Film Club / a Personification of the Yell at the Screen

Get OutGet Out
Directed by Jordan Peele

 

 

 

 

 


JOEL
Barbican Comic Forum
00000000 / Kraken
Brain Teeth

The title is an Eddie Murphy reference right?

So: I wonder what the Armitage family would think of Get Out? Them all at home. Mum, Dad, Rose and Jeremy all sitting around together watching it on the TV. (Rose sat on the floor drinking milk and eating Froot Loops. Jeremy absent-mindedly twirling with his lacrosse stick. Dad suggesting that maybe after this they should watch The West Wing. Mum drinking tea).

I could be wrong – but I’m guessing they’d like it?

In much the same way that Dad was all “If I could, I would have voted for Obama for a third term” I’m guessing they’d be saying the same kinda things as everyone else “a horror film that has more blistering observations about race than half a dozen well-intentioned Oscar-bait dramas” “Get Out is refreshing in its naked, frank aggression about confronting racial issues, with comedy, drama, and sharp, unsparing insight.” and “an agile entertainment whose social and cultural observations are woven so tightly into the fabric that you’re laughing even as you’re thinking, and vice-versa.”

Or you know: Get Out is the film we need right now.

I’m not here to hate on Get Out. Speaking just for myself: I think it’s one of the best films I saw last year. It’s funny. Smart. Well made. Entertaining like a motherfucker. And my only real compliant is that I really wish it had done a smash-cut to black as soon as Rod said “I mean, I told you not to go in that house.” But that’s probably it.

My first thought when I finished watching it the first time was that I wasn’t so sure that the Armitages fit your basic bog-standard racist type. Because well if anything they’re the opposite. Racists are normally about how their race is better than all the other races right? “White power” or whatever. While if anything the Armitages are the opposite of that. It’s more like a self-denigration / worship of black people / black bodies – right? What is it that that chubby funny-looking dude says at the party? “Black is cool” or something right?

(And following that line of thought to it’s conclusion: I bet the Armitages and all their mates would most probably love the way that the film plays out – the black guy emerges triumphant right? Like: if you already have a fixation on the idea that “black is better” then Get Out is only going to encourage that right? And hell: if you’re clawing at the bit to see the world through the eyes of a black person then erm: is that the whole point of the film? Cut to Daddy Armitage voting at the Oscars: “If I could, I would have voted for Get Out twice“).

But then shit on second thought: even tho the ideology that the Armitages subscribe to is the opposite to the dictionary definition of racism: it’s still coming from a fucked up place (am reminded of a quote from a Ursula K. Le Guin book I’m reading “To be an atheist is to maintain God.”): because it’s still dehumanising and like the movie shows us: treating someone as nothing more than their skin colour is a crappy thing to do. It’s almost as if the only way to free us all from the trap of racism it just to abandon racist concepts altogether but maybe it’s not that easy – or something?

I wonder if there could exist a version of Get Out that acted as more of an indictment of shitty thinking. That was more aggressive and more brutal somehow maybe. But then also – maybe that misses the point? It is after all – only a film. Not a treatise on human nature or anything so ponderous.

The reviews in the links above talk a lot about how how Get Out really gets to the heart (or whatever) of what racism means or something. It kinda reminds me of how when Obama was first elected it was going to “fix racism.” Maybe some people would like to think the same thing about Jordan Peele and his film? Which you know: is a very nice thought. Although for me at least – I think the beauty of Get Out isn’t how smart it is about race (altho maybe it is: you tell me – I’m welcome to be convinced): it’s more about how smart it is about being a movie.

Smile

There’s this thought that exists at the edge of my brain that I find it hard to put into words properly… Half obvious / half profound: the idea that when we go and see a film or watch something on TV or read a book: we’re mainly looking for stories that will let us nod our heads and poke our fingers in the air and say: “Yeah! You see! Just like that!” The first episode of the new season of Black Mirror is a good example: it encapsulates a lot of feelings that exist right now and I imagine that a lot of people will feel a huge surge of power watching it and having their main ideas about the world feel vindicated. “Yes. This is just what it’s like.” Personally I’m more drawn to stories where I don’t know really know what to think. Where I feel a little bit messed up and uncertain. The very first episode of Black Mirror is a great example (you know: the David Cameron one) where at the end you’ve been pushed and pulled in so many different that all that’s left all of your brain is bits of string (I don’t know anyone who watched it and was like “oh yeah – it was good that he fucked the pig” or “it was bad he fucked the pig” or whatever: instead it’s a succession of events that leaves you not knowing what to think).

