"All my life I had to fight" ...
That line Sofia (played by Oprah Winfrey) spoke in The Color Purple came to mind the moment the lights went up after I saw Get Out, a film that went from zero to meme about an hour into its first showing. (Seriously, the #GetOutChallenge? I'm. Done.)
In the words of Universal Pictures publicity, which I'll use for fear of putting my bias -- and spoilers -- into the description of the film: "When a young African-American man visits his white girlfriend's family estate, he becomes ensnared in a more sinister real reason for the invitation." Side eye.
The movie is at once subversive and old-school. It's full of pointed meaning and vague it-could-be's. It's the very definition of "you get from it what you bring to it."
There's always been discussion about revering black bodies while negating black minds. This movie has brought that front and center and forced everyone to talk some more.
Many are going to see the film a second and third time, even those who stay away from anything deemed "horror." The film holds up each time: There is always something new to discover, with some of the hidden messages in the eye of the beholder. And, that, my friends, leads to talking about it.
Jordan Peele, with whom most are familiar because of, well, jokes, on sketch comedy show Key & Peele, and less familiar because of movie comedy Keanu, directs. Peele does so many things at once in Get Out, his directorial debut that he also wrote. But he does them all well. And, let's face facts, when you can turn less than a $5 million investment into 20 times that, you've written a blank check for a career behind the camera.
One can only hope.
We can't stop talking about it. From the Hip takes on Get Out in what became a therapy session with Dallas Morning News Culture Critic Chris Vognar. No tea allowed.
If you can't get Get Out out of your head, but not necessarily for the few jump scares involved, you can dig a little deeper by reading. There are many rivers to cross, but these four immediately came to mind.
Black Like Me: You can step into a black person's shoes. But once you do that, you can never truly step out. That's both the lesson and the warning in Mansfield native John Howard Griffin's true story about his journey through the South as a black man, which he achieved through medication, ultraviolet rays and sheer force of will. No one was prepared for the aftermath, though.
"We Wear the Mask": Paul Laurence Dunbar's poem, at its base about pain, is sweeping even in its brevity. With torn and bleeding hearts, we smile ... You won't be able to stop the swift intake of breath, followed by a long exhale. Written: 1896. Relevant: Now.
VSB: Damon Young is editor of online magazine verysmartbrothas.com. He is insightful and hysterical -- funny, not the other kind -- about race, pop culture and whatever pops into his well-oiled brain. And it's sometimes inciteful, too, asking the reