The Racial Symbolism and Genius of "Get Out"

Jordan Peele's directorial debut is one that has taken the country by storm. I am not, I repeat NOT, a horror movie person but this is not a horror film in any traditional sense. Get Out is more of a psychological thriller and the only truly scary part is that so many black folks in our country have lived these realities everyday. This is a movie you have to go into with an intellectual expectation, with your "third eye" open to really get the full experience, and it's one that I highly recommend.

Over the past few days I have read some incredible articles about Get Out. My favorites were this one by Buzzfeed about 22 secrets you may have missed, and this one from Esquire about why this is the best movie ever made about American slavery. I haven't found anything listing all the racial symbolism in this ridiculously well-made and deeply thought-out film, so while this list is not exhaustive (because I believe that literally every second was intentional in its depth and intelligence), these are the ideas that really stuck out to me.

(And before the white tears fall, keep in mind Jordan Peele is married to a white woman and was raised by a white mom, so in no way is this film an attack on whiteness. It is, however, an accurate representation of the exploitation and appropriation of black folks by white America for the entire history of our nation.)

  • The film opens in a white populated area with low hanging trees and a white guy steals a black man. Think plantation days, lynchings of Jim Crow.
  • The cop wanted his ID but Rose didn't want a paper trail. Rose looked like she had his back when really once again a white woman was exploiting the misfortune a black man for her benefit. 
  • When the crazy brother keeps referring to Chris' physical attributes, wanting to know if he was a good fighter and referred to him as a "beast."
  • Rose momentarily seemed to be awakened by her family's mistreatment of Chris, much like pieces of white America have suddenly seemed shocked the last few years by what's happened to Black Americans. 
  • Chris profusely apologizes for Rose feeling bad about her family, much like Black Americans have been made to cower and apologize for the discomfort of whites upon the realization of their own white people mistakes. 
  • Rose's dad rants about how large the deer population is and how he'd like to see them wiped out. “Black buck” was a racist slur in post-Reconstruction America for black men who refused to bow to white authority. He is later killed by the antlers of a deer.
  • The entire concept of a white woman hypnotizing and manipulating a black man. See: American history. 
  • When Chris confronts Walter outside while he's chopping wood and Walter tells him he likes to mind his own business and that he wants to do the work he's been given. Much like "higher level" slaves were made to feel "grateful".
  • The overt sexualization of the black man, especially when the white woman touched his arms and asked if sex with black men was really better, and continuing in various ways throughout the film including when the older woman made the younger black man her sex slave. This objectification of the black body is seen from the foundation of our country.
  • When the dad is giving the tour and brags what a privilege it is to experience other people’s cultures- a perfect example of white privilege taking advantage of cultural appropriation for their benefit.
  • The idea of hunting down black people as property, especially when Rose wore colonial hunting gear to go find Chris at the end. 
  • The fact that Chris had to pick cotton to stay alive. 
  • The fact that anytime a black person broke free or got ahead momentarily, the white person was there to bring them back down: when Chris went outside and was then hypnotized, when Chris got away from the house but was hunted down, when Logan broke out of his shell and told Chris to get out, etc.
  •  Rose separating her pure white milk from her colored cereal, but drinking the milk from a black straw. 
  • The overarching theme of using black bodies to get rich, get ahead, get what you want at any cost to them. The breaking of the black body for white use and power.
  • The silver spoon representing privilege and the tea cup being a way that white women used to summon house slaves. 
  • The sunken place representing the helpless and powerless feeling many Black Americans have experienced in a society controlled by whites where they are used for what they offer, but never allowed to embrace who they are. 
  • A camera exposing the brutality of a black body being taken. The flash representing when someone who has been oppressed finally "sees the light."
  • Georgina leaving the closet door opened, sacrificing her safety and fighting for the betterment of the black man. Then her single tear and forced smile, exemplifying her suppressed emotions as a black person- having to hide her pain and come off as strong and solid at all times. Both are common themes throughout all of American history.
  • The consistent talk and reference to black people being built biologically superior to whites in physical and athletic ability, but the white brain being better. When the dad brings up Jesse Owens beating the supposedly elite Aryan race in the Olympics, Rose picking through NBA stars to steal, the brother commenting on Chris' body being perfect for MMA, the ole white golf guy excitedly talking about Tiger Woods and asking to Chris' golf swing, etc. 
  • The blind man as white America being blind to the plight of black people, and not caring "what color" he was but being perfectly willing to steal his talent and his vision as long as it kept the white guy ahead. The fact that they stole black people with exceptional talents because when you take away a man's purpose you take away his dignity.
  • When a black person would snap out of the trance momentarily they were immediately told to rest because the opposite of asleep is *awake*- woke- and when they were briefly awake they were made to feel crazy and their behavior was diminished and disregarded. The "good", compliant blacks were praised by the white man and made to feel comfortable in white circles.
  • The one Asian man who has assimilated in with the whites. 
  • Andre/Logan being made to believe (and speak) that life is good as a black man in America- for him, and therefore everyone else.
  • Chris walking upstairs during the party and the entire party literally stopping. Because black folks have always been used for entertainment, and what would we do if they weren't around?
  • The stickers at the slave auction Bingo game being both red and blue, and Rose's parents being Obama-loving liberals. Because both Democrats and Republicans are responsible for the plight of the Black American from the beginning and still today. 
  • The crazy brother playing the banjo as Chris and Rose come back in the house before they try to kill him. Early forms of the instrument were fashioned by Africans in America, adapted from African instruments of similar design. 
  • The final scene of the movie with Rose in the woods. There was a massacre of black Americans in the early 1900s and the destruction of a city called Rosewood. 

And there were probably 100 more not listed here because every minute of this film was literal genius. I truly believe an entire college course could be taught on this material and there would still be topics left uncovered... It is just.so.good.

What were your favorite or most symbolic moments of Get Out?