And yeah of course of course: a lot of power of the movie comes from you know – showing you what it’s like. Being the only black person in a party full of white people. Meeting the girlfriend’s parents and doing the weird conversational dance (or whatever you want to call it) where every single comment just leads to more awkwardness and more tension…

(Question: would it have tipped the hand of the movie too much if Daddy Armitage had done a “I love black people – hell – I wish I was black.”?)

But I mean shit: there’s already a million articles out there that can speak to that. And hell maybe someone else on here will go into more detail… But for me: the thing I really loved about the movie (and something that I haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere) is the sheer Edgar-Wrightness of it all. Like – is it just me? But it all felt like early prime-cut Edgar Wright Shaun of the Dead / Hot Fuzz style scripting (please don’t mention – yuk – The World’s End or Baby Driver to me please): the way that every single moment was doing three different things at once with every line of dialogue doing twice as much work as you first expected (“keep a piece of her in here.” “couldn’t bear to let them go.”) and every scene making more sense when you run the whole film backwards in your mind (oh – that’s why the groundskeeper was doing laps) etc.

Best example of everything I’m trying to say I think is with The Sunken Place. Like: according to the things I’ve seen and the reviews and people I’ve read: The Sunken Place is a brilliant and searing metaphor for what it’s like to be Black in America. To which I can only say – erm ok? I guess. (I’m neither of those things so what do I know?). But fuck – for me: that’s not the genius of it. What I like about The Sunken Place is how when you’re first introduced to it – it’s fucking terrifying but it seems like a tangent from the rest of the film (what has this got to do with anything?): and it’s only when the finale is starting up that it clicks into place. I mean: a film where white people cut out black people’s brains and live out their lives in their body is spot on and all the rest of it and a little scary as an idea (I guess): but the thing that makes it feel so terrifyingly sickening is that final little twist that the people whose brains have been cut out are still living inside them.

That’s movie magic / the kind of thought that keeps me awake at night.

But hey – what do you think…?

Although I’d agree that using Get Out as a springboard to talk about Race In America and so eventually be not talking about the film itself (thank god!), misses the point, what bridges Get Out as being smart about race and being smart as a movie, is that it is smart – and funny, and entertaining – with how it uses race as a feature of the horror genre, race as characterisation of someone in a film.

So, the Eddie Murphy joke – that did indeed inspire the title (and maybe even the concept?) is a joke about black people watching white people in horror films, and how black people wouldn’t behave like that. Which joke in Get Out is expanded. How would a young black man in America in 2017 behave in a horror film – like he on some level knows he’s in a horror film, no? (Vincent Pricely: ‘The horror film… is America’).

Chiming with what was said above, I love how the title has many meanings, is even a reclamation of the phrase. Though people might not have spotted the Eddie Murphy reference at first, an association they’d be likely to make with the phrase ‘get out’ and a movie marketed as ‘about race’ is the racist command (get out of my country / my twee garden party) – I know I did. Which makes it so pleasing that Lakeith Stanfield is using the phrase as a way to warn and try save his fellow young black man. Minutes before that, Daniel Kaluuya’s predicament really sinks in when his attempt to fist-bump gets taken by Lakeith like a handshake instead. The problem of authenticity strikes again, but this time used as the horror’s bass-drop moment. The Sunken Place too can be read as the place where the horror of your predicament ‘sinks in’. (Also the place where you can’t ‘get out’ from.)

The casting of Lakeith Stanfield was smart, if you know his character in Atlanta, because it made it even more potent to see him after he’s been zombified bourgeois-ified. Sort of like if Eddie Murphy / Dave Chapelle’s ‘white person’ personae came to life and became impossible for them to get out from. Same applies to the canny casting of Marnie from race-anxious tv-show Girls, with her individual fruit loops and glass of separate milk, like an evil Susie Derkins eating sandwich ingredients separately. (Though had the girlfriend been Lena Dunham the casting would’ve even more chef-kissing-finger mwah. They should redo that Donald Glover episode as a reenactment of Get Out). And the casting of Catherine Keneer from Being John Malkovich is a further clever hint of the sunken place. Filmmaking that is thorough on all levels!

