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Get Out (2017): Black Horror and White Liberal Villains

Get Out is a film that effectively blends horror, comedy, and social commentary into a genuinely brilliant horror film. Gabe discusses the way Peele showcases Black history and trauma without being traumatic. Kat unpacks the harm of white liberals and performative activism.

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Get Out (2017)

A young African-American visits his white girlfriend's parents for the weekend, where his simmering uneasiness about their reception of him eventually reaches a boiling point.

Director: Jordan Peele


Get Out: Highlighting Black History & Trauma, Without Being Traumatic

by gabe castro

RED: Quotes, someone else's words.


Get Out is a film that effectively blends horror, comedy, and social commentary into a genuinely brilliant horror film. Following Chris, a young Black photographer who is going to meet his white girlfriend’s parents for the first time. Inspired by Guess Who’s ming to Dinner, a film in which a Black man meets the parents of his white girlfriend. The couple are wealthy liberals and throughout the film must address the latent racism their relationship brings to light when interacting with her parents who vehemently oppose the relationship. In a skillful blend of dramedy and absurd, Peele takes this plot and adds a second storyline reminiscent of Stepford Wives and Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Chris’ girlfriend, Rose, seems unaware of the stress Chris is experiencing at this impending meeting, not entirely understanding his caution. On the other end of the spectrum is Chris’ best friend Rob, a comical TSA agent who is immediately against the meeting altogether. He warns Chris that Rose’s family and people like them, i.e. rich white people, “be making people into weird sex slaves and shit.” 

The film unfolds with a fluid blend of comedy and discomfort. Though Rose’s family aren’t loud racists, their prejudices and innate racism speaks volumes. When Rose’s father Dean tries to paint himself an ally, a white liberal and asks “How long this whole ‘thang’ has been going on?,” Chris smiles it away. Later during an annual party featuring a plethora of uppity, rich, white people what unfolds is a tense, uncomfortable, and at times truly terrifying series of events. Starting slowly with odd comments on Chris’ body, his history, and his Blackness. Chris flexes those fine-tuned code switching muscles. With every outrageous question, touch, or assumption, to every microaggression, Chris meets it with a smile and a laugh.

As absurd as the interactions are and as infuriating as Chris’ reluctance to do anything about it, Peele’s horror seeps into every interaction leaving our hair on end. Though we don’t know what, we know something is up. Eventually, the canary-in-the-coal-mine, Rob, finally gets through to Chris. After Chris ran into another Black man at the party who was acting quite peculiar, he attempts to get a photo of him, the flash causes the man to have a frightening reaction where he urges Chris to get out. Rob quickly responds to the picture, the man has been missing for some time and his name is Andre, not Logan. Chris urges Rose to leave who complies before turning on him in one of the best film reveals ever. 

Turns out Rob was right and in a way, the Armitages are turning people into sex slaves. Through absurd science, they have discovered a way to transfer the consciousness of their people, the Order of the Coagula, into bodies they deem superior. Which just so happens to be Black bodies. Having held a silent auction earlier in the day, Chris has been promised to a member. He is sent to a subconscious hellscape, the Sunken Place, accessed via hypnotism by Rose’s mother Missy who is a psycho[therapist]. Chris avoids the Sunken Place and in a riveting third act, fights his way through white people (in white and Black bodies) to escape. In the final moments of the film, Chris kneels above Rose as she lays dying, shot in the gut by him. He is tired, mentally exhausted, and hopeless when a wash of red and blue lights pour over him. Audiences assume he’s done for, with the police here to take him away. Breathe a sigh of relief because it’s actually Rob here to save him! 

Now that you know what happens, let’s dive into the film and why I think it’s one of the best films made in the history of filmmaking. 

