My first thought when I saw the get out trailer a few months ago was that white people were going to lose their minds over this. Turns out I was right.
Jordan Peele’s film, Get Out has everyone talking and a lot of white people are upset. I went with my sister and niece to our local AMC theaters and viewed the movie with a pretty mixed audience. While there weren't any walkouts, you could tell a select few white couples were very uncomfortable. I get it. I assume becoming aware of America's dark racial past and present must make a white person waking up from ignorance pretty uncomfortable, but that's why some white folks are mad. Get Out is an accurate metaphor for the black experience in America. White folks are mad that this rare horror narrative forces them to look in the mirror. For once, a story of a black person's trauma isn’t sugar coated with a devoted white ally.
Get Out makes a horror story around issues we see every day, using the microaggressions black people face and the desire to hijack a culture regardless of who it hurts. In the cocktail scene, it hits home for black folks because we've all been there. To be black in an almost entirely white space will more often than not lead to such microaggressions that Chris faced throughout the film. From whispered inquiries about package size to athletic giftedness and white tears about how blackness is now “in." Chris sits through it all. I for one don't know how many times I've been to a predominantly white event met with questions about touching my hair, mentions of other black friends, or assuming I've listened to the latest Future album.
Another major point in the movie that had white people up in arms was a modern day twist on a slave auction by having white folks bid on Chris for the "transplant" in hopes of having more adventurous sex, a better golf swing, and an artistic eye, which proved to illustrate the epitome of the appropriation of black culture today.
White folks are pissed because Get Out called out cultural appropriation in a major way. The white suburban community's need to poach fragments of black culture with the blatant disregard to black people is at almost every turn of the film, and proves to be an accurate portrayal of our society. The appropriation of black culture is nothing new. For decades we've watched white people adopt facets of black culture with little to no regard for those they take from.
The concept of "the transplant" illustrates this pain through an unforgiving lens. It brings the ruthlessness some white folks have to stick their hands (or in this case brains) into black culture. The hypnotic, "sunken in" state illustrates the paralyzing internal struggle black folks face in this climate.
We endure white people gushing about black "coolness," while watching them sport "boxer braids" and du-rags. Our attempts to speak up are met with "it's just hair." "imitation is the greatest form of flattery," and "why do you have to make everything about race." It forces us in many ways to remain in a paralyzed state, sucked dry of our cultural artifacts and forced to just watch and smile. To be a shell of ourselves in order to spare white feelings.
Get Out transforms these common experiences and feelings into a horror tale that's just too hard to ignore. White people are upset because these feelings are real. White people are upset because for once the narrative of black people overcoming adversity is met without one "good" white person to help save the day, because basement brain surgeries aside, these situations are something we’ve all participated in or witnessed.
Am I implying every white person is a monstrous culture vulture? Of course not, but the intensity of this movie was needed to serve as a working metaphor for an all too common experience. I am saying if you’re white and this movie upsets you that much you might just need to take a look in the mirror and think about why.