Thoughts On: Get Out - What Could 'Get Out 2' Look Like?

28/01/2018

Get Out - What Could 'Get Out 2' Look Like?

Thoughts On: Get Out (2017)

A black man is going to meet his white girlfriend's parents, but something seems wrong.


I'm glad I just re-watched Get Out. I thought it was only mediocre the first time I saw it, but now I think it is certainly a few notches above average. However, I do think this is being oversold to some degree (less so now that I have seen it again for myself and not just heard people go on and on about it). In such, its racial/political satire is overtly present and well-constructed, but it nonetheless feels questionable and flat in some ways.

Jumping straight into things, Get Out finds many intricate ways to show prejudice manifest with a threat of ownership, of enslavement, behind it. This threat is itself a form of dehumanisation that sees an individual reduced to a collective identity; it is the kind of dehumanisation that saw millions murdered in Communist Russia and in Nazi Germany. It was the fact that the minority kulaks (peasant land owners) and Jews were perceived to have had too much money in Russia and Germany that justified their oppression, exile and genocidal decimation to the corrupt leaders and the infected subjects of the Communist and Nazi regimes. Breaking such a phenomena down to a more basic formula, we can see that when small groups are perceived to have too many privileges by spiteful masses and hateful leaders, something is inevitably going to go bad - very bad.

Such a paradigm is picked up on in Get Out. In essence, a selection of black people are seen to have certain privileges: they're cool, they have good genes, they have a perspective that money cannot buy. Though these black people are treated fairly, they are perceived to be below those with the money. As a result, they conclude that they have no right to their coolness, their genes and their 'eye', and that it shall be taken by force and put to better use. Such an idea can be seen to map onto slavery; those with money and resources do not have the means to harvest their cotton fields themselves, nor do they have the means to employ their equals to do this. The solution: slavery. From the weakness in the dominant comes the subjugation of their inferiors; power is shown to corrupt not by choice, but by necessity. After all, how long will a rich man stay rich without slaves keeping expenditures low? Such seems to be a strongly Marxist idea.

Drawing upon this line of thought from a racial angle as opposed to an entirely monetary one, we see Get Out project the enslavement of black people as a signifier of the necessary corruption in precariously privileged, limitedly endowed people. However, it is exactly this that leaves me somewhat torn when watching this film.

I don't believe Peele intentionally designs his black characters as kulaks or Jews and the white characters as Stalinists or Nazis, however, he is explicitly dealing with supremacy. With enslavement and murder being the extreme outcome of supremacy, it is difficult to not see him constructing a preemptive to a dystopian world reminiscent of Communist Russia or Nazi Germany. As a result, I can imagine a Get Out 2 featuring those who knew the Armitages selling their technology and surgery beyond their small circle of friends in the town, and to some government officials. The world that this government would then design would be one in which rich people could buy the attributes of 'donors' that they desire. This would see certain people making money by capturing and selling 'good stock'. Thus we have a slave trade constructed where poor people form gangs to capture other poor individuals that they don't like, or don't care about, to sell to the rich overseers:


These rich overseers sell the slaves again to those in need of 'help':


How would such a world come to be? It seems that there would have to be a culture of spite and hate around 'privileged' minorities...


... who, despite their inferiority, possess desirable attributes that they do not deserve...


With supremacy as it is presented by Get Out expanded upon in a bigger budget Get Out 2 (which, spoilers, would see the supremacists eventually overcome by the hero - or an elite squad of TSA agents), we would certainly see a smart, even powerful, commentary on the subject of racism constructed. However, how rational is this commentary?

This is where I think Get Out reveals itself to be limited. Get Out's narrative plays with supremacy and slavery to imply the real horrors that can emerge from racism (the last few centuries alone are rife with examples of this). However, with the open ending and with this implication merely laid bare, I'm left wondering if Peele intentionally suggests that a new, devastating form of slavery is likely to emerge from passive prejudice and a property-seeking kind of racism whereby those selling themselves as ''not-racist'' are merely admitting that their 'inferiors' have some positive attributes - which they don't really have to rights to. If this is the case, then I think this narrative is a bit too conspiratorial for me to take seriously.

The best way I can conceive of Get Out would concern seeing the racial politics subverted by the call for the recognition of individual humanity. Instead of Get Out being a premonition for slavery and genocide, this can then be seen as a document that echoes the iconic words of Martin Luther King Jr:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.

In making a call for individuality, Get Out can be seen to say that its black characters should not be judged as just black, and their character as a separate entity that they do not own the rights to, but that they should be judged by precisely this character - character which is them, which is their humanity, which transcends their endermic shell. Chris would then be a talented photographer, not a black man who, somehow, takes nice photos.

As much as I want to say that this is what Get Out encapsulates, I have to say that it only comes so far in saying this. In being a rather formulaic horror film, Get Out focuses on tragedy precursing destruction. There is then no redemption in this film as there is in something such as Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Whilst I don't think all endings have to be positive for a film to make a point, without redemption in an antagonist, and without a powerfully individuated protagonist, Get Out fails to use its ending effectively.

What would then interest me is a Get Out 2 that sees Rose not die of her wounds, and go after Chris. By the end of this film, and with Rose's intentions and character thoroughly analysed and questioned, we would see her redeem herself, or fail in doing so, as a mechanism through which we see Chris perceived as an individual and a real human. This narrative arc would echo the words of MLK, and thus would be saying something of substance rather than throwing out clever, but ultimately questionable and somewhat lifeless, premonitions.

These are just my thoughts on Get Out, however. I'll then end by asking you what your thoughts on everything we've covered today are. What's more, what do you think Get Out 2, which Peele has expressed some interest in making, could look like, and what maybe should it do to better the first film?








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