremy’s character, was the fact that he was the most transparent racist in the movie. Jeremy Armitage was terrifyingly psychotic and transparent in his racism to the point that the Armitage family frequently felt that he was going to blow their cover. While Rose and the mother and father held to the flaw of the white liberal, Jeremy, representing the American white conservative, truly gave no fucks.
Outside of Jeremy Armitage, the rest of the characters of the Armitage family were your average white liberals, either by neglect of design, fully capable of drowning you in their sweet, polite racism.
Missy Armitage (Catherine Keener), the matriarch of the family, equipped with a literal silver spoon, was charged with the task to control the subconscious of the black person, and then push the black conscious into oblivion to the point where the black identity has no control over its fate.
In short, the mother represents the white woman’s role in suppressing black identity and black consciousness, on top of the oppression of black people as a whole historically. Momma Armitage is older and more practiced than Rose, so instead of using sex to lure black men she has a greater role in pacifying the black conscious to a point of white exploitation with hypnosis. The way she works, she first does check to see if one can be hypnotized or not. I’d imagine those who she could not hypnotize, Jeremy was probably tasked to kill them and dispose the body.
The White Chick within White Supremacy
Missy already knew of Chris’ traumatic experience which helped her define his sunken place, so it’s implied that Rose goes after black men with backgrounds with immense adversity or traumatic experience. Keep in mind that one angle they tried was “momma’s hypnosis will help cure your cigarette addiction”, so it can be assessed that Rose also went after black men with addictions. This could be anything, i.e., tobacco, alcohol, weed, sex, porn. In short, Rose went after highly vulnerable black men.
It is a common thing in white liberals to act like they are doing something for the black person. Rose, more than complicit with the program, serves as the primary gaslighting individual in the story. Each time Chris wondered or figured something was going on, she would talk him out of his suspicions. That’s the true purpose of the liberal white supremacist — to pacify the black conscious. She most certainly served her purpose.
It isn’t just the family that is racist; it’s the community. I would speak on the fact that there was an Asian man present to exploit black bodies, but an writer/speaker activist friend, Ranier Maningding, wrote in great detail on the matter. Check him out.
One thing I will point out is the white man who decides to buy Chris’ black body was also fascinating. Blind art collector Jim Hudson (Stephen Root) was technically the nicest, seemingly regular white guy Chris spoke to at the gathering. Being that he also was a man who appreciates art, there was a commonality between them, seemingly.
The fact that later on Jim’s character said that he didn’t care about race — while being an active participant and beneficiary in a categorically horrific racist system — is the movie’s representation of white people’s colorblindness logic.
Racial Horror = Revealing Institutional Racism on Film
There are many more things to find in this movie when it comes to being a metaphor for systemic racism in society:
- The Asian man ready to exploit black life, was the only one with yellow bingo markers on his bingo board. While you participate in white supremacy, you still ain’t white and they’ll let you know it.
- The camera flash literally waking up black conscious is a metaphor for the role cameras have played in recent times revealing systemic injustice dealt to black people.
- The silver spoon used in pacifying black conscious represents how money plays a role in silencing black people (i.e., black celebrities’ silence).
- The bingo game functioned like a slave auction.
- The sunken place represents how powerless black people are in their exploitation in a white supremacist nation.
- Chris gets a glimpse of in-your-face proof of Rose’s role, but acts like he didn’t see what he saw. This represents how even black people in a racist situation will rationalize, make excuses for, or pretend racism don’t exist.
- Chris has to be willing to kill his oppressors in order to survive.
I’m excited to hear that Jordan Peele made significant monetary returns on this movie. Being that it is said that Peele plans on making more movies like Get Out, we might be witness to a new genre of film: Racial Horror.
Get Out is a movie that while having a sci-fi horror aspect to it, is grounded on the common everyday horrors that black people know of. This aspect of life and death, is by far missing in American film. I sincerely hope Peele continues to write and direct these racial horror films, with black protagonists navigating through systemic racism. The cinematography is perfectly done. The lighting and camera angles were fitting for the movie. The musical score and music selection was more than on point.
If you saw the Key and Peele movie Keanu, do NOT expect this movie to be as cheesy as Keanu was. This is a must see, genuine horror flick.
Another point I want to congratulate Jordan Peele on, is the fact that this movie was 100% unique. There’s no other movie like this one, and if there was it will be made after this and it will be clearly be building the racial horror genre (which needs to be built). This movie came out where there’s two issues plaguing the movie industry:  infinite reboots and remakes, and  persistent whitewashing. Being a 100% original racial horror flick, it evades both the remake problem and the whitewashing problem.
Well done, Mr. Peele, well done.
Go see this movie.