This fall, award-winning science fiction writer and UCLA professor Tananarive Due will teach a “Get Out”–inspired course called “Sunken Place: Racism, Survival, and Black Horror Aesthetic,” i09 reports. Jordan Peele‘s directorial debut, which couches America’s history of racist scientific experimentation in a romantic horror plot, continues to make waves months after it became a blockbuster hit. “Get Out” inspired Due to consider the history of Black horror in fiction and film.
In an interview with i09’s Evan Narcisse, Due calls herself a “horror head” who considers horror a subgenre of speculative fiction, where she reigns supreme. Winner of The American Book Award, the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature, and the Carl Brandon Kindred Award, Due has published over ten novels since 1995. She told i09 that “Get Out” has given film executives a way to understand her own horror adaptations for the screen.
Prior to “Get Out,” Due noted, the most popular contemporary Black horror film was “Beloved,” the movie adaptation of Toni Morrison‘s novel that didn’t perform as well in the box office as it did in the bookstore. “Get Out” may have helped Due move forward in her screenwriting projects, but it also prompted her to look back at the genre’s Black history. Due said that for African Americans, the horror genre is “a great way to address this awful, festering wound in the American psyche, the slavery and genocide that was present during our nation’s birth.”
The professor mentioned film examples such as “Blacula,” “Def by Temptation,” and “Tales From the Hood.” She also plans to teach the short fiction of W.E.B. DuBois, whose story “The Comet” imagines a Black man and White woman as the sole survivors of apocalypse in the “era of lynching.” Due said, “These are two very different artists in two very different times, but DuBois’ story is a great companion, in a way, to what Jordan Peele was doing with the Black man and White woman in his movie.”
The year is not yet done and Jordan Peele’s horror masterpiece “Get Out” has already been declared the most profitable movie of the year. The movie, which is the highest-grossing original screenplay ever, had a 630 percent return on investment, according to TheWrap.
Peele was given a $4.5 million budget by Blumhouse Productions to work with on “Get Out,” grossing $252 million worldwide. M. Night Shyamalan‘s “Split,” also produced by Blumhouse, had a 610 percent return on investments on a global haul of $277 million. It is the second-highest most profitable film of the year.
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:
During this year’s CinemaCon Big Screen Achievement Awards, Jordan Peele will be presented with the CinemaCon Director of the Year Award for his 2017 blockbuster “Get Out.”
CinemaCon Managing Director, Mitch Neuhauser, announced the award on Monday saying, “With the phenomenon known as ‘Get Out,” Jordan Peele has instantaneously become a force to reckon with as a gifted and enormously talented director and filmmaker. He has audiences and critics around the globe enamored and spellbound, dare I say hypnotized, with his wildly inventive directorial debut, and we are ecstatic to be honoring him as this year’s ‘Director of the Year.’”
Peele will receive the award on March 30 at the ceremony at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, hosted by the Coca-Cola Company. The official convention of The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) will be held on March 27-30, 2017, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
Peele’s thriller has received widespread acclaim and excellent reviews since its debut, including a 99 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
“Get Out,” a trenchant horror film about race relations, rode critical raves to a smashing box office debut. The low-budget film was the weekend’s top-grossing domestic release, earning $30.5 million, and propelling its director and writer Jordan Peele atop Hollywood’s A-list.
The film, which centers on a black man who discovers that his girlfriend’s liberal, lily-white hometown is guarding a sinister secret, marks a departure for Peele, best-known for his work on the Comedy Central series “Key & Peele.” It proves he can handle scares, as well as laughs, supplying sly social commentary in both genres.
“Get Out” also extends Blumhouse Productions’ hot hand. The film company scored earlier this year with “Split,” a thriller about a man with a personality disorder that racked up $130.8 million stateside on a $9 million budget. Universal distributed, marketed, and partnered on both movies.“It’s entertaining, it’s thought-provoking, and it’s subversive,” said Nick Carpou, Universal’s domestic distribution chief. “I have seen [‘Get Out’] play with audiences. They enjoy themselves and they’re telling their friends.”
It wasn’t just word-of-mouth that accounted for the robust opening. “Get Out” benefited from being embraced by reviewers, earning a rare 100% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the likes of the Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern hailing its “explosive brilliance” and the New York Times’ Manohla Dargis praising it as “exhilaratingly smart.” The last horror film to receive that type of unanimous praise was Roman Polanski’s “Repulsion” in 1965.
Jordan Peele has just signed a first-look deal with Sonar Entertainment for his production company, Monkeypaw Productions. The agreement encompasses all content for television, including digital. The news comes just ahead of the premiere of Peele’s feature directorial debut with horror film “Get Out,” which is already earning rave reviews.
Peele and Keegan-Michael Key created and performed in the Emmy-winning sketch series “Key & Peele,” which concluded a five-season run on Comedy Central in 2015. “Jordan Peele is one of the brightest stars in our business — a true hyphenate — actor, writer, producer and director. We are excited to partner with him and Monkeypaw,” said Sonar CEO Thomas Lesinski.
