It has been two weeks since the premier of Jordan Peele’s directorial debut, Get Out, and each day I’ve been engaged in dialogue about the film and its many themes. I can’t think of another horror flick (in my lifetime at least) that has garnered so much social commentary, which makes sense. This isn’t a half-man, half-demon haunting your dreams with corny jokes and knives for fingers. The scariest thing about this movie is that it represents a very real horror that black people face every day.
Even so, with all the commentary and analysis, nobody seems to be discussing the characters that I’ve been thinking about the most since walking out of the theater: Chris’ mother, Detective Latoya, and Georgina i.e. the black women.
Granted, of the three black women in the story, two are actually visible on-screen and we only see one of them for about three minutes. So, I’m not surprised that not many people are talking about them. I also know that experiencing this film as a black woman affects — or perhaps, enhances — my perspective. However, the roles of these characters are more profound than what meets the eye.
Let’s get into it:
Although we never see her on screen, and she is barely mentioned, Chris’ mother is just as central to the plot as Chris and the Armitages. Specifically, her death is the catalyst for the whole movie.
Her death, as a matter of fact, is the gateway to Chris’ “sunken place.” It is the chink in Chris’ mental armor, the weak spot that Missy exploits to lay the foundation of his demise. It’s fitting in this movie, which is a giant metaphor for how white supremacy harms black people, that Chris’ enslavement is indirectly caused by the sustained mental trauma of a broken familial bond.
It’s then easy to argue ― and the character Jim Hudson actually alludes to this ― that had Chris’ mother been alive, he would’ve been mentally fortified enough for hypnosis to not have worked; Jeremy would’ve had to step in and break him down physically. This sounds too familiar…