The Inner Workings of Black Folks: A Review of “Get Out”

Written by C.Diva

From the first moments of this film, even before the opening credits, the one consistent thought that ran through my head was, “Do white people know this is how black folks think when we’re around them? How do the white people in the audience feel about hearing these nervous evaluations of black people when we are around white people?” Jordan Peele, the director and writer of Get Out, revealed right there up on the big screen the inner workings of black folks and my first thought was “How do white people feel about this?” which shows more about me and my conception of race than anything else. I’ve already written a non-review of the film here, but I want to get into some of the emotions that I felt while I watched Get Out a year since its release.

Even before the horror stuff starts, each encounter between Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and a white person is fraught with underlying tension.  The way that Mr. and Mrs. Armitage (Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener) treat Chris–with forced liberal ease that can make even the most chill black person feel uncomfortable–contrasts with how Jeremy Armitage (Caleb Landry Jones) treats Chris. Jeremy’s overt racism and hostility is only a distraction from the fact that everyone in this family is damn crazy. For Chris and the audience, Rose (Allison Williams) seems the typical naive young white woman in her first interracial relationship–shocked and embarrassed by the way her family treats Chris and ready to return to their life in the big city.

The thing is, nothing about this situation is normal and the audience as well as Chris should have picked up what the Armitages and this entire situation was laying down from the moment Rose tells Chris that she didn’t tell her parents he was black because she didn’t think it was “important”. Chris, too, is concerned with how the white people will feel if he voices his anxiety or true reaction to their microaggressions. Instead of being honest with himself, Chris, like so many black people in similar awkward situations, is more worried about the feelings of his girlfriend, her parents and their family friends that he sacrifices his safety and well being so as not to make waves.

A lot has been said about Get Out over the past year and I wasn’t surprised when it received an Oscar nomination for best film, especially after Moonlight won last year and opened the floodgates for well written, thoughtful black films. Critics love this movie; I have even heard Peele compared to Alfred Hitchcock, his vision lauded as “race-savvy satire” and a “cultural moment”. Still, I don’t think this movie will win best film, simply because of the fact that it confronts race in a way that may make white liberals of the Academy uneasy. Luckily, Jordan Peele didn’t create this movie hoping to be in the running to win an award, he made it to start a conversation about race in 2017 “post-racial” America, the same year that Trump entered the White House and, in a wonderful turn of events, kicked off a slew of amazing black television and film.