Tag: interracial relationships

REVIEW: Jordan Peele Provokes Thought in His Comedy-Horror Masterpiece “Get Out”

“Get Out” written and directed by Jordan Peele (photo courtesy Universal)
by Flynn Richardson

Jordan Peele is the quiet superhero I’ve been waiting for. I say quiet because his movie “Get Out” sneaked up on me. Not that there wasn’t noise surrounding this film… there was… everyone was talking about it. It had a perfect positive review score on Rotten Tomatoes until one guy’s negative take ended the streak. What can I say… everyone’s a critic – including me.

To summarize, “Get Out” is about a young, black photographer named Chris who is dating a white girl named Rose, and the duo depart for the weekend to visit Rose’s family (the Armitages) at their sprawling, suburban estate. Chris has initial concerns about the trip because Rose never mentioned to her family that she was dating a black man; however, Rose assures Chris that her family is not racist, and he therefore should not have anything to worry about.

Upon arrival the family seems normal enough; they are progressive, nice, and even border on entertaining. But as the plot furthers and their racism becomes increasingly revealed, the movie transforms from a fish-out-of- water “meet the parents” story into a spine-chilling thriller involving blood, murder, and hypnotic enslavement.

Among the film’s numerous allusions to racism – the policeman’s unwarranted request for Chris’s ID; the family’s employment of only black help; Rose’s brother’s assessment of Chris’s inherent athletic abilities – one quotation that particularly piqued my interest was the ending line of the official trailer: “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste.”

This slogan, coined in 1972 by Arthur Fletcher, head of the United Negro College Fund, was important for two reasons: 1) it was created to promote the funding of scholarships for underprivileged black youth who would otherwise be unable to afford college and 2) it acknowledged that the potential of a mind does not hinge upon the race of its host, and that every mind should thereby be entitled to further cultivation.

What I find most interesting about Peele’s inclusion of this slogan (and its periodic repetition throughout the film and trailer) is that it perfectly echoes the commentary Peele makes about racism through this movie. Minds of black people are literally wasted as they are hypnotically enveloped within “The Sunken Place” – a darkness in which the mind is deprived of control over the body, and this imposed deprivation is largely representative of the systemic racism that plagues our society.

Although the capability of a mind is not dictated by race, the system has nonetheless created the illusion of white superiority by marginalizing black people and casting them into a void of shadows. And, while an occasional glimmer of reality (in this case, provided by the flash from Chris’s camera) may motivate black people to sometimes fight against it, the system ultimately triumphs in restoring its prejudiced order.

Speaking from my perspective – a bi-racial, brown-skinned teenager living in Los Angeles – I have been fortunate enough to not have personally experienced the same degree of marginalization as other members of the black community, or even within my own family. But this movie nonetheless still displays several facets of my experience. I attend a school of predominantly white students, and I can attribute many of my own feelings of being “other” to a feeling of being overshadowed by my white peers. I say many, and not all, because the alternative is a feeling of scrutinization that stems from being the only black kid in the room. Peele illustrates this aspect extremely well through the Armitages’ fixation on Chris. What I think therefore is so special about this film is that it weaves together these (and so many other) different dimensions of discrimination, and pretty much anyone of color can find some identification with Chris’s experience.

For those who still have not seen this movie, the purchase of that ticket would undoubtedly be money well-spent. If thought-provoking and intelligently constructed films intrigue you, watch “Get Out.” If films that tackle racism move you, watch “Get Out.” Even if you are merely into the horror genre, watch “Get Out.” From its amazing acting – Chris (Daniel Kaluyaa), Rose (Allison Williams), the brilliantly hilarious TSA agent Rod (Lil Rel Howery), etc. – to its perfect pacing, “Get Out” merits its commercial and critical success for its unique, alluring, and thoughtful portrayal of the underlying horrors that constitute being black in America.

Note: If my antistrophe in the last paragraph was not enough to persuade you (did I mention I’m a college-bound high school senior? Words like “antistrophe” live in my brain daily, so I can’t pass up a chance to use one in context), hopefully the trailer linked below will be:

MLK Day 2014: Humanizing a King to Celebrate Him

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is welcomed with a kiss by his wife Coretta
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is welcomed with a kiss by his wife Coretta after leaving court in Montgomery, Ala., March 22, 1956. King was found guilty of conspiracy to boycott city buses in a campaign to desegregate the bus system, but a judge suspended his $500 fine pending appeal. (AP Photo/Gene Herrick)

On March 22, 1956, the 27-year-old Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was having a horrible day. He’d just been convicted for his role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott and sentenced to pay $1,000 or spend 386 days in jail. After the ruling and motion to appeal, he walked out of the courthouse a temporarily free man, but his spirit was shaken.

All of a sudden, his wife Coretta rushed at him, threw her arms around him, and kissed him in front of about 300 people who’d gathered outside. The biggest smile ever captured on King swept across his face, and his eyes lifted to the heavens with the giddiness of a young man in love.

In the photo that caught this moment, we see a side of him that sometimes gets lost in our remembrances. For all the important things that Dr. King would go on to do in his life, that day he was just a regular young man whose rough day was made better by a little sugar from the one he loved.

Remembering King as a man, not just a legend

Today, the nation pauses for a moment to pay homage to the legacy of Dr. King. During his less than fifteen years in the national spotlight, he became the voice and embodiment of the Civil Rights Movement in America. Our perception of him is deeply influenced by the iconic pictures and films of King delivering powerful speeches, leading marches in the Deep South, and with his hand outstretched towards the sea of people at the 1963 March on Washington.

These many images and the society-shifting changes that his efforts helped bring about have elevated him to a heroic status with a larger-than-life character. This deification pushed him into a place in our memories that sometimes feels beyond our reach of comprehension as fellow mortals. Continue reading “MLK Day 2014: Humanizing a King to Celebrate Him”