smiles

Get Out would have been a lot less effective had the family been racists that we they’re usually portrayed in films, had the party sequence taken place in some obviously Southern and not Waspy homestead. The Armitages are such a great depiction of not just a certain kind of Western liberal cluelessness (which itself has already been depicted and mocked in film and TV many times before) but something newer. If racism means: (a) believing race is real (biological, objective, intrinsic) and (b) that some races are better than others, then yes the Armitages would be horrified at the thought of (a) – “What an awful idea!” (even if in all their actions they behave like (a) is true…). And yet not only do they believe in (b), but to such an extent that they end up loving blackness but not caring about black people. And the whole plot embodies that subtler type of ‘positive racism’. Example: it’s very important that old timey radio DJ from O Brother Where Art Thou? wants Daniel Kaluuya’s eyes. He wants to see how he sees the world: not his youthful beauty or his running speed like the Armitages, but his subjectivity. His blackness, at the cost of the black person. Look how a corny horror device such as brain-swapping can be so fertile. This is Alan Moore era-Swamp Thing levels of intelligent fun with horror tropes.

I also love how the film bridges the ‘for everyone / it’s not for you’ divide. Get Out is a film for everyone (one of the biggest budget to box office films ever?), but in particular made with love for and in expectation of black audiences, like Django Unchained in that respect (in fact its catharsis is very Djangoesque). I ended up watching it twice, once in a stone quiet Dulwich Picturehouse and once at the Peckhamplex where everyone treated the film as not just a horror but the comedy it was. Not for nothing is the audience stand-in character the black friend Rod, a personification of the yell at the screen: ‘What are you doing? Why are you going in there?!’

There is one other audience expectation that’s played with, and that’s less talked about than all the Race In America stuff. The film is genuinely subversive, disturbing, provocative – how did it get away with it? – in that it makes a horror / comedy out of anxieties about interracial relationships from the minority perspective. Or to put that less flouncily, ‘what black women think of white women’. (Fun fact I learnt recently – shiksa, the Yiddish term for a Jewish man’s gentile girlfriend, means ‘impure’ or ‘object of loathing’). The bait and traitor being Rose Armitage, the hypnotist being Marnie Armitage is an acting out of those old sly jokes non-white people make about those who’d steal away their men. The risk, then, the boldness, to end your film by showing two black men kill two white women and want the audience to root for that, transforming the old racist scare story into the climax of your scary er story. Even though the Armitages might be the type of family who’d just love Get Out and write their takes about it for Atlantic or Slate Dot Com, their very cluelessness is part of the point of film: they can’t see what everyone else does, eye-theft notwithstanding: the ways the film fucks with you, and why everyone is laughing.

The more I think about it the crux of the film is the casting of Josh Lyman as the dad/mad-scientist. His appearance in Get Out is great because as has been said earlier, rather than just baddies who are just openly racist red necks, instead they are “nice,” middle class Liberals, indeed beyond nice the Chief baddie is actually Josh Lyman, the poster boy of nice Liberals, a man who you believe would happily vote for Obama three times (and in West Wing World helped an Obama like figure get elected) – yet in the film as in real life, to some extent they are the worse enemy. Everyone knows cops are racist, Republicans are evil, that Donal Trump is evil – it’s not interesting to do that story. But the suggestion is that we are in fair and just West Wing World where everyone is nice and political differences are just an argument about the best way to build a more perfect union. So everyone would be perfectly nice to a black man, even admire them enough to want to be them, and this lends so much more to the banality of their evil as they also all agree that is perfectly reasonable to steal their bodies. This is Get Out’s magic and raises it above other movies (not just horror movies), as it skewers Obama’s America where Libs patted themselves on the back while simultaneously continuing to ignore structural racism in America. However this element also leads to my biggest criticism because (unless I missed it) Get Out fails to even hint that the body snatching might have been a wider issue, not even a throw-away line that could have suggested that this was not just a one-off group of maniacs. It doesn’t pose the obviously scary question of what if millions of people across the country had already had their brains swapped.

