If there ever was an unpretentious production that singed and seared its ways through to one’s consciousness and awareness of social dynamics in the United States, it has to be ‘Get Out’. The movie is a disturbing take on implicit racist undertones in societal interactions in certain parts of the States. Parts where even though people would have voted for Obama a third time if they could, they sometimes fall victim to what I would like to see as subtle liberal racism.
The movie begins on a cheerful note with a white woman and her black boyfriend visiting her parent’s. All seems to be hunky dory. Until some evidently out-of-place elements, be it the unnerving behaviour of black servants or the unhealthy fixation of some of the white folk regarding the ‘cool’ side to black people, come into sharp focus.
The film takes a massive lurch when the protagonist Chris is condemned, so to say, to the ‘sunken place’ using the girl’s mother’s skill in hypnosis. Things get worse for Chris at a feverish pace from here on, when he finds that his girlfriend, who claimed to never have had a black boyfriend before, has had a fair few (from photographs in a box in her bedroom closet). Upon being captured and held, the real storyline unravels wherein apparently a technique has been found to transplant the brain of a white person into the body of a black man/woman, to harness the longevity and physical capabilities of the latter!
So even as we get to know that the black lady in the kitchen is the girl’s grandmother and the behemoth-of-a-man in the house premises is her grandfather (the one to devise this idea), we are hurtling down the path that is sinking still lower into a swamp of lies, deception and death for Chris. Except that he has the gumption and quick thinking to make it out, after killing the entire family except the girl who later succumbs to some injuries.
What a movie! Resonances to Hitchcock anyone? Particularly, Psycho? Maybe the Stepford Wives, with their plot on gender discrimination using the message of ‘robot’ic wives. I found the story to be such a powerful one after seeing the climax. Is it not true that the masses of the States are being driven and ‘educated’ in the majoritarian white discourse and way of living in many parts of central USA today? Is it not true that, besides the rednecks and loons of Alt-Right, there are some ‘decent people’ who subtly and ever-so-ignorantly talk of the rise of the black man in a manner that entails objectification and even fetishisation? Is the Trump administration any better in selectively banning some people even as he speaks about espousing tolerance, liberty and enterprise?
The manicured lawns and meticulously planned settlements in central USA clearly seem to be hiding a darker layer beneath the smiling faces and accepting nods to black men. A layer of consciousness that is not allowed to emerge in expressions. A layer of consciousness that goes against the American white man’s idea of liberalism and yet remains in places.
A very powerful movie, I must say. Definitely not all that proud to sing Springsteen’s ‘Born in the USA’ now!