Racist Black Comedy:
“If I could have voted Obama in for a third term, I would have. Best President this country ever had.” Well, that’s one way to put your affluent white daughter’s black boyfriend at ease: patronise the hell out of him.
Then again, since it’s the second time we’ve heard this and Get Out has only been running for twenty minutes, then maybe it’s a sincere statement. Perhaps Daddy did think that a phony-charming snake oil salesman who dropped more bombs than Bush ever did and who spent much of his term hanging out with his celebrity pals really was the best.
And maybe he voted for BO because he wanted to show he wasn’t a racist and since Barack was black, then…but isn’t it racist to vote for someone just because they’re black and not white?
You can’t see my face, of course; so you don’t really know whether or not I’m being deadly serious, ironic or just yanking your chain. For all you know, I’m an African-American myself (although I’ll admit that with a name like Brady it’s not too likely); but you can tell a lot about what a person is really saying, just by looking at his face.
In the scene where Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) meets the parents of his girlfriend Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) for the first time, the camera keeps us at a distance; and from the dialogue it seems that all is going well. But who knows?
We can’t see the faces of the parents. It’s unnerving; and it puts us at a disadvantage.
And then the camera pulls back ever so slightly and we see the back of the black groundsman…but we can’t quite see his face, either.
It’s an eerie and telling moment, like several in writer-director Jordan Peele’s debut film; but I wish that he had stuck with that early tone because – and putting me in what seems to be a very tiny minority – I ended up really hating this damned film. Just hating it.
Remember that chillingly effective scene at the beginning of David Fincher’s masterful Zodiac? That moment where you realise that you will never ever be able to hear Donovan’s song ‘Hurdy Gurdy Man’ in the same way again?
Well, there is a similarly disturbing scene in the tense prologue to Get Out – and this time you can cross ‘Run Rabbit, Run’ off your list of Cheerful Ditty Requests.
Meet the Armitage Clan!
Dean and Missy Armitage (Bradley Whitford; Christine Keener) live on what amounts to a decent-sized estate and seem to be extremely welcoming to Chris, although Rose doesn’t see it that way (“He never says: ‘My man!’”) ; but then Rose seems to be one of those annoying student-types who sees racism everywhere. In fact, on the trip over she has acted like a completely spoiled brat, having a go at a cop who politely asked Chris to show him some I.D. In fact, she looked as if she was going to start screaming POLICE BRUTALITY and start hashtagging BlackLivesMatter at the poor bewildered-looking guy.
She should have saved her ire for Chris’s best friend, an unbelievable – and I do mean UNBELIEVABLE – creation who goes by the name of Rod Williams, a TSA officer with wild stories of white folks keeping black folks as sex slaves. He also makes a really crude comment about Rose, who accepts it uncomplainingly and even with a smile.
After all, Rod is black, so he can’t possibly be a racist.
This is early on in the movie and already I’m getting uncomfortable because I can’t equate Chris, the quiet, intelligent and talented photographer with the same guy who would have this loud, ignorant clown as his best pal.
Chris and Rose’s weekend with the Armitage family turns out be the anniversary of a general get-together that includes the whole weird clan. And here every cliché Peele can think of is purposefully trotted out – from the woman who feels up Chris’s muscles as if he was auditioning for a stage version of Mandingo to the guy who tells him enviously that black is now in fashion.
Meanwhile, Chris has been introduced to the maid (black) and the aforementioned groundskeeper (black) and even I was beginning to feel some Privileged White Guilt on behalf of the Armitages! So I guess that director Peele was pushing the right buttons – but does that make me the racist or him? Or – and here’s a thought – neither of us? Is it just good filmmaking which, after all, is going to manipulate you in one direction or another in any case?
Get Out is a reasonably interesting film that begins to go off the rails half-way in when the Stepford Wives references get just a bit too much; and by the time we’ve reached the last twenty minutes the movie is as out of control as a REALLY out-there episode of Dr. Who.
Just why this is being hailed as a Modern Classic and A Very Important Film is utterly beyond me. It’s neither. It’s a hybrid that starts out as a neat little horror movie before getting ideas that it’s a social commentary. Then it backs itself into a corner that is completely over-the-top ridiculous, even in a satire as annoyingly preachy and consciously self- worthy as this one.
And I’m not even sure what it’s a satire OF. Is it just saying that liberal racism is even worse than the redneck variety because it’s unaware of itself? If that’s it, I have to confess to being a bit sick and tired of this ‘racism’ crap being pulled non-stop. Hell, after the OscarsSoWhite bullshit of 2016 any black nominee who got an award this year can NEVER be sure it was because of talent. Where the hell is the sense in that?
Jeez, I even wondered if I had ulterior motives in using the *gasp* ‘black comedy’ headline.
Peele obviously knows how to make a film — there is a genuinely creepy scene where we think that we are watching a group of harmless old white people playing bingo…until the penny drops – but to my mind he has tried to fit too much in, squashing up straight horror with satire and of course comedy. And please could we be a bit more sparing with the frigging jump shocks? They’re fine in their place but…when someone walks past in the background. Come on.
I’ve a feeling that critics have approached this with kid gloves because they’re afraid of that famous Race Card being pulled out. And they’ve got a point. When you get right down to it Get Out really is a racist film.
It’s racist against white people. That kind of complicates things, doesn’t it?