To give the counter-example I am currently playing the game Inside on my phone (which I can highly recommend to horror fans), and in one of the sequences you have to pretend to be under mind control, marching with other automatons. It’s chilling because as you march in front of a group of corporate suits who look on impassively, you realise that the society depicted in the game has accepted the enslavement of humanity as just “the new normal,” for everyone to just make the best of. This is all conveyed in about 20 seconds and it beautifully horrible. Another example is the Handmaid’s Tale, where you see how quickly women’s rights are stripped away across the entire United States. In a world where climate change and other catastrophes rush towards us and are met by widespread “meh” it is more affecting, to my mind anyway. From an entertainment point of view that small change could have brought an extra bleakness to the horror. In Get Out however, the bad guys are vanquished, the status quo re-asserts itself, the credits roll and that feels like a small betrayal not just of the message but of the narrative weight.

scream

That is not to criticise the overall content of the film and especially not the ending which is excellent. I’ll leave the police car for others to talk about, but I really like the choice on the haunted house theme. When Chris escapes from The Chair, it could have been an opportunity to go on a mini-tour of the worst excesses of the experiments in true Alien Resurrection style, or it could have been a tedious sequence of mini-boss battles like some sort of Resident Evil variation. The fact that he does *get out* pretty quickly was a relief, and also satisfying. Nothing wrong with some brutal vengeance against people who tried to steal your brain and leave you as a ghost in your own body.

The misdirection is great throughout. I particularly liked the conceit of his phone constantly being unplugged. It’s brilliant because it speaks to the innate horror everyone has of being trapped in isolated location with family and no phone charge, and on the face of it nods to the “why wouldn’t he just call the police” problem of all horror movies made after the turn of the century. But it’s a false tension, because of course he does contact the police and they just don’t give a shit – not only setting up the ending nicely, but also presumably making another jab at the black/working class experience.

Those are my initial observations anyway.

Ok. Some random thoughts:

Speaking of Eddie Murphy = Holy wow – check out this trivia:

Eddie Murphy was originally chosen to play Chris, but Jordan Peele changed his mind after it was decided he was too old for the role.

That… would have been a very different movie. Less a thing about a black guy worried about white parents thinking things about him dating their daughter and more a thing of the audience thinking about why the hell is a 56 year old man dating a 29 year old? Although maybe Jordan Peele could have got Woody Allen to help co-direct it and then everything would have been fine…

Eddie

Re: “Example: it’s very important that old timey radio DJ from O Brother Where Art Thou? wants Daniel Kaluuya’s eyes. He wants to see how he sees the world: not his youthful beauty or his running speed like the Armitages, but his subjectivity. His blackness, at the cost of the black person.”

(You say “old timey radio DJ”. I say “Milton“. Let’s call the whole thing off?)

Like: there’s a whole thing right there as to whether or not Milton is after Chris’ “blackness.”

I mean this is what is said in the movie:

Chris: “Why black people?”

Milton: “Who knows? Some people want to change– some people want to be stronger, faster, cooler. But don’t, please, don’t lump me into that. I couldn’t give a shit what color you are: what I want is deeper. I want your eyes, man. I want those things you see through.”

Like taking what Milton says at face-value this seems to be a pretty strong refutation of that. All he wants is his magical photography powers.

(Whoops – quick sidenote: erm – Is Chris really a good photographer? I mean obviously I don’t know anything about photography – but the photos he has up around his house just seem kinda… bland? But whatever. I’m not really into photography lol).

But hell – maybe there’s an argument to be made that Chris’ eye and his blackness are intertwined. That the reason he has such a good eye is because of who he is and what he’s experienced and that is tied up with how he’s been treated and the colour of his skin? I mean: half of me wants to believe this and half of me doesn’t. Like – shit: what if the movie didn’t have a happy ending and went 80s VHS horror film dark and Chris lost and Milton ended up with his eyes – what kind of photos would Milton(Chris) end up taking? Would they still be “gritty urban shots” or something different? In fact: how the hell would Milton(Chris) explain his new found eyesight? “Miracle cure”? Oh man: and – gong further: how would Milton(Chris)’s photography be received? Like I’ve already said: I’m not really into photography – but wouldn’t it be like – well to reuse my example from before as if Woody Allen’s new film was Get Out? Like: would people be willing to accept that? Or would they be like: what the hell is this old crusty white dude doing?