Stepford Wives is to Feminism what Get Out is to Racism:

As I mentioned earlier, Peele was greatly inspired by Stepford Wives (the original film and the book by Ira Levins). Both films feature a photographer, talented and independent who is betrayed by their partner. For Joanna in Stepford, this betrayal comes from her husband wanting to turn her into the perfect housewife and a robot sex slave. For Chris, Rose doesn’t even want his body, it’s for someone else. Rose, like the husbands in Stepford Wives and Rosemary’s Baby, is manipulative and seems like an ally until the end. “Rose’s true allegiance is to her class and the privilege she’s happy to enjoy.” (Thanks to Get Out Explained: Symbols, Satire & Social Horror | The Take, for highlighting some of these similarities.) The Take also remarks on the sinister absurdity of the technology and plot (for both Peele and Levins). In the film, the horror is revealed as something absurd, outrageous and exaggerated to exert control over the protagonist (women in Stepford and Black people in Get Out). However in society, the control doesn't come from science-fiction surgery but instead, subtle control that holds power over others. 

While Stepford Wives speaks to feminist issues and absurd-ifies the threat of the patriarchy in Stepford, Connecticut, Peele uses Get Out to sound the alarm on the racism in our country as a whole. The treatment of Chris throughout the film isn’t new, it isn’t unexpected but the gross science experiment is an exaggerated representation of the harms of white, liberals in our country. 

Let’s talk about Showcasing Black History & Trauma, Without Being Traumatic:

Peele skillfully weaves Black horror, fears, and history into the film. With each watch, I notice new things in the set design, the music, the wardrobe, everything. Here are some things to consider that I am sure you’ve caught yourself or heard somewhere:

  • The Silent Auction - so in the middle of the film, the Order of the Coagula, which is this group of white people now putting their minds and consciousness   into Black bodies, holds a silent auction disguised as a silent game of Bingo. This is reminiscent of the slave auctions of America’s past as Chris’ body is literally being sold off by someone else who claims to own him. 

  • Cotton in the Chair (siren’s call) - to escape the operation, Chris stuffs his ears with cotton from the chair he’s tied too. The leather has been ripped open by Chris’ relentless scratching, a trauma response we see earlier in the film. This could be a reference to picking cotton, a common practice for enslaved people, only now the cotton is saving Chris’ life. This also made me think of Odysseus and his fight against the sirens in Greek Mythology.

  • Plantation house with Slaves - The Armitage’s home is a plantation style home equipped with their own Black servants. Though these servants are inhabited by the elder Armitages, the bodies they are using are Black. The Black bodies are commodities and part of the property. 

  • Codeswitching - Chris puts up with so much more than we think he should because most of this is normal, unfortunately. Chris is not naive or easily manipulated, he’s just used to silencing the alarms

  • When the white people arrive, they all arrive in black cars in a row. Like a funeral procession. They are also dressed like a funeral too.

  • The deer - first we see a deer hit which represents Chris, in danger and prey. We also learn later that Chris’ mom died after hitting a deer and the resulting accident. Dean Armitage remarks that all deer should be killed, they are taking over and should be put down, unsubtle commentary on how he feels about Black people. Chris encounters a deer in the Sunken Place made of bones serving as a warning. And lastly, Chris uses the stag head, originally used as a trophy (again representing Chris and the Armitage’s intentions), now a weapon. 

  • The tea cup - The teacup and spoon that Missy uses as a hypnosis tool has a dual meaning. It is often seen as a symbol of civility and politeness, but the tea industry was founded on violent colonialism in Southeast Asia. (Helpful study guide by - Get Out – MEDIA)

  • Separating her milk from her colored fruit loops, like a fucking freak - Segregation, duh.

  • Rose and Chris are often wearing red, white and blue. “All of the Armitages and their guests wear red, which is a symbol of their secret society. Red, of course, is associated with blood, and they don’t mind spilling lots of it to get what they want. Chris, however, wears no red whatsoever and this is one of the things that marks him as an outsider. The scene at the family gathering we see the motif of the colour red being a representative of the hidden society. Everyone at the party is wearing something red, while Chris is wearing blue. This represented his status as an outsider and the ‘us verses them’ mentality.” Get Out – MEDIA

  •  Sunken Place - Acts to push him down and silence him. Remove his autonomy and vision. It is also the audience! The Sunken Place is both a theater, surrounded in darkness and watched through a tiny screen separated from the content, and also represents the detached Black experience. Peele wants us to leave the Sunken Place, to wake up to the truth and to learn from Chris’ mistakes, no longer laughing off the subtle cruelties, aware of the real threats. 

