Theaters across the nation were packed with moviegoers last week and not to catch “La La Land” or “Hidden Figures” after Oscar Sunday.
Instead, it was the controversial thriller “Get Out” that became an instant box office favorite making more than $33 million in its first week. Plus, the movie scored a rare 99 percent on Rotten Tomatoes – a critical rating system that has extended 99 percent to “The Wizard of Oz.”
Produced, written and directed by comedian and actor Jordan Peele – best known for his hit comedy sketch series “Key & Peele” alongside Keegan-Michalel Key – the horror flick is gaining major buzz for its exaggerated depiction of race relations in America.
The story follows interracial couple Chris and Rose who visit Rose’s white family at their estate in the Poconos for the weekend. However, things quickly take a turn when Chris realizes the family’s ulterior scheme: capturing black people and auctioning off their bodies to their white friends to be used as a host for the brain of the highest bidder.
While the film is filed under the genre of horror, there is an alarming sci-fi edge showcasing the future capabilities of technology and eugenic science that could potentially manifest a new era of slavery 2.0.
In the movie, the rationale for this procedure was that elderly whites sought to gain some of the genetic advantages African American’s are often stereotyped into having – being more athletic, having more rhythm, ageless skin etc. – but serious undertones of white supremacist ideals run rampant throughout the film.
Critics argue that the film demonstrates “liberal racism” as this wealthy, white, ‘Obama-loving’ family feels empowered enough to kidnap, brainwash and deliberately remove the minds of blacks to serve a need among the white community.
Inspired by the increase in violence against African Americans – evident in the slayings of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and many more–and the racial tensions surrounding the Trump-Clinton presidential race, Peele saw an opportunity to make a statement. Much like “The Stepford Wives” and “Rosemary’s Baby” had previously addressed gender and politics, the filmmaker sought to do the same with a movie discussing America’s deep-seated racial divide.
“In the beginning, we're in the Obama presidency and race was not supposed to be discussed,” Peele said in an interview with Business Insider. “It was almost like, if you talk about race, it will appear and we're past that now. So the movie was about calling it as I was seeing it, in that regard.”
He continued, “With the emergence of Black Lives Matter and the discussion becoming focused on the police violence, when the country got more woke, this movie's purpose transformed into something that was meant to provide a hero and release from all the real horrors of the world.”
Mark Hinson, a Senior Writer at The Tallahassee Democrat who pens the weekly “@ The Movies With Mark Hinson” column for the paper, found the movie to be a refreshing way of tackling issues of slavery and prejudice through film.
“Most recent films dealing with slavery – “12 Years A Slave” and “Birth of a Nation” jump to mind – feel as if they need to club the audience over the head with America’s horrific racial history,” Hinson said. ‘“Get Out” takes a much more clever attack by illustrating how de-humanizing slavery really is/was and how some white folks would probably love to see it re-instituted. Now, that is a scary movie.”
Reactions to the movie displayed an array of mixed opinions, including an extremist point of view calling the movie ‘anti white.’
On Rotten Tomatoes, Scott S said, “If the races in this film were reversed, this film would be reviled as racist and supremacist. But, as it stands it is extolled and lauded.”
Kris M wrote, “Racist anti-white garbage. Hypocritical Hollywood would never make a movie about how dangerous it is for a white person to live in a black neighborhood.”
As a product of an interracial marriage, Bernice Ford, a sophomore Pharmacy student at FAMU, found the content of the film to air more on the side of entertaining and informative rather than slanderous.
“Growing up with a black mother and white father, I can relate to some of the sentiments of those making both negative and positive comments about the movie,” Ford said. “But to say that ‘Get Out’ is anti-white is a stretch.”
Ford continued, “Especially today, I think it is really important to make movies like this that make us reassess what society values.”