Other questions:

How does it work with their Grandparents? Did Missy and Dean treat them like the hired help just because Chris is around and they didn’t want him sussing things out? Or is it like a permanent thing? Grandpa chops wood and Grandma serves drinks? Or hell: more sinister maybe – what if Grandpa and Grandma were the first two to undergo the Coagula treatment and it didn’t quite work… So the reason that they both seem a little off isn’t just because they’re old white people in young black bodies – but because their brains got busted up in the process and that’s the reason they’re treated as the help (sadly that’s all they’re good for).

Also: how the hell did the whole Coagula treatment thing whatever get started? Jordan Peele has apparently talked about the possibility of a sequel: but hell – this is probably one of the very few films that actually gets me excited when I think about what it would be like with a prequel. (Get Out: Origins). Like: how does the subject of kidnapping black people and swapping out their brains get broached in the first place?? I wanna see the Armitages as a normal boring family doing boring family stuff and then one day over lunch Dad laughs to himself and says: “Ok guys. I know this is going to sound crazy – but hear me out…” Like: was everyone onboard straight away? Or did some people have to be convinced? And you know: once the family business starts running – how did they manage to get other interested parties involved? Is it like a friends of friends thing – or did they put out an ad on Craigslist?

Also: Mazin and Jonathan – yeah yeah yeah – you guys gave a lot of love to all the cast members: but nowhere near enough love to Daniel Kaluuya who is fucking amazing for so many reasons (and yeah – as lame as I know it is to admit this: but ever since I saw him in that Black Mirror episode: I’ve kinda wished that he was my friend) – number one on my list being how he does pretty much all of his acting with subtle tilts of his head:
Head Tilt 1
Head Tilt 2
Head Tilt 3

Maybe (and I’m obviously being a tiny bit frivolous here because there’s obviously a hundred other reasons here): but that first Sunken Place scene is so completely powerful because his head goes completely still and faces us head on. Which is un-nerving as hell.

Will leave it for there now.

A couple thoughts on the portrayal of racism in Get Out. (And I enjoyed this movie a lot; like Joel I found it very smart and funny.)

I think I disagree with some of your reading on the racism, Joel – specifically the idea that the Armitages and their friends are using black people because they admire something about blackness. I don’t think they’re wannabe Rachel Dolezals. While racist fetishes are also a thing, and maybe the Philomena – Andre dynamic is representative of that, I don’t think underlying justification that simple.

In the “Why black people?” exchange, I think Jim Hudson dodges the answer. He makes generalizations about what other white people want from black bodies, but Hudson sees himself as an individual with a unique requirement: a specific talent that Chris possesses, and to which he feels he’s entitled by virtue of desiring it. It’s so basic an assumption, I don’t think he’s even aware of it.

In the world view of the Armitages and their friends, black people don’t have the same kind of personhood that white people have, and so they don’t have the same right to self-determination or even authority over their own bodies. And so when the Armitages need something, like a fresh young body to replace a failing one, or a set of healthy eyes, something it would be unthinkable to just take from a white person, they feel no moral qualms taking it from a black person.

The same way we humans have no moral qualms about taking heart valves from pigs–we don’t (most of us) hate pigs, nor do we admire them and want to be them–they simply have something we need and we feel our desire for it entitles us to take it because our lives are worth more than theirs. It’s an invisible assumption about relative worth that permeates society.

I think you also have another level, which is that it’s easier to just take people from a population that’s less likely to go to the police, and less likely to be taken seriously if they do. I think the scene where Rod does try and go to the police was really well done, especially because the cop was a black woman. That kind of helplessness in the face of authority would have had less impact if he’d been trying to convince a white cop because it would have been easy to reduce the dismissal to personal racism on the cop’s part.

One of the things I think Get Out did really well is to show systemic racism. I think that’s a lot harder to convey than personal prejudice and bigotry.


JOEL
Barbican Comic Forum
00000000 / Kraken
Brain Teeth

Feels like maybe I’m doing this all wrong and being way too forgiving and whatever (maybe Jason would have liked someone to ask him if he was ok? Maybe Freddie just wanted to talk about his dreams? Maybe Leatherface just needed a hug? etc) because yeah – dur – the Armitages and their ilk are obviously the bad guys and I should probably stop trying to understand them – but damn it: it’s interesting and I can’t help myself… lol.