“I am thrilled to partner with the incredible folks at Sonar Entertainment as they are committed to truly elevated quality content. Especially now as I move into this next chapter in television, my aim is to help develop untapped voices as well as my own dream shows, and continue to push the boundaries of television,” Peele said.
Monkeypaw Productions was founded by Peele in 2012. In TV, Monkeypaw produced “Key & Peele” and is also behind Tracy Morgan’s TBS comedy series, which is set for production later this year.
If you’ve ever seen or read an August Wilson play, you know that writing is how the late playwright processed the world around him – a magnificently black world filled with funk and nuance in which language plays a central role. For Wilson, though, learning how to work with that language as a writer didn’t happen overnight. “For the longest time I couldn’t make my characters talk,” Wilson told me several years ago before his death in 2005. “I thought in order to incorporate the black vernacular into literature, the language had to be changed or altered in some way to sound more clear … until I realized that it’s no less romantic and meaningful to say, ‘It’s cold outside.’” As a play, Wilson’s Fences, which tells the story of a working-class black man – who was denied a baseball career in the major leagues – trying to raise his family in mid-century Pittsburgh, gives us that blunt romance and powerful meaning. As a movie, it gives us Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. Enough said.
Fences is on nationwide release now
I don’t go in for horror films at all – not even horror film parodies – but I also can’t think of a brighter, more innovative voice in film right now than Jordan Peele, one half of the masterful sketch comedy series Key and Peele, which he co-created with Keegan-Michael Key. And while the potentially great Keanu, co-written by Peele and Alex Rubin, was a disappointing failure, Get Out, which Peele both wrote and directed, looks legitimately genius. The premise is a pretty straightforward Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner setup – rich white girlfriend brings her smart, learned black boyfriend upstate for a weekend to meet the parents – what could go wrong? It’ll be awkward, parents will remark more than once on how articulate the black boyfriend is, lecture them both on how hard it will be to maintain an interracial relationship in this day and age, and then finally concede that love is all that matters. Or will it?
Get Out will be in theaters February 24
In America, when it comes to the mainstream celebration of black historical figures, we primarily see the spotlight shined on our athletes, entertainers and a handful of activists who generally get depoliticized posthumously. Seldom do we hear about engineers, innovators and mathematicians, much less our black women in those positions. It’s thrilling and really quite long overdue for a film like Hidden Figures, which tells the story of “colored computers” Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, who worked at NASA in the early 1960s and played a vital role in getting John Glenn and the Friendship 7 into space. As Katherine Johnson, Taraji P. Henson is on career-best form – pushing her glasses up on her nose, hustling to the coloreds bathroom carrying a stack of data research, doing mathematical equations on a chalkboard – creating a truly revelatory performance. Octavia Spencer as Dorothy and Janelle Monáe as Mary are icing on the cake. An added bonus comes in the form of Pharrell Williams, who is a producer on the film and wrote original songs for the soundtrack that give the movie a beautiful sense of joy.
Hidden Figures is in nationwide release now
I Am Not Your Negro
The thing about James Baldwin, beyond his utter brilliance and undeniable prescience as a writer and public intellectual, is that he was like the blackest man who ever lived. And he wore it like a badge of honor. In the newly Oscar-nominated documentary I Am Not Your Negro, Haitian-born film-maker Raoul Peck mines Baldwin’s unpublished writing about the assassinations of Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X to create an intellectual and visual mosaic that somehow captures Baldwin’s own very personal and stubborn sense of blackness. It hits hard, and the film will make you long for the leadership and integrity of Evers, King and Malcolm in these increasingly divisive times. But it will also, if only temporarily, let you sit in the glory that is James Baldwin’s company.
Tracy Morgan’s plan to star in an FX comedy series is back on track now that writer-actor Jordan Peele and John Carcieri have signed on to write a pilot for the former “30 Rock” star.
Morgan’s life was up-ended 18 months ago by a car crash that came two months after he signed a straight-to-series pact with FX Networks.
The new project will see Morgan playing a career criminal who struggles to reintegrate into society after serving a 15-year prison sentence.
Peele and Carcieri will write the pilot and executive produce with Eric Tannenbaum and Joel Zadak, an alum of Peele’s Comedy Central sketch series “Key and Peele.”
“What an unbeatable combination – Tracy Morgan and Jordan Peele – two exceptional comics joining forces with a great team of writers and producers to create and produce this pilot for FX Networks,” said Nick Grad, president of original programming for FX Networks and FX Prods. “We’ve been committed to Tracy from the start and are thrilled that Jordan, John, Eric and Joel are joining him in developing this new project.”
Morgan’s deal with the cable network in 2014 called for him to work with the “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” gang — Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton, and Rob McElhenney — on an unspecified concept for a comedy to air on FXX. It’s unclear whether the new pilot will be bound for FXX or the mothership FX.
Morgan suffered brain injuries and broken bones after his SUV was rear-ended on the New Jersey turnpike in June 2014. The crash killed another passenger in the car, Morgan’s longtime friend and fellow comedian James McNair.
