ANDERSON: ‘Get Out’ urges black-on-black rescuing
Opinions Column: A 'Popped' Culture
“Get Out,” the new comedic thriller written and directed by Jordan Peele, has been packing movie theaters since its debut on Feb. 24. The film amplifies the small, non-comedic but truly horrifying moments black people experience on a daily basis through micro-aggressions and navigating black spaces. There have been plenty of articles touching upon the many subtle nuances of the movie. Many talk about its nods to slave-trading in America, others speak about what the film means in terms of cultural appropriation by white people and others talk about the non-inclusive nature of white feminism. All of these articles are brilliant, but I saw few articles that spoke about what the movie offers in terms of its lesson about black interpersonal relationships. While the movie is clearly a “black film,” it does not have many black people, thus making it hard to not focus on the white horrific actions throughout the film. Yet we are given great lessons about the importance of black resistance through black-on-black rescue, even when it seems that staying and trying to help other black people is detrimental to our own lives. It is easy to selfishly say that black lives matter in the sense that we want white people to recognize our humanity, but “Get Out” encourages us to remember that, before white people understand this, other black lives must unequivocally matter in the hearts of black people themselves. The movie tells us time and time again to save each other.
In the movie, black people are hypnotized, their bodies remain functional, but their consciousness is stolen from them and are forced to remain elsewhere. This elsewhere is called the “sunken place” in the movie. We do see brief moments of the black inner consciousness trying to regain control of their bodies. The first time we see it is when Georgina, the hypnotized, black house maid pours out ice tea for Chris, the black lead. It is important to note the first thing that every black hypnotized person does when they “regain consciousness.” They try to save another black life. Georgina is trying to save Chris when her inner consciousness forces her body to flinch as she pours the tea. Her character is immediately dismissed by a white authority figure soon after when she is told to go “rest.” Don’t rest Georgina, stay woke.
When Andrew, the hypnotized black man at the function, regains consciousness and control of his body, his first instinct is to put his own life in danger while trying to save Chris’s life. Given his actions are much more direct, he is physically removed by white authority figures immediately after.
The theme of black-on-black rescue becomes even more pressing when the movie takes a turn for the worse.
The most important rescue scene is when Chris brings Georgina into the car when he sees her lying on the ground. He knows that his own life will be in danger if he goes back for her, but the black loves prevail and he drags her into the car anyway. He knew that she was far from regaining consciousness and did not have the means to save herself yet. Outside of the metaphor of the movie, Georgina could represent black people without academic, political, social or economic access. Chris, the self-aware black individual, did not see her as his enemy — he saw her for what she truly was: a victim.
The first thing Walter, the other hypnotized black man, does when he regains consciousness, is save Chris’s life by shooting his attacker.
The ultimate savior of the movie is Chris’s close friend, Rod. Rod spends the entire movie trying to save Chris. He warns Chris before he embarks down a dangerous path by educating Chris and keeping him under his wing even though Chris remains optimistic about his situation. Rod tries to rally other black lives to help him save his friend, and when they fail him he takes initiative and removes Chris from the unhealthy environment himself.
The black community must embrace the idea of unselfish saving. For too many years, black people, once we have “saved ourselves” either economically or academically, become complacent. We leave the hood, we do not look back and we condescendingly look down on other black lives. Black people buy into individualist capitalist white-supremacist mindsets when they choose to forget the black community once the “American Dream” has worked in their favors.
J.Cole, ironically on a song called “Role Models” sings “Don’t save her, she don’t wanna be saved.” While the saving he speaks of is governed by patriarchal sexist mindsets, under the context of “Get Out,” black people should not heed J.Cole’s words and instead always be in the business of saving each other. By saving I do not mean bringing other black people up to empty white-European standards of success. Saving here means caring enough to teach, empathize, motivate and love each other. It is also important to note that no black person in “Get Out” is able to save another black life, until they regain consciousness, take control of their body and become empowered enough to save themselves first.
Michael Anderson is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in journalism and media studies with minors in Africana studies and digital communication, information and media. His column, “A ‘Popped’ Culture,” runs on alternate Mondays.
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