NYU Black Renaissance Noire Volume 18 Issue 3 - Fall 2018 - Page 38

non-fiction By Melba Joyce Boyd m Daniel Kaluuya as Chris Washington in Get Out. Get Out is also another version of a classic cinematic theme — a boyfriend going to meet his girlfriend’s parents, such as Meet the Parents 2000, directed by Jay Roach, starring Robert DeNiro, Ben Stiller, and Terri Polo; and Guess Who (2005) directed by Kevin Rodney Sullivan, starring Bernie Mack, Zoe Saldana, and Ashton Kutcher. In Guess Who, the boyfriend is White and the girlfriend is Black, a racial role reversal and a comedic take-off of the serious, 1967 Civil Rights drama, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, directed by Stanley Kramer, starring Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn, Katharine Houghton, and Spencer Tracy. Get Out combines and extends these cinematic scenarios to create a shocking horror flick, with a far more ruthless plot than the suspicious, overbearing actions of disapproving, over-protective fathers with racial issues. The opening scene is dark — night time: A tall, young Black man (Lakeith Stanfield) is walking in the shadows, talking on his cell phone to his girlfriend, expressing concern about being lost in a “creepy, confusing-ass suburb. Got me sticking out here like a sore thumb.” A white car begins trolling him, like George Zimmerman stalking Trayvon Martin in a gated community in Florida.“Run Rabbit Run” is playing on the car’s sound system, which introduces the thrust of the film’s plot and describing what this character needs to do. The Black man anxiously changes direction to avoid any encounter, to no avail. He is grabbed from behind and rendered unconscious. His abductor wears a metal mask, reminiscent of knights from the Medieval historical period. Eerie music underscores the film title and credits over surreal imagery of a rural landscape, followed by still photos of a Black community taken by Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya), the photographer who took them, who is packing for a trip. The popular song, “Redbone,” plays in the background, and the refrain “Stay Woke” warns and foreshadows ensuing events. Through crosscutting, the song’s lyrics underscore the thematic connection between Chris and Rose Armitage (Allison Williams), who is buying pastries at a bakery for the drive upstate. Because Chris is Black, he is apprehensive about visiting Rose’s parents, and this concern intensifies, because she says she has not informed her parents of this crucial detail because she says “they are not racist.” Similar to Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, liberalism can be a contradictory perspective when the issue of interracial love enters the conversation. “My father would have voted for Obama for a third term,” Rose says, offering this statement as proof of her father’s sincerity, which is later echoed by Dean Armitage (Bradford Whitley) with the added comment, “Best damn president in my life time, hands down.” Subsequently, one wonders if Dean would have liked to possess President Obama’s mind and body during that imaginary third term. Enroute to the Armitage Estate, a hilarious cell phone conversation between Chris and his best friend, Rod Williams (Lil Rel Howlery), a t.s.a. agent, suggests the film might be a comedy. Rod seems to be joking about why Chris should “not go to the White girlfriend’s parents’ house,” but Rod is actually serious. Rose insists on talking to Rod, a flirtatious interference that disconnects Rod’s influence on Chris, but it also reflects Rose’s dubious character. Throughout the film, the cell phone is a critical resource for Chris, serving as his contact to Rod, and to a world beyond the Armitage Estate. Ultimately, it is the instrument that will save Chris’s life. This layered duality is established in the opening scenes and is ingrained throughout the film’s construct. Multiple signs and recurring symbols embedded in the imagery will not be fully realized, until hidden details are revealed as the plot unfolds. The film is more complex, however, than a metaphorical throwback to slavery. [Jordan]Peele exploits the slavery motif to critique racial privilege and to expose it as a subversive and characteristic force of neoliberalism. After viewing the film, I also thought about the poem, “The White Man’s Got a God Complex” (1971) by the Last Poets, which thematically deals with White society’s dangerous and deadly disregard in their pursuit for power for the lives of people of color. Both references are applicable to this horror film, which is far more frightening than vampires sucking on necks or zombies invading bodies, because the film’s theme penetrates the psyche of racial supremacy that rationalizes the possession of other people’s lives, exploiting their attributes and talents in order to achieve immortality. Written and directed by Jordan Peele, and the recipient of an Academy Award for “Best Original Screenplay,” the genius of the script lies in the construction of imagery that employs and improvises the concept of double consciousness in characterization and expertly executes and coordinates the technique of double entendre in dialogue and action. Get Out (2017) immediately reminded me of a tee shirt with the inscription: “Harriet Tubman, 1849, ‘We Out’,” probably because this Afro-futuristic theme is about the escape of a brother, abducted by wealthy whites in a modern-day setting. “ Double Entendre and Double Consciousness in the Cinematic Construct of Get Out”