Get Out is a dream of a masterpiece.
It is a must see for most any Black person who has dated a person of European heritage.
It takes its cue from what Guess Whose Coming to Dinner left out and from where Amira Baraka’s Dutchman left off.
It is the horror film we all played out in our most paranoid minds. And where perhaps it fails as a creepy horror film, it succeeds as a modern Black folk tale.
Indeed, all praises go out to this film. Not because they are right -politically or otherwise – but because it tells the tale of the Black nationalist worst fears: that the Black race will give up their will and actually think (and worse) feel like White people.
The film cleverly present this premise hidden within the defined constructs of the conventional horror film.
It has long been noted that Black people don’t normally feature in horror films. Black people are more often depicted as acting out our tensions through musical expression and comedy before allowing fears to overtake us. Any other depiction of a Black person confronted by evil that confronts this stereotype has seemed unthinkable.
In the last decades there have been a few attempts at bringing a true Black identity into the horror genre, but I doubt any have succeeded as well as the film Get Out has.
The list of this films indirect cultural and folklore archetype references are many:
- The Black male backsliding Uncle Tom sell out
- The White female Jezebel temptress
- Nat Turner and the Big Payback
- Dick Gregory conspiracist/ Black nationalist
- White supremacists hidden inferiority complex
- The mojo whammy
- The House Negro/ Field Negro
Chris, the film’s protagonist, played by Daniel Kaluuya, is a Black photographer in his 20s who is dating a well off White girl played by Alison Williams. The film sees them set off to meet her family in remote countryside.
Chris’s best friend, played by Lil Rel Howery, works as a TSA security check person at the airport. This is significant, because American airports are often full of Black employees. You can’t help but think of the irony that these employees working on the frontline of international terrorist security are the ones who are the most likely victims of US state-sponsored terrorism.
The TSA employee that greets you when you re-enter the American city is inevitably Black. And you know him from high school, church or the street-corner food stand line.
Indeed, in the film the TSA employee steals the show and is the hero. So in that sense, the film not only brings to life our modern folklore, but creates new and future archetypes and folk heroes.
Just when Get Out is starting to become unbearably creepy and sick, the TSA man steps in and keeps it real. This happens every time Chris, who is stuck in the middle of nowhere with some weird-ass White people, checks in on the phone with his TSA employee friend who responds to Chris’s situation with pure and profound Richard Pryor-esque insight.
William Boroughs once said ‘the paranoid man knows the facts.’ The TSA man is Dick Gregory and Chris Rock wrapped into one, warning Chris not to go to a White girlfriend’s parents’ house, and insisting that he be wary of outside races’ intentions.
TSA man is ultimately dismissed as a fool and buffoon, not only by these outside races, but by his own – until the final scene.
The film asks the question ‘what are you here for, what is your purpose?’ And it shows us what we truly fear: turning White.