  • Chris’ camera, photography and the commodification of his experiences. Chris is a photographer (reminiscent of the protagonist in Stepford Wives) who is very talented, his work is an expression of himself, his community. He uses his camera as a way to keep himself safe and detached from the subtle horrors around him. When he views the white people through the lens, their words become more preposterous and mean. His flash also frees two of the Black men from the sunken place. Get Out Fact Sheet

  • Redbone by Childish Gambino - the film starts with this song by rapper and actor, Childish Gambino (Donald Glover) which urges the listener to ‘stay woke’, a  phrase which became associated with the Black Lives Matter movement and indicates a consciousness of racial prejudice and discrimination in America. But it is also an urging for Chris to stay aware of the dangers around him as it also warns him that “they gon’ find you. Gon’ catch you sleepin’.”

  • Rob referencing Jeffrey Dahmer is not an accident. He says it in jest, but Jeffrey Dahmer is a serial killer who specifically sought out Black and brown boys for his own sick reasons. He was most harmful to Black communities and is known for eating and experimenting on his victims so this is an intentional choice of serial killers. 

Language is also super important in the film serving as both foreshadowing and confessions of a character’s true intentions. Such as Dean’s rant on the deer population but some other things I caught in my many rewatchesare :

  • Dean says something like, “It feels like there's a piece of grandmother in the kitchen.” while Georgina is right there. (Spoilers: she is grandma).

  • Rob also mentions “robot sex slaves” which is what Stepford Wives is.

  • The main title is called Sikiliza Kwa Wahenga. Which means “Listen to the elders” in Swahili. The translation to the words throughout are, “Brother, run! Listen to the elders! Listen to the truth! Run away! Save yourself!” 

  • The wrong language used by the Black people in the film who are actually white people is a great way to unsettle the viewers and keep them aware of something being off. [I think of Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been by Joyce Carol Oates where a young girl encounters a strange man who uses outdated language and is later revealed to be the devil.]

  • Dean references the black mold in the basement which will eventually be a mold for Black people. 

A Brief on the White Liberal Problem:

Kat is going to go into more detail on the villains of the film but I wanted to mention a few things. Firstly, Peele was strategic in choosing this family and the behaviors of them and their friends as the villains. Peele has spoken in interviews about working to address the post-racial lie we found ourselves living in during the Obama administration. He wanted to show that racism was still very much alive and well, and just as harmful, if not more, when wielded quietly by the white elite liberals. Just as Kat has explained often on our show, it is dangerous to ‘other’ or monsteracize people as it disconnects us from their actions and allows us to ignore responsibility. Anyone is capable of harm. So by not choosing to have these villains be right-wing nutjobs, neo-nazis or rednecks, he removed the ability to monsteracize them. I know I’ve met people like the Armitage’s before, have you? Peele said he wrote them as “the kind of people I’d meet at parties who were eager to tell me they voted for Obama,” but whose attitudes can be considered just as patronizing and as dehumanizing as those of more obvious racists. Get Out – MEDIA The Armitages and the Order of the Coagula would think they aren’t racist, they would imagine the world is post-racial. And the proof that shows they’re not racist? Well, they chose Black bodies, didn’t they? However, their appreciation for Black bodies is specifically through the lens of controlling and using the bodies, not seeing them as people. But they would think that appreciating, in any way, the Black bodies they couldn’t be racist. (Reminds me of my idea of how Olivia Wilde must’ve felt about casting Margaret in Don’t Worry Darling). 

Black Trauma vs. Black Horror:

Lastly, I wanted to discuss why I think Get Out is a brilliant social commentary film that effectively scares us without retraumatizing us. Earlier in this series, while talking about Culture Shock, we discussed the appreciation we had for the delicate care taken with the content of the film given the reality is so horrifying. Peele was also incredibly caring in his execution of the message. I’ve often mentioned in this show, to ask “Who is this for?” when watching a horror film (media literacy 101). A part of that question is first answering, “what is the intent of this film?” because knowing what the film wants to achieve can help us understand this. If the film’s intention is to educate an unknowledgeable audience and reveal the horrors a community is facing, then it most likely isn’t for me and others like me. It runs the risk of re-traumatizing us and most likely doesn’t add anything new to the dialogue. 

