The Harbinger Online

Racial Themes Behind “Get Out”


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While the genre of “Get Out” is hard to discern, the message of the movie is not. The racial ideas are evident, portrayed emphatically to the audience from the first scene of the movie.

According to director Jordan Peele, he wanted to directly challenge the experience of being an African-American male in America. He calls his motive behind the making of the film to “expose the lie of post-racial America.”

The movie opens with a young black man who has lost his way in a white suburban neighborhood, tailed by a threatening figure who appears out of seemingly nowhere. As thoughts of Trayvon Martin creep into my head, a young woman sitting a couple rows ahead of me on my right jumps out of her seat, popcorn spilling over the people in front of her, yelling, “Don’t shoot Trayvon!” According to Peele, that’s exactly the type of reaction he wanted to create from the audience, black and white members alike.

As the movie continues, Chris — played by Daniel Kaluuya — is getting driven by his girlfriend, played by Allison Williams, to meet her family. The two hit a deer, and the police are called. The police officer, instead of investigating the crash, immediately asks Chris for his driver’s licence. The scene is short and becomes irrelevant in the plot of the movie, but it is the most blatant showing of racism in the film.

I, along with black and white audience members alike, cringed seeing this portrayal of passive aggressive racism. But seeing it in a movie is not what made me clench my jaw; it was rather the realization that it is really happening all over the country. And although every instance doesn’t involve a police shooting, that specific scene made me want to find a way to change racial profiling.

“Get Out” offers a definitive way to start this discussion and change views on race. While the problems it addresses are complex, the way in which it is presented is not. I, along with audience members, both black and white, then are able to understand and contemplate its message.

“I wanted to make something that has a perspective that you don’t often see, but I also wanted it to be an inclusive movie,” Peele told the New York Times. “You can ask a white person to see the world through the eyes of a black person for an hour and a half.”

I, as a white male, was skeptical of how much I could have the experiences of the African-American main character before seeing the movie. But after seeing the movie I completely felt that I had been put into his shoes during those 90 minutes. I had thought about racial conflicts in normal society, yet I had never seen it in person or portrayed so realistically.

Now, in the Donald Trump era, where racism has grown to be somewhat normalized, it has become more important to show racial equality. While some think that Americans are evolving from a “post-racial” society this movie proves that this idea is not true. The ignorance and prejudice towards another race is portrayed in the movie with frightening realism. Characters continually berate Chris with demeaning and condescending conversations. I had a vague sense of what racial attacks included but the only conflicts I had seen were those of horrendous violence. “Get Out” showed me a much less threatening, but equally disturbing, example of racism.

Racism is a topic that is rarely discussed openly this school, but it needs to be. After the election of Barack Obama, racial discussions became less widespread. Peele’s social critique in “Get Out” shows this to be false. Race is continually changing, evolving into different forms of expression and we, as members of a multi-cultural society, should try to change as well.

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