To reply to what Frankie said: I mean yeah obviously that’s true about the pig thing but in the case of Jim “Milton” Hudson I mean: don’t we have reason to be a little agnostic about his “real” motivations? Like: the dude is blind and he’s been given a chance to not only be able to see again: but also to have super-powered eyes that’ll let him be a cool beloved photographer or whatever. Or to put it another way: if someone offered me the chance to put my brain into Tom Cruise’s body and live his life and I said yes – that doesn’t mean that I hate short gay people you know?

And just to be clear: I’m not saying that Jim Hudson definitely isn’t full of systemic racism just that – going by what the film shows you I think it’s deliberately kept ambiguous and whether or not you think that the spinning top is going to full down or stay spinning probably says more about you than it does about him. (Cut to: Jordan Peele interview with him saying: “Oh yeah. Joel doesn’t know what he’s talking about – Jim Hudson is totally the biggest racist of them all.”).


MAZIN
Barbican Comic Forum
Maybe That’s The Point / Kraken

Regarding “But hell – maybe there’s an argument to be made that Chris’ eye and his blackness are intertwined. ” I think all that’s important is that the Armitages believe that. That’s why it’s still suspect when someone says ‘but it’s good that I think they all dance really well’. Sure, Old Timey O Brother Where Art Thou DJ says he doesn’t care either way, but I took the line of dialogue as what makes his character the non-racist beneficiary of racism. He’s the private prison warden who genuinely doesn’t think white people are better than black people or that black people are prone to crime, but nonetheless reaps the benefits of the racist system. The fact that he is willing to steal Daniel Kaluuya’s (Tea Leaf’s) eyes doesn’t make him a racist any more than all the beneficiaries of racism aren’t therefore racists. I think his ‘nice’ video message was meant to portray him as exactly that: proof that you don’t need to be a racist to reap the benefits of racial hierarchy, since it’s the hierarchy part that pays the dividends.

To expand on Frankie’s point, author Jacob Bacharach makes a nice distinction between racism of affect and racism of effect. The former is the ‘sense or tone or emotion of racism’ and the latter is ‘the racially stratified consequences’. So yeah, you can lack the affect: ‘I don’t care if you’re black’ and still do the effect: ‘I qualmlessly hijack a black man’s body and condemn him to brain-jail‘.


JOEL
Barbican Comic Forum
00000000 / Kraken
Brain Teeth

Now – I could be totally off base here but the distinction between Racism of Affect and Racism of Effect doesn’t seem to me to be a particularly helpful one – at least not if your aims are the same as mine. Mainly because if start to see Racism of Effect (‘the racially stratified consequences’) as being a part of what Racism is then almost instantaneously we’re at a place where everyone is racist (and not in that cute Avenue Q way either). I mean: I don’t think I’m saying anything particularly controversial here: but we all live in a racist society and all of us in lots of different tiny and almost undetectable ways suffer and benefit from this everyday. We’re all reaping the whirlwind. We’re all enjoying the racially stratified consequences. And I would say that this applies to us all – no matter what the colour of your skin. In a society that judges you on the colour of your skin then well – you’re going to be judged on the colour of your skin in ways both good and ill. Which just you know – full disclosure: is bad (*shocked gasp*)

But here’s my issue: I think if this is how we understand what Racism is (and judging from what I’ve seen on the internet: it seems like there are people out there that would want precisely this for various reasons) then I think you lose the ability to fight what I think Racism really is. That is to say: if you’re saying there’s Wolf of Affect and Wolf of Effect and it follows from that there’s actually Wolf everywhere when you really think about it then I’m not sure you’re going to be able to get much attention when you want to start screaming “Wolf” for real – yeah? (And – yes – there will be times when we need to scream “Wolf” for real).

Which is basically what I don’t get with this impetus of wanting to label Jim “Milton” Hudson a racist.

Like I agree !00% with describing him as “the non-racist beneficiary of racism” because duh obviously. But to go further than that and to say that the non-racist is actually racist – I don’t know.

I mean: I should admit that nowadays I mostly feel pretty lost about who gets called a racist and why. Of course it seems that everyone’s favourite hobby nowadays is called Trump a racist – but I pretty much agree with everything in this article that says that doesn’t really get to the meat of the problem (and actually maybe just helps to embolden him?)

Like for me: it only really makes sense to call someone a racist if say something unequivocally and irretrievably racist and it makes sense to attribute to them racist beliefs. Anything else seems like something else and probably would be best described with a different word. Although maybe that would leave some people disappointed as there are very few other words out there that have as much power to inflict as much damage as calling someone a racist does (and you know: bright side: it’s actually probably a good thing that we exist in a society that works like that… Not even a hundred years ago calling someone a racist probably just earned you a shrug).

