This is spoilers light if there’s any at all. I’m mostly going to discuss my feelings about the film, the movie going experience, and the subject matter as it relates to me.
Let me pain the picture: I am running late getting my ticket because it’s raining and the only reliably fun thing to do in this city when it rains is watch a movie. San Antonio is a city built for the outdoors. The Riverwalk, outdoor malls, the downtown market area, Mexican restaurants with patio seating…
It’s our bread and butter. Even then I thought that the crowds would be seeing Logan on it’s opening weekend, but no my theater was almost sold out. I bought one of the last four seats.
Given the obvious racial overtones of the movie I expected it to be mostly black and Hispanic, but the movie was mostly a white audience. I set next to a guy who was about as good ol country boy as they come and his black girlfriend. It was a strange feeling and with the anxiety creeping back in lately I didn’t want to be in a theater full of people to begin with.
I stuck it out and the first thing I will say about this movie directly is that it’s a strange feeling to have your experiences translated to the screen in such a relatable manner. Black people and white people may work in the same buildings and share the same streets and businesses or even neighborhoods, but there’s a certain level of segregation that goes on even today. This creates situations where people don’t know how to act around other races in casual settings. It’s not always the case, but it happens.
And if you’re the only black person at a party or function you can feel like you’re on display. If you’re dating a white woman (or really any woman of another race) it’s a conversation that might come up before you meet their family or friends: “Do they know I’m black?”
Sure, the most organic way to bring this up would be a picture of the two of you. But when you open the door and let it be known you’re dating outside your race you open the door to strange shit. People warning you of things to look out for and offering up all kinds of advice that you honestly didn’t ask for.
Another strange thing that happens sometimes when you’re black around a group of white people who aren’t used to it is they’ll bend over backwards to try and prove how not racist they are. They’d vote for Obama for a third term if they could. They’re jealous of how powerful and beautiful Serena Williams is. Then they’re name dropping black artists or actors or telling you how articulate you are.
These things aren’t malicious, at least not in the sense of intention, but they still make you feel bad and uncomfortable. They still make you feel like you don’t belong.
“Get Out” frames all of this in that sense. You feel Chris’s status as an outsider from the moment that he arrives. You have to sit through the award dinner conversation about the athleticism of the black body or hear someone wax on about how their father did so much to help blacks in the past.
And that’s the thing, in the later stages “Get Out” makes a great little bit of horror, but the early part of the film sets up the feeling of alienation and it’s shocking how well it’s done and how you could feel the dread in the entire audience.
Movies like this are important. I told a friend over the phone that I had seen movies about racism from a black perspective before and I had seen black genre movies before, but the two are usually separate. Anything about racism is set in a historical context of slavery or some overwhelming sense of self-determination to overcome adversity. They’re never just set in just suburbia and the few that might be out there weren’t this well polished.
Media plays an important part in normalizing behavior and what people expect. There’s a lot of important stories out there that need to be told. Last year when Donald Glover’s new show “Atlanta” was set to premier he said that he had hired all black writers for the show because there was more to the black experience in America than most people had ever seen on television and that it might surprise people. I don’t know if you have to separate out the writers, but you have to be willing to listen to the experience of others and take them as valid.
And I’d say with the clapping at the end of this movie people did just that.