The severity of his injuries forced the former “30 Rock” star to endure a long recuperation period. He began a slow return to the public eye last summer with emotional appearances on the Primetime Emmy Awards telecast and a hosting gig on “Saturday Night Live,” his alma mater.
Morgan at present is headlining a national comedy tour dubbed “Picking Up the Pieces” that is set to run through May. He also just wrapped work on the Weinstein Co.’s biopic “Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said?,” in which he plays comedian Redd Foxx opposite Mike Epps in the title role.
Peele is coming off a five-season run on the much-praised sketch comedy “Key and Peele.” He was in the ensemble of the 2014 edition of FX’s “Fargo,” and he’s recently had recurring roles on CBS’ “Life in Pieces,” and Netflix’s “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp,” among other projects.
Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele have set up a followup TV series project to their hit Comedy Central sketch show Key & Peele — a single-camera undercover cop comedy starring top Vine personality Andrew Bachelor aka King Bach. Key and Peele are executive producing the project which, in a competitive situation, has landed at Fox.
Written by Key & Peele writer-producer Alex Rubens, the untitled comedy is loosely based on a King Bach Vine and stars Bachelor as an undercover cop who grew up on the streets and goes back to his old neighborhood to take down the bad guys who bullied him when they were kids. Rubens, Key and Peele executive produce.
As his exuberant alter ego King Bach, Bachelor has become Vine’s biggest star, boasting 14 million followers and 5.1 billion loops. The Groundlings alum has parlayed his Vine success into a rising acting career with recurring roles on The Mindy Project, House Of Lies and Black Jesus. He also appeared on Key & Peele.
This is Key and Peele’s first TV series project since they recently ended their successful Comedy Central sketch comedy series Key & Peele, which the duo created, executive produced and starred in. The series, which ran for 5 seasons, has garnered 9 Emmy nominations, including best sketch variety comedy series and best supporting actor in a comedy series, Key, this year. Peele, Key and Rubens have shared two Emmy nominations in the writing for variety series category.
Key, Peele and Rubens recently worked together on the upcoming New Line feature Keanu, which Key and Peele produce and star in and Peele and Rubens wrote. Key and Peele also have been developing a new installment of thePolice Academy franchise at New Line, a feature based on their popular Substitute Teacher skits at Paramount with Rubens co-writing, and a comedy with Judd Apatow at Universal. Individually, Peele is set to write and direct Blumhouse’s horror film Get Out, while Key stars in Mike Birbiglia’s latest movie Don’t Think Twice and is part of the voice cast of The Angry Birds Movie.
The 2015 Primetime Emmy Awards nominations were announced today, and it’s clear that diverse casting in television is finally impacting more than ratings. Eighteen African-American actors and actresses were acknowledged by the Television Academy for their work on the small screen this past season, including best actress in a drama nominees Taraji P. Henson (“Empire”) and Viola Davis (“How To Get Away With Murder”), Queen Latifah for the HBO movie “Bessie”, Angela Bassett for limited series “American Horror Story” and Cicely Tyson for her guest turn on “How To Get Away With Murder.”
Other acting nominees include David Oyelowo for the limited series “Nightingale”, Anthony Anderson and Don Cheadle for their respective comedy leads in “Black-ish” and “House of Lies”, Uzo Aduba for “Orange Is The New Black”, Khandi Alexander for her guest role on “Scandal”, Andre Braugher for his supporting role in the comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”, Keegan-Michael Key for his comedy sketch show “Key & Peele” Niecy Nash for her supporting role in “Getting On”, Tituss Burgess for his supporting comedic role in “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” , Michael Kenneth Williams for his supporting dramatic role in “Bessie”, Regina King for “American Crime”, Mo’Nique for her portrayal of Ma Rainey in “Bessie”, Tituss Burgess and Reg E. Cathey for his guest role on “House Of Cards.”
Additionally, Academy Award-winning writer John Ridley (“12 Years A Slave”) scored big with 10 nominations for his critically-acclaimed ABC series “American Crime”, including Best Limited Series and Writing for a Limited Series. Additionally, writer/director Dee Rees (“Pariah”) is nominated for writing as well as directing for “Bessie.”
More writing nods went to Key and Jordan Peele for “Key & Peele” and the “Key & Peele Super Bowl Special”. Key & Peele were also acknowledged in the Short-Form Live Action category for “Key & Peele Presents Van And Mike: The Ascension”. Beyoncé continues to dominate all media with a nod in the Special Class Program category for “Beyoncé and Jay Z On The Run.”
Astrophysicist-turned-television personality and host Neil deGrasse Tyson was rewarded for his ventures into the entertainment space with two nominations: one as narrator for “Hubble’s Cosmic Journey” and the other for his nascent talk show “Star Talk with Neil DeGrasse Tyson.”
The 2015 Primetime Emmy Awards will be held on September 20, hosted by Andy Samberg and broadcast live on Fox from the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles.
To see a full list of all the nominees, click here.