However, if the film is for us and by us, we can have a film that offers us catharsis. I watched a phenomenal video by creator Princess Weekes titled, Black Trauma vs. Black Horror where she essentially reads my mind. She addresses the problems with films like Antebellum and Them (two pieces of media Ghouls have very intentionally not covered). These films are sensational at best and unnecessary at worst, putting Black harm and history on display for shock value not catharsis and healing. She said something that really stuck with me, “Catharsis in horror is for the victim, not the perpetrator.” That feeling is for us and when a film is made with us in mind, it can be freeing, providing a release of tension and fear. But when in the wrong hands and with the wrong intentions, the film can result in further harm. She also has a full discussion about the location, the role of suburbs in horror and the history of subjugation like in the classic horror film, People Under the Stairs. As well as commentary on mental health in horror and more. Highly highly recommend a watch!

Originally, Peele had an ending in which Rob does not come to Chris’ rescue. Instead, it is a white cop who later locks him up. It is a depressing ending and one the audience was undoubtedly expecting. However, he later rewrote the ending, explaining that in the political and social state of the world, “People needed a release and a hero.”


Get Out: White Liberals & Performative Activism

by Kat Kushin

RED: Quotes, someone else's words.

White Liberals and Performative Activism

Jordan Peele's Get Out serves as a stark reminder of the insidious nature of ingrained racism, often more perilous than overt racism. It critiques the performative and disingenuous safety many white liberals present, to be perceived as “good” or at the very least to avoid the label of “racist”. That “well-intentioned” white people disrupt racial progress, upholding the systems that ultimately benefit them. It’s also a call out of the lack of self awareness many people who look like me have to the systemic and ingrained way racism has infested our minds through almost every facet of our upbringing and socialization in this country. That it is something systemic and ruthless, and looking at it, acknowledging it alone does not make it go away. That being aware is only the first, and bare minimum step, in unlearning and deprogramming that indoctrination. We’ve discussed on our show many times the roots of this indoctrination in various facets of society, from schools to media, healthcare, redlining in neighborhoods, and beyond. The roots of this country, the foundation it was built upon it. 

Get Out placed a spotlight on the dangers of northern suburbs for Black Americans, and the very real ways white liberals cause harm. And both groups reinforced that over the years that followed. This is harm that has been systematically erased, minimized or silenced whenever possible. Every episode and everyday I learn of another messed up thing this country has done or is doing in the name of racism, capitalism and white supremacy. My goal here is to shine a spotlight on voices who have been unpacking this further and some next steps that will be at the bottom of our show notes. A big impact that this film had was that it validated the experiences of those who already knew, and opened the eyes of many who didn’t. In a book titled Jordan Peele’s Get Out Political Horror By Dawn Keetley they say: 

“By setting his film in a northern state, Peele plays with the audience’s own prejudices about liberalism’s relation to race. The concept of “good” and “progressive” whiteness plays into the churning evil within the film and the distress viewers feel while watching. Iris Marion Young criticizes the type of colorblindness exhibited by the Armitages, noting, “Liberal sentiments sometimes prompt us to assert that grouping by race, sex, religion, ethnicity, region, and so on, ought to carry no more significance than grouping by hair color, height, or the make of car we drive. Such an invocation calls for groups to be considered as mere aggregates, a classification of persons according to some attribute they share.” Seeing race as anything other than a political structure is to decontextualize the oppression perpetuated by that structure. The result is a maintaining of the status quo with regard to social framework. Whiteness, in the hands of the Armitage family, becomes a tool as effective and as malicious as Dean’s scalpel and Missy’s tea cup.” The point being that violence comes in many forms. Trauma is enacted in many forms. Racism goes beyond overt instances; even silence, complacency, or well-intentioned actions can be equally damaging, perpetuating oppressive systems. This subtle harm is more insidious, catching people off guard without emotional preparation, akin to a sucker punch, making the impact even more significant.

