Get Out Review
By Stacy Cacciatore
When analyzing Get Out from a rhetorical hermeneutics perspective, I noticed the objectification of the black male body. For example, in the garden party scene, all of the white people are ogling at his body. One squeezes his bicep while another asks “is it true?” referring to the stereotype that black men have larger penis’ (Get Out). While it seems as if the white people are being complimentary of him and his physique they are reducing him to racial stereotypes that for what his body can “do” for them.
Henry (2017) posits in A Review of Get Out: On White Terror and the Black Body that Peele’s groundbreaking movie brings to light the objectification of the black body. Henry states:
I argue here that Peele’s Get Out illustrates the protracted terrorism that is whiteness and the concomitant objectification and utilization of the black body for survival, accumulation, and pleasure. That is to say, whiteness—a socially constructed, yet materially manifested ideology, practice, and positionality—operates to secure its symbolic and structural advantage, its dominance, by devaluing, debasing, and dispossessing that which is constituted as black (333).
We see this play out in the garden party scene. The white garden party-goers want to use black men for their bodies, violating them and inserting themselves into them without their permission or knowledge. At the same time, they want to strip black men down to their shell and insert their“white mind”, which they deem as superior.
In the scene where Chris is watching the video, explaining the process to him, the blind white man who bought him (Jim) says, “What I want is so much deeper: Your eyes, man. I want those things you see through” (Get Out). This quote exemplifies the objectification of black men as mere vessels, while at the same time highlighting that the white people want to “see” through the black experience.
What’s also interesting is that Peele highlights these racial microaggressions without overt displays of racism. For example, the white people appear to be complimentary of him, to the point of marveling over his black body. We don’t see Confederate flags flying or people in white hoods nor do we hear overt racial slurs. However, what we do see is a series of racial microaggressions. That is the genius of this film, as Peele articulates the racism we see in America today, which is cloaked.
There are also linkages to the possession of the black body and slavery. Henry (2017) says, “The white terror situates black bodies and life as fungible and privy to and property of white possession” (334).In the Bingo scene, Dean Armitage (Roses’ Father) is literally auctioning Chris, just as white men auctioned slaves in the south, where black people were bought, sold and traded like property. The horror in this film is the harkening to real-life horrors that have occurred in the past and the fear of the reawakening of these practices.
Henry, Kevin Lawrence. “A Review of Get Out: On White Terror and the Black Body.” Equity & Excellence in Education, vol. 50, no. 3, 2017, pp. 333–335., doi:10.1080/10665684.2017.1336952.
Peele, Jordan, director. Get Out. Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, 2017.