NYU Black Renaissance Noire Volume 18 Issue 3 - Fall 2018 - Page 44

EN DNOTES T.S.A. Rod Williams brings balance to mysterious and terrifying plot developments and provides comic relief with an endearing African American sensibility. While Rod exhibits instincts that counter and anticipate, his best friend is blinded by love; that Rod is a t.s.a. officer supplies a suspicious characteristic that challenges Chris’s trusting, sensitive naiveté. Their phone conversations are curious and hilarious, which suggests that Rod is not to be taken seriously. His over-zealous instincts suspect an elderly female passenger might be a terrorist. His judgment is reprimanded, which initially suggests to the audience that Rod might not be a reliable witness. At the same time, Rod gains credibility as he supplies real details and analysis, as the plot thickens. Denying the credibility of Dean’s clinical expertise as a neurosurgeon, Chris does not accept the explanation that Logan had a seizure. Furthermore, he states: “I know him — not Logan, but the guy who came at me.” This recognition of the two persons is confirmed when Rod recognizes Andre in the photo. “That’s Dre. Andre Hayworth, who used to hang out with Veronica…Theresa’s sister who works at the movie theatre on 8th.” Rod’s response confirms Chris’s concern about being hypnotized, and when Rod hears about the older White woman, he yells, “Sex slave!” He tells Chris, “You might be in some kind of Eyes Wide Shut situation,” a reference to Stanley Kubrick’s erotic film (1999) about sexual adventures. The double entendre of Rod Williams’ dialogue reiterates the subtle and nuanced “double consciousness” that pervades this film, especially the scene in the police station. Unable to reach Chris by phone, Rod decides to engage the police. He identifies himself as a t.s.a. officer and presents his credentials to affirm his credibility. He explains to a Black policewoman his concern about the disappearance of Chris and his suspicion that Chris has been hypnotized and is a sex slave, referencing Andre’s bizarre circumstances as evidence of a pattern. The female officer pretends to take Rod’s report seriously; however, after she returns with two more Black officers, who listen intensely to Rod’s story about sex slavery, they all burst into laughter. The policewoman turns and says to her colleagues: “Don’t you ever say I haven’t done anything for you.” The joke is at Rod’s expense, but her last comment, “The White girls will get you every time,” reiterates Rod’s previous warnings to Chris. The underlying horror of this statement is historical. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, even a rumor of a romantic liaison or sexual encounter with a White woman could result in the lynching of a Black male. “CONSI DER TH E SITUATION HAN DLED” Chris outsmarts his captors by stuffing his ears with fabric that resembles cotton from the chair. No longer susceptible to Missy’s hypnosis technique, he knocks Jeremy out with a pool ball and uses the mounted deer head on the wall as a weapon, gorging Dean in the gut with it. This compounded symbolism provides revenge for the deer and facilitates Chris’s escape. Like a fugitive slave, or Django Freeman (Jamie Foxx) in Quentin Tarintino’s Django Unchained, Chris eventually kills the whole family — Jeremy, Dean, and Missy, and coincidentally burns down the Big House, when Dean falls into a candle that sets the surgical room on fire. Because Chris can’t let her die by the side of the road, like his mother, he mistakenly tries to save Georgina (Grandma) after she runs into Jeremy’s white car during Chris’s escape. When Grandma (Georgina) regains consciousness, she attacks Chris, causing the car crash. Rose shoots at Chris with a shotgun, and Grandpa (Walter) runs him down, like Jessie Owens sprinting in an Olympic race. But the cell phone camera saves Chris. He startles Walter out of The Sunken Place with the flash. Walter stops choking Chris, gets up, turns around, reaches for the gun, and tells Rose, “Let me do it.” The timbre of Walter’s voice changes, because he is now “Woke.” But, White Rose does not notice the shift in his intonation, and she gives him the shotgun. Walter shoots her in the gut. Red blood discolors her white turtleneck, and she collapses. Then, Walter shoots himself in the head, killing Grandpa and ending his misery in The Sunken Place. Get Out is a fascinating film that recalls the memory of slavery, while projecting contemporary ignorance and racism that persist in American culture and society under the guise of neoliberalism. The contemporary horror of Donald Trump’s “God Complex” is symbolic of a portrait of President Andrew Jackson, hanging in the oval office. When Trump fired Omarosa, and her tenure on the White House staff ended, people joked that she was in charge of The Sunken Place, where people of color are expected to assume roles that enhance the vision of White privilege. Unlike Colin Kaepernick protesting police brutality, or LeBron James, who is told to “shut up and dribble,” “Black is back in fashion” as long as it acquiesces, compliant to tyranny as dictated by the current presidential administration. Appropriate Blacks think and act like White people, residing in The Sunken Place, where “double consciousness” dictates race relations in the White world and double talk dominates conversations about race. Black people are threatened and forbidden to “stay woke,” speaking truth to power. “I told you not to go there,” Rod says, upon arriving in the final scene with lights flashing and sirens singing in the darkness. Rod is Chris’s Harriet Tubman, rescuing him after his Nat Turner rebellion that probably would have ended with imprisonment or death. But Jordan Peele wanted to have a happy ending, the ultimate double entendre, securing the homeland from domestic terrorism: “I am t.s. mother-fucking a. We handle shit. Consider the situation handled.” As Rod and Chris drive away, I hear Harriet Tubman’s echo: “We Out.” n 1 The Last Poets, This Is Madness, 1971, audio album. 2  W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folks. (New York: The Modern Library, 1996) p. 5. Originally published by Blue Heron, New York, 1953. 3  President Andrew Jackson, a Southern slave owner, was responsible for the removal of Cherokee Native Americans from the Southern United States to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears that resulted in the death of thousands. It should also be noted that after the United States purchased Florida from Spain, Jackson lost a war waged on the Seminole Nation in an attempt to retrieve fugitive slaves, who were members of the Seminole Nation and to remove these Native Americans to a reservation in the Southwest. 4 Ibid. 5 Ibid. “I AM TH E T.S. MUTHA FUC KI N’ A. WE HAN DLE SH IT.” When Rod’s comments are juxtaposed with Chris’s experiences at the Armitage’s estate, however, the audience becomes more aware and begins to connect the dots, especially after Missy hypnotizes Chris. Rod shouts: “They can have you doing anything … barking like a dog, or flapping around like a pigeon… turn you into a sex slave,” which is exactly what happened to Logan. Chris explains to Rod, “It’s as if all the Black people here missed the movement.” The video sequences are allusions to a scene in The Matrix, when seated in red leather chairs, Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) tells Neo (Keanu Reeves) “You are a slave, Neo.” Then, Morpheus clicks a remote and they appear inside the television set, while Morpheus explains “The Matrix” to Neo. This cinematic parallel is also a futuristic projection about slavery. Like The Matrix, The Sunken Place is a dream-like state, where human life is used to empower The Machine World. But unlike being plugged into The Matrix, where one endures servitude in a dreamlike state and with the illusion of control, in The Sunken Place, Chris will be a trapped passenger, suffering in servitude to Hudson and observing life from afar.