Racism in ‘Get Out’





Racism in ‘Get Out’

‘Get Out’ is a critically acclaimed 2017 film directed by Jordan Peele. It is a horror film centered on racial relations and issues in the United States. The film marked Peele’s directorial debut and earned multiple nominations and awards such as Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture at the 90th Academy Awards. Peele explained that one of the main motivations for the film was to expose race issues that most people still sweep under the rug. A perfect example of this is the fact that Obama had been president, which meant that racism was effectively dead. Peele also took aim at white liberals who think that they cannot be racist, minimizing the problem without recognizing their role in it. The film highlights many fears such as racial discrimination that minority groups in America go through, and the film employs various devices such as symbolism and metaphors to address race relations in the country.

Racial profiling is one fear that minorities face every day, shown in the interaction between Chris and the police officer. While on their way to meet Rose’s parents, Chris and Rose hit a deer and they call the police. When the police arrive on the scene, the officer asks Chris for his license even though Rose was the one driving (MovieClips Trailers 0: 45). Interactions between African-American males and the police have been a major part of racial profiling in the country. There have been multiple shootings and fatalities resulting from a simple interaction that quickly escalated, or even from unprovoked assault. Many black men fear approaching or being approached by the police out of fear that they might end up dead for no reason at all. There is some bias within the police force, and ‘Get Out’ highlights this issue in the scene between Chris and the officer. Rose protests, explaining that there is no need to ask Chris for his ID, but unfortunately Chris recognizes that this is what he expects from a police officer.

Another fear that minorities experience is the belittling of their everyday struggles, quite evident in the film. The idea of a post-racial America is one that was widely taunted especially after the US elected its first black president. However, many individuals still experience racial discrimination in their lives, and dismissing these struggles just because the president is a black man is unfortunate. During the party at the Armitage estate, Chris experiences a lot of racial micro-aggressions as everyone tries to prove that they are not racist. A perfect example of this is when Rose’s father said he would vote for Obama a third time. Tiger Woods is also mentioned as a way to show that black men hold powerful positions, and the white liberals accept and praise them. This can be explained as liberal racism, where people try to deflect from real issues by pointing out the positives and distancing themselves from the negatives.

Eyes and cameras are important symbols in exploring racism in the film ‘Get Out.’ The eyes are the organs with which we perceive the outside world and the happenings around us. Chris’ eyes are a major part of his craft as a photographer. When he and Rose go to visit her parents, he takes his camera with him. When he tries to take a photo of Logan who looks familiar to him, he sets off an unexpected reaction. Logan tells him to ‘get out’, a phrase Chris will later come to understand. Cameras and videos have become a crucial part of exposing racial discrimination today, which makes the camera significant in the film. Jim Hudson, a blind art dealer, wants to take over Chris’ body and see through his artistic eyes, which essentially translates to robbing him of Chris of his most important organs. Taking away Chris’ eyes takes away his vision and opportunities, something that minority groups have experienced.

Peele uses metaphors in ‘Get Out’ to highlight how inaction leads to grave consequences with regard to racial issues. Chris lost his mother at a young age and was not there when she passed away. Under hypnosis, Chris admits that he did nothing as his mother suffered. In an interview with the New York Times, Peele explained that the act of watching TV represents inactivity and complacency during critical moments (Zinoman 1). Everyone is aware that there is a serious race issue in the country, but most people would rather sit back and do nothing. Some of the grave consequences include death, exclusion and discrimination of minority groups. The fear of speaking up is because people want to downplay racism and avoid rustling feathers, an approach which will only exacerbate the problem.

In summary, the horror film ‘Get Out’ does an exceptional job of tackling a heavy subject in society today; racism. Peele brings a new perspective of what a horror film looks like and addresses serious topics in the process. There are many symbols and metaphors in the satirical film that enhance the theme of the movie. The movie is particularly relevant today as the country continues to grapple with race issues and a growing awareness of racism. The idea of liberal racism also comes out quite clearly, showing that people can be racist without intending to be, or cause further problems by minimizing the issue. Electing a black president should not be the end of it, every minority individual must be treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve just like any other person.

Works Cited

MovieClips Trailers. “Get Out Official Trailer 1 (2017)” YouTube. 5 October 2017. www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzfpyUB60YYZinoman, Jason. “Jordan Peele on a Truly Terrifying Monster: Racism” The New York Times. 16 February 2017. www.nytimes.com/2017/02/16/movies/jordan-peele-interview-get-out.html