To unpack this further, in an article on Black Feminist Collective titled 6 Ways I Have Faced Anti-Blackness By White Liberals in Organizing Spaces by Stephanie Younger, Stephanie speaks to their experience with white liberals and how they witnessed white liberals perpetuate harm. It’s a great read so I recommend reading her words directly, as well as checking out the Black Feminist Collective if you haven’t already. Their website is filled with so many informative articles, as well as resources. In the article Stephanie discusses their experience in the organizing space and the many ways white liberals disrupted that space, saying: “White liberals who claim to be anti-racist, while forcing Black women into the same spaces as their “overtly racist” counterparts, policing how we respond to oppression, and speaking over us to center their own voices, are part of the same problem. As long as they continue to do so, they will never see the significance in doing no matter what it takes to act upon their claims that they practice anti-racism.” 

She speaks to a very real issue that connects to a lot of what Jordan Peele is critiquing in Get Out. It is best represented in the character of Rose who the whole film performs the role of an ally in many ways. Who feigned shock and disgust when her family and family friends showed their asses, without holding any of them accountable. Up until the end of the film where we see how deeply they are committed to upholding white supremacy, and the depth of their betrayal of Chris, Rose is perceived as a “good white person” with room to grow. 

In an article titled The Scariest Part of ‘Get Out’ Was The Trueness To Life by Jordie Davies on the Black Youth Project, they say: “Certainly, however, none of these people would see themselves as racist—Rose’s father “would have voted for Obama for a third term!” Jordan Peele thus reveals the pernicious racism behind white liberals, who may celebrate the Black body, Black music, Black accomplishments, and yet still cannot see Black people as autonomous and human.”

While not every white woman is kidnapping Black people for the Coagula experiment, the harm done by white women historically, through words, inaction, centering, tears, or complacency, is pervasive. Performing the trappings of an ally without reconciling, unpacking, and dismantling one's own connections to the system and unconscious biases is as shallow as posting a black square on Instagram. Without doing this work, you will, as a guarantee, end up hurting the people you claim to want to help. The article goes on to highlight the way historically white women will prioritize white supremacy above feminism and racial equity. They say: “Despite our front line work in the fight for liberation of all oppressed people, Black women are blamed for the division in the world, over our valid critiques of white liberals and their participation in anti-Blackness and their loyalty to white supremacy.” This is backed up by the election of Trump and white women voting for him in large percentages. 

They continue on to say: “As long as white moderates aren’t affected, they are complacent with injustices that affect the most marginalized people. In 2016, 52% of white female voters threw the communities Trump targeted with his racism, misogyny etc., under the bus to preserve white supremacy. Despite the Clintons’ complicity in heavy policing of Black communities, 94% of Black women who voted in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election election chose Hillary Clinton. Despite the anti-Blackness within the feminist movement that continued after the 2016 election, many Black women still marched in January of 2017, and continue to advocate on the front lines of many fights for gender justice, while the white women who support Trump fought against it.” 

The reason for this is clear. Societal structures have historically prioritized race over gender, especially in the context of white supremacy. White women, despite gender challenges, often benefit from racial privileges tied to being white. Some white women, consciously or unconsciously, prioritize preserving white-centric systems over addressing gender-based issues. This perpetuates racial inequalities, lacking accountability and self-reflection. Instead of accountability, defensiveness or denial arises, leading to hypocrisy when policing Black Women’s responses to oppression rather than holding other white women accountable.

Stephanie Younger goes on to say: “White liberals often see more significance in silencing Black women’s legitimate critiques of those who have a vested interest in white supremacy, instead of speaking to the white women who supported Trump and holding them accountable for their decisions. Black women are not often afforded the same conveniences of being oblivious to the so-called “lesser evil” of our oppressors.” A part of being anti-racist for white people is to hold other white people accountable for their racism, and choices that result in direct harm to Black people. 

Additionally it is holding oneself accountable for the same thing. In Younger’s article they reference another titled When Feminism Is White Supremacy in Heels, by Rachel Elizabeth Cargle for Harper’s Bazaar. They say: “It is made painfully obvious that many white women believe that the worst thing that can happen to them is to be called a racist…Seeing your child gunned down in the street by the police unjustly is much worse, being turned away for medical care due to race and underlying biases by medical staff, resulting in death, is much worse, being harassed by authorities only to be charged yourself instead is much worse.”

