The subtle ways 'Get Out' comments on racism

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Image: COURTESY OF UNIVERSAL PICTURES AUSTRALIA

2017%2f04%2f13%2f8e%2fhttps3a2f2fblueprintapiproduction.s3.amazonaws.com2.491e9By Get Out Australia2017-04-21 16:50:45 UTC

It’s no secret that Jordan Peele’s massive psychological thriller hit, “Get Out,” is one giant commentary on race, but there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. The film not only speaks about the injustice in systemic racism and white privilege, but also does so in a tactfully subtle ways. 

There are many blink-and-you'll-miss-them cultural clues in the movie that show you the depth of the story and the length the filmmaker went to get his message across the masses. So, in case you did blink and miss them, here are the ways “Get Out” subtly comments on racism. 

Warning: Massive spoilers ahead. 

The opening scene 

The first scene shows a young black man, Dre (Lakeith Stanfield), walking alone in a neighbourhood absolutely convinced he’s being followed. His anxiety of being in danger in a predominantly white neighbourhood is used as commentary to flip the script and embody the feelings of paranoia and fear that has been injected into the white community in response to black people. 

Whether you blame it on systemic racism or the way the media has historically covered people of colour, the unfortunate stereotype of white people fearing black people gets a makeover in “Get Out,” which shines a light on the problem at hand and makes those unaware this problem exists a bit more evident. 

The use of the word “buck”

You wouldn’t have known it from watching the trailer alone, but deer play a pretty big part in delivering hard-hitting racial commentary in “Get Out.” While the tirade Rose’s father (Bradley Whitford) goes on a tirade about hating deer may seem harmless at first, all it takes is a little digging to realize the importance of what it stands for. 

Consider this: The word “buck” is what we call a male deer, but it’s a reference to a racial slur from post-Reconstruction America that referred to black men who were “seen as irredeemably violent, rude, and lecherous.” 

So, when Rose and Chris accidentally kill a deer and Chris is the only one affected, you can assume the dead “buck” is, both, subtle foreshadowing and commentary. Chris, on the other hand, using a deer’s horns to kill the antagonist is a little less subtle. 

Using slang and Barack Obama to relate

When Chris asks Rose if his skin colour is going to cause a rift in the family, Rose quickly assures him that he’s got nothing to worry about because her parents are super liberal. It’s when Chris meets Dean and Missy Armitage that Rose’s statement takes on a life of its own. Two particular incidents stick out: One is Dean’s insistence in bringing up his love for Obama and saying he would’ve voted him in for another term if he could. The other is the type of slang used to speak with Chris when Dean asks how long he and his daughter have been “doin’ this thaaaang” when trying to get to the bottom of their relationship. 

A Vox article by Alissa Wilkinson sums it up perfectly: “These clueless white people are trying to be cool in front of Chris, whom they just sort of think must be cool because he’s black.” 

This “trying to be cool for the black guy” thing the Armitage family does — through slang and the attempt to connect random black people — comments on the dehumanizing ways white people can act when attempting to find common ground. 

That weird cereal scene

Recently, Jordan Peele talked to the L.A. Times about the bizarre scene in “Get Out” in which Rose sits on her bed eating dry Fruit Loops and sipping milk through a straw. 

“Milk, it has been argued of late, is the new symbol of white supremacy in America, owing to its hue and the notion that lactose intolerance in certain ethnicities means that milk-absorbing Caucasian genetics are superior,” write Jen Yamato. 

If you don’t buy the whole milk theory, there’s the far more glaring commentary on the way Rose separates the white milk from the coloured cereal. 

Looking at Chris as an object

OK, serious spoilers below — so if you haven’t seen the movie yet and get all bent out of shape from knowing the ending, go elsewhere. 

In the end, we find out that the Armitage family are essentially body snatchers who lure black men into their house to steal their bodies. The grandfather devised the plan after losing the Olympics to Jesse Owens. 

The man who’s chosen to take over Chris’s body is a blind art dealer who repeatedly tells Chris — a talented photographer — that he’s specifically interested in his eyes. This relates all the way back to the slave trade in which a black man’s physical attributes were valued for the sole purpose of forced labour. 

With the art dealer valuing Chris’s physical attributes, “Get Out” brings up a horrific part of America’s past in which black men, women, and children were sold as objects. In this movie, black people are still being “bought” and “used,” except this way is a bit more literal as it involves putting your mind in the body of another. 

Get Out hits theatres nationwide on 4 May. 

Topics: Entertainment, Movies

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