Altho – maybe we all have different definitions of what a “racist” even is?

I think we can all agree that if there is a thing the film does brilliantly it is to raise the many issues of race and get people thinking, by having explicit racism, polite liberal racism, and evil steel-your-body racism all neatly lined up (I’m happy to let sociologists argue over which is worse). However the film strikes a good balance between these three.

All great films need a satisfying ending and although I’m not sure anyone else has brought it up but clearly the police car showing up at the end is a master stroke.

To digress slightly, in the 2016 film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story there is a bit at the end where a famous Sith Lord shows up. It’s a fantastic sequence, but it could have been so much better if the same guy hadn’t shown up making wisecracks earlier in the movie. If he had been completely ignored until that moment where in the darkness just before the goodies escape a red light sabre suddenly ignites then I think I would have given it a standing ovation. Instead the moment has to settle for just being pretty great.

Back to Get Out they seem to have a similar problem, but it’s a brilliant piece of miss-direction. When the police show up, our first instinct should be “phew. Here comes to cavalry, law and order will be imposed”. But the film has done just enough so no matter what your background you know that the police showing up is terrifying. Boom – Institutional racism delivered like a glorious bullet in a way no amount of bitching on Twitter will ever achieve. It’s not unprecedented but it pays off so damn well. And then they give you the “phew, here comes the cavalry” moment as well. Punch the air, high five the person sitting next to you. It’s perhaps an obvious point but worth noting.

Get Out was nominated this week for Best Picture at the Oscars, but leaving aside how pointless and offensive the Oscars are, it’s scenes like that which do enough to raise it to an “Oscar level movie”. Three Billboards is further down the nominees list – a film which literally rehabilitates a racist cop in front of your eyes – and it’s because of Get Out that people are rightly pointing out that film is problematic in a way that countless Clint Eastwood films and their ilk have gotten a way with for decades.


JOEL
Barbican Comic Forum
00000000 / Kraken
Brain Teeth

I know we’re almost out of time – but there’s just one more piece of kindling I wanted to throw on the fire before we’re done…

Just wondering if anyone had any thoughts about the reality gap that sits in the heart of the film? I mean: as far as I know – there’s no secret of cabal of white people out there stealing black bodies and using them like that tiny dude in Men in Black…

tiny pilot

Truth is: all the various flavours of racism out there are a lot more insidious and *shocked gasp* a lot more boring. There’s no science-fiction body horror stuff – there’s just people being shitty to each other and not thinking to question their various bullshit ideologies…

Altho this gets me to thinking: what would a realistic version of Get Out look like? If you scooped out the bit where it leaves reality behind with one of them ice cream thingies? Because here’s the thing: according to our general understanding – Rod is a crazy person.

Like if you went into a police station and said his whole bit of “and I start putting pieces together. And see, this is what I came up with. They’re probably abducting black people, brainwashing them and making them slaves… or sex slaves. Not just regular slaves, but sex slaves and shit.” then it would make total sense for them to laugh at you.

Like – if you wanted to get into trouble: you could re-edit the film and instead of having the happy ending of “I mean, I told you not to go in that house.” you could have Rod showing up to find a crazed blood soaked Chris surrounded by all these dead people and then when they go to verify all the crazy stuff that Chris says they just find a normal family house with no operating room and all the rest of it… (I call this “the Reality Cut”).

And the thing that’s interesting to me about this line of thought is that it kinda makes explicit how many movies are just crazy fantasies showing you very particular views of the world: mostly about something that’s just beyond what we know to be true.

Cut to: Bruce Wayne having to explain why he beat up that poor defenseless clown.

Cut to: Martin Brody having to explain to the authorities why he thought there was a giant intelligent shark terrorizing the locals.

Cut to: John McClane having to explain why he blew up the Nakatomi Plaza. (“You thought there were terrorists?” “Erm well yeah” While the psychiatrists stand around and shake their heads and write down in their notes that it’s obviously a form of displacement based around his wife moving on with her life….).

In fact yeah – once you start to think about it: pretty much most films are just delusional psychotic episodes seen from the inside where we cheer on the person having the mental breakdown.

Or you know: whatever.

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