Younger continues that: “To get defensive and center oneself embodies the white liberal who accuses Black women of “attacking” them when they are not part of a community who is accustomed to being under attack. When it comes to anti-Black racism, white liberals often view themselves as “exceptions,” but not beneficiaries, and complicit as long as they are not actively challenging themselves. Instead of listening while I was doing the emotional labor of challenging their intentions, white liberals often said, “I’m really sorry you feel that way,” white-splained, and policed how I should respond to the harm. Instead of stating how they will do better and follow through with those actions, they saw more importance in their comfort and feelings, more significance in their good intentions, but not the negative impact their actions have on Black lives.”

In our show notes I have cited many other articles outlining the ways in white liberalism and perceived “good white people” can perpetuate harm in organizing spaces. Recommend giving them a read if you would like additional information and voices.

The Hijacking/Theft of Black Bodies in Get Out and the Impact of White Supremacy on Consciousness

Another prevalent theme in Get Out is the Hijacking of Black Bodies, and the way whiteness and corporations try to commodify and steal Black movements, bodies and culture for economic gain and social power. When white supremacy intersects with capitalism the results are commodification. I have a handful of articles linked in our show notes that I recommend reading through if you want to unpack this further. 

Some quotes that really stood out to me in Jordan Peele’s Get out: Political Horror, by Dawn Keetley, begin in the introduction. “The anxieties of Get Out, in other words, are twofold, encompassing the appropriative desire of whites for the black body as well as the anxieties of African Americans that surviving and thriving in white society risks succumbing to white interests.” The interests of white people being, to commodify the black identity in place of overt slavery. This is seen in how white people as well as corporations steal black culture, hairstyles, holidays, and movements for social and economic power. Profiting socially and economically without addressing the harm, as well as theft taking place. This was most recently prevalent throughout 2020, in countless corporations, and dollars spend on DEI campaigns without actual changes to board diversity, or wealth distribution, #Black Lives Matter messages, the commodification of Juneteenth and the merchandising of both. 

Within the film we see the very literal manifestation of this theft, in the Armitages theft of Black bodies. In a later chapter of the Jordan Peele’s Get out: Political Horror, titled Scientific Racism and the Politics Of Looking by: Cayla McNally They speak to the exploration of scientific racism in the film, stating, “The Coagula serves as a modern iteration of scientific racism in that both have the same goal: the control of black bodies. I think there is value in laying bare the ways scientific racism by and large encompasses an attitude that feeds into the concept of race itself, as well as the way it pervades how race is represented in Get Out. Everyone—with one exception—in the Coagula is white, and all their documented victims are black. This points toward a pathology within the Coagula. They don’t need to verbalize their racist intent, because it speaks for itself. Similarly, the discourse surrounding modern scientific racism is about abilities, metrics, and environments, not about race. The lack of discussion of race, both in the film and in real life, allows plausible deniability when it comes to malicious racial intent. It is a conversation defined as much by what is not mentioned.” 

In many ways the American system acts as the Coagula, manipulating the narrative to achieve the same plausible deniability that occupied the early 2000’s facade of a post-racist world. That in the erasure and controlling of the narrative surrounding Black liberation, and Black history, these structures seek to gaslight our perceptions of reality. And thus limit our understanding of what is, what was, and what could be. Knowing that if we do not have the context of our own history, we will not be able to understand the insidious ways the system harms. The enforcers of this system, the same white institutions that create textbooks, ban books, and minimize/erase the historical context surrounding America’s history. All with the goal of skewing our collective understanding of the true depth of the harm taking place, in the hopes that we will not rise against it. 

The other point made in Dawn Keetley introduction is the cost to survive a white supremacist system, and the way that impacts consciousness and identity. The theft white society places on Black consciousness.  “As philosopher Lewis Gordon puts it, there “are some, after all, who can move through the white world so long as they offer themselves as black bodies with white consciousnesses.” This can manifest in code switching, and a mask that is expected of Black people who operate in white spaces to maintain. “Kareem Abdul-Jabbar claimed Get Out leverages the body-horror plot of Invasion of the Body Snatchers precisely to dramatize this persistence of slavery by other means. Unless the body “is free from others trying to control its actions and free from constant threat of injury or death, that body, that person, that people are still enslaved.” 

Keetley’s introduction moves on the views of W.E.B. Du Bois. “W. E. B. Du Bois famously called this fear “double consciousness,” which risks becoming outright co-option. This is manifested literally in Get Out where “The Armitages and their allies seek not only personal benefit, although that is significant, but they also want to ensure that inside every African American a “white man” is “pulling the strings.” Get Out, in short, is a parable of complete colonization.”

Additional  points from the book:

Staying Woke in Sunken Places, or the Wages of Double Consciousness by Mikal J. Gaines, ”In fact, the film’s greatest theoretical contribution may very well be how it further elaborates upon older conceptions of black ontology, epistemology, and survival. More specifically, Get Out’s urgent preoccupation with upholding a sense of responsive awareness in the face of white supremacy, that is, with the call to “stay woke,” bears an ideological affinity to W. E. B. Du Bois’s foundational the-ory of “double consciousness” in his The Souls of Black Folk (1903). Du Bois sought to articulate how being black in America brings about an internal cracking open of the self, a split that ironically renders it impossible to separate questions of subjectivity (one’s internal sense of being in relation to the rest the of world) from those of identity (externally imposed and systematically enforced categories of difference). Whether intentional or not, Peele’s film about a young black man who goes on a weekend trip with his white girlfriend to meet her family owes as much of a debt to the wellspring of Du Bois’s imagination as to the “social thrillers” such as Rosemary’s Baby (1968) or The Stepford Wives (1975) that Peele has name-checked as central influences on his work.2”

To unpack this further, recognizing one of the systems that perpetuate this subversion of identity is academia. In another article titled: Get Out: Structural Racism and Academic Terror by Renee Nicole Allen, they unpack the ways in which Academia and Law schools commodify and steal Black identity to uphold white systems/white benefit at the expense of Black harm. They say: “For people of color, law schools are a metaphorical Sunken Place. Though not literally screaming, legal scholars and law students have been telling stories of academic horror for decades.39 And since law schools have taken little action to address structural racism,40 we can conclude our screams have gone unheard. While our bodies aren’t being stolen, they are being used to promote diversity and further the appearance of anti-racism. The appropriation of antiracist rhetoric helps law schools capitalize on public personas of racial justice while doing little to address the power structures that protect faculty members who, under the guise of academic freedom, inflict harm on marginalized students, staff, and faculty. In 2020, in the wake of a national reckoning with race, law schools joined the plethora of institutions espousing commitments to anti-racism. But law schools cannot satisfy their commitments to anti-racism without dismantling the policies and traditions that implicitly and explicitly perpetuate racism. In the legal academy, real-life horrors are rooted in structural racism.  Anti-Black racism is present in every aspect of American life including the legal academy. Thus, even in academic spaces, “[t]o be [B]lack and conscious of anti[B]lack racism is to stare into the mirror of your own extinction.”

They continue their point by offering a critique of Get Out, as a reflection on the years following its release, and the overall impact. Stating: “Considering anti-racism, particularly anti-Black racism, years of public displays of Black harm has resulted in minimal progress in terms of structural reform, equity, and positive experiences for Black people. This is demonstrated by the fact that since the hashtag first appeared in 2013, people have continued to rally around the concept of Black people simply mattering out of necessity as Black people continue to experience death, violent harm, explicit and implicit racism. And in 2022, despite the adoption of #BlackLivesMatter as a rallying cry from people of all races, Black people in all spaces— including academia—are still expected to put trauma on display “to be of importance.” Of the most egregious examples of academic terror is the persistence of law professors who insist on using racial epithets to refer to Black people in total disregard to the harm Black students and Black faculty repeatedly express such terms cause. Do legal academics need multiple examples of academic terror to understand that it exists? No, and such enlightenment is not my goal or my responsibility.

If you found that section interesting, I recommend reading their entire paper on the topic. On our blog I’ll include additional reading materials for you if you want to explore these ideas further.

Additional Reading:


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