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21st Century Racism in a Nutshell: “Get Out” Themes Explained

By: Skyler Stanford

Written and Directed by Jordan Peele, Get Out exceeded the expectations of critics and audiences across America. This fast-paced thriller provides a “touchstone” for discussions on race relations in our country. The hidden messages in this movie may be hard to swallow at first but forces viewers to reflect on the prejudices that resides in all of us.
One scene in particular best displays a social setting where differences in skin color are emphasized: “the party scene”. In this scene, the main character, Chris, is introduced to the family friends of his girlfriend Rose. Her family engaged Chris, who is black, in conversations that were specifically geared towards a topic that the white guest believed would be relevant to a black person.
The hosts showered Chris in comments such as “I would have voted for Obama for a third term” in an attempt to really say, “I’m not racist.” This is something that most black people who have been in a predominantly white environment have experienced. Often when overexpressions of tolerance occur, the intentions are to extend an olive branch or a point of connection to the minority.
The reality of this situation is that, in the words of Jordan Peele, “Any time we see color first or categorize people as a race, we already lost an important part about what a human should mean..any rational person knows we are all one animal.” In short, we should resist the urge to approach people differently because of their race and play up the fact that race isn’t an issue. Trying to make oneself seem less racist usually is counterproductive and make the minority in the given situation feel uncomfortable.
During these awkward conversations, between white guests and the main character, Chris, the things they said hinted at the twist in the movie. Some said, “Black is back in style” or spoke to his body type, suggesting he would be a good athlete. One guest even asked his girlfriend Rose in front of him if he was better in bed because of the rumored sexual advantage of African American men.
In an interview with ScreenJunkies News, Jordan Peele said “The movie talks about the exotification and the love of black bodies and culture, is just as twisted a form of racism as the more violent forms…It’s all a piece of the same thing.” Given the plot, it was clear that these characters were malicious, but these comments can be overlooked in real life. When we see someone and assume things about then before they open their mouth, we can identify our prejudice. It is these moments that are important. Even if, as in this case, the speculations are considered positive, this is still a destructive way to see people. Looking at black people as strong and athletically built also digs up remnants of slavery ideologies where they were only used as animals to work.
Again, racism doesn’t have to be violent. We’ve been programed to think that racism is an old white guy yelling “I hate black people” or “go back to Africa.” We wrongfully identify racism as making a joke about chicken or watermelon in relation to a black person. We shame each other for things like cultural appropriation or for who we support in politics but we all forget to examine the racism that live inside of us. No one is prejudice free, we as humans are hardwired to notice differences in each other because of the way we were raised, the entertainment we engage in, and the media. Racism isn’t about hate, racism is the failure to acknowledge and correct the prejudice that lies deep in our social and primal instincts.
Jordan Peele’s feature directorial debut Get Out, covered a lot of ground on some difficult truths about race-relations. The take-away from a movie this blunt is to think more critically about how we interact with people. Together we must to rage against the harmful ideologies we have in our heads in order to advance as a society and as humans.

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