A Brief Glimpse at Get Out (2017): A Socio-Political Instigator

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Jordan Peele’s Get Out (2017) closely follows in the footsteps of the social justice framework set by Bryan Forbes’ Stepford Wives (1975). However, as opposed to sexism, Peele confronts contemporary systemic racism in a similar head-on fashion. Being one of the most “black and white” color films of its time, the viewer is exposed to hyperbolic visual motifs tacit to the segregation within our society. Within the first scene, we watch an unsuspecting African-American man out for a midnight stroll down a suburban sidewalk. Suddenly, a lurking white car pulls up behind the man akin to Michael trailing behind Sally in Halloween (1978). Through this scene, Peele immediately conveys his directional intent for the film, and it only builds from there.

While Get Out foments great socio-political conversation, it adheres to traditional constituents of the horror genre. For example, the audience is subjected to the occasional jump scare, suspense-eliciting cacophonies, a highlighted victim, and recognizable trite horror motifs such as the forest surrounding the terrible place (Armitage’s home). Rather than analyzing the general elements of the horror genre, the real discussion lies within Peele’s approach to utilizing horror to combat racism. One of the most innovative constructs the film introduces is the concept of the “sunken place.” Throughout the film, we frequently view the protagonist from a high angle stuck in a silencing and restraining dark pit or “sunken place.” This can easily be translated to the paralyzing effect society has on minorities today. The idea of one being able to speak out, just as the protagonist attempts to do before being sent to the pit, can be threatening to systemic racism; thus, resulting in the prolific silencing of minorities in society. Moreover, toward the end of the film, we see a white woman, wearing white, eating a bowl of multi-colored froot loops, and sipping on a glass full of white milk. However, if observed in further detail, it can be surmised that this scene represents segregation, or the white class separating themselves from African Americans, seeing as most people would pour milk in their cereal. In addition to these examples, Peele implements many more allegories exposing the despicable reality of segregation pervasive in society today.

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Beyond the serious, confrontational tone set by the film, Peele proves himself an auteur through his embellishment of the diegesis with elements of comedic relief; generally stemming from Lil Rel Howery’s character, Rod Williams. While it never hurts to induce laughter in your audience, these comical scenes may also be implemented to allow the viewer to step outside of their induced panic state to digest and comprehend what they are witnessing. In result, this element produces a subtlety that not only structurally aligns the viewer with the film, but further ingrains the lesson Peele masterfully conveys to his audience. Overall, Get Out’s ability to both entertain and directly confront a present socio-political issue, with expertise, places it in the top horror films of the 21st century.

— Levi R. Schmillen, Film Blogger

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