Some of the antics in the first couple seasons of Key and Peele made me laugh till I almost peed myself; I would like to fancy myself a very seeeeeerious goth girl, but (not that) deep down I have a soft spot for the kind of humor where people get really mad about selfies and fall on the floor. So I was psyched to find out that Jordan Peele was making a horror movie, Get Out, in which a black guy goes to meet his white girlfriend’s parents and they bodysnatch him.
Sounded like an interesting premise. But then I heard some alt-right people or whatever who thought it was a totally racist movie against white people, and I shouldn’t go see it. Which I thought was really strange, because isn’t Peele’s mom white? He seems too mentally well-balanced and successful to be the kind of guy who hates his mom: I mean, he is famous and he hasn’t been to rehab yet, ya dig, so how can he have have mommy issues that bad? How curious. So I did like you have to do in all cases of media/social media brouhaha:
I coughed up and went to see Get Out with the eyeholes in my own head.
And then I laughed at everyone, because yeah, it is pretty mean to some white people. But not me, so I don’t give two shits. Cause they’re the kind of “folks” who don’t give two shits about me, either. They care even less about me than they care about the black people they condescend to. It’s mean to the kind of asshole creepy rich white suburbanites who always get off the hook whenever Hollywood wants to talk about racism or any other social ill, because most of the people in the movies, face it, come from this sort of milieu.
The only reason anyone is noticing that this movie is making fun of white people is because it’s making fun of the white people whom it usually lets off the satirical hook. Hollywood is constantly making fun of poor white trash, usually southern, whether they’re talking about racism or not —and nobody says boo. But when you cast an evil—come to think of it, a Deliverance-type!—light on “nice” suburban upper-middle-class people from somewhere vaguely east, it sticks out like a sore thumb. Because 99 percent of the people who can afford to live out in LA long enough to make it in the entertainment biz are upper-middle class or better by birth, so why would they make fun of themselves? This probably includes Peele,I ‘m guessing, (come on, he went to the Calhoun School in NYC; at the very least he enjoys geographical privilege). So maybe he does have some mommy issues after all. In the movie, a rich white girl (Mommy?) brings her black boyfriend (Dad? Jesus, I wonder what that was like) home to meet her family, and the whole clan eventually conspires to body-snatch him and entrap what’s left of the tiniest corner of his mind in the most terrifying manner possible.
This is not what this kind of family does exclusively to black people. They will do this (metaphorically) to anyone they find “unique” but genteel and acceptable enough to take on as a trophy weirdo. I’m pale even before I put the goth makeup on, but I felt like I had been in that guy’s shoes before, with the same kind of creeps. My ex’s rich suburban family were seeewwwww open-minded and loved to travel and owned a house that must be worth five million dollars now and wonderful wonderful wonderful (I have to admit, it was kind of nice for a couple of years to be able to assume someone with money would take care of us if something terrible happened; they even paid to fix my teeth) and oh, how fuckin’ body-snatched things wound up with them.
I simultaneously laughed and shuddered during the beginning of Get Out when the suburbanites are showing the black guy around their home and they start showing off all the travel trophies they’ve gotten from all of the “colored people places” and “slightly poor European places” to which they’ve taken their annoying tourist asses around the globe. You know, native masks and all that crap. Because I flashed back to my ex-in-laws’ travel trophies and the way they proudly showed me all of their creepy vacation junk before they all turned out to be totally insane.
How insane? Well, after my boyfriend suddenly dumped me and told me I had to leave the house so the new girlfriend who came out of nowhere could move in, his parents told me I could stay in their giant suburban home. Which sounded OK till I woke up and the dad was trying to get in bed with me. What was even weirder was that instead of getting upset, the mom waited till he left a coffee stain on the cupboard the next morning and had a screaming fit then—and yet she still tried to get me to stay with them long after I wanted to find my own apartment, because they needed someone weird to creep on. They tried to find me an apartment up the street from them in their creepy suburb. They tried to improve my manners and make me eat more and quit drinking. They introduced me to all their creepy friends. The horrible sinking feeling in the film as the family get their hooks into their pet black guy is quite the same. I don’t know, maybe I’m actually meant to feel insulted as a white person instead of feeling fellow feeling as a pet, but I don’t think Peele really hates his mother that viciously.
He would be on drugs if he did. Believe me. I’ve been on drugs.
The aesthetics of the film are a whole little creepy created universe in and of themselves; the tl;dr version: visually the film kicks ass in an almost artsy way, while also recalling 70s horror films’ aesthetic, with some odd, pretty, and deliberate interplay between large parts of the screen going slightly out of focus at times when one would expect the character’s comprehension of the scene to be falling out of focus in parallel. You wish you could have been a fly on the wall when his dad met his mom’s parents—and you get the feeling Peele wishes he could see that, too. I think Peele is more familiar with this social class’s creepy world from the inside than from the outside; being half black gave him reason to feel alienated. Probably nowhere near how alienated I would feel, but hey, I don’t have access to the levers of show-business power, so I’m glad somebody spoke up in a way that I can’t.
Public service announcement time! I’m setting up a Patreon soon, and it would be great if you guys could help me work on my books full-time, hint hint. I have the guts to work and write full-time, like all gutsy people do, but there are only so many hours in the day and so many years in my life. (And come to think of it, I don’t remember what free time is.) If you like my blogging or my fiction, please consider giving me a helping hand in spending more time on my real work. As it is, I get home from work every day to… work. Imagine if I spent all of those fourteen hours on fiction. I could enterTAIN you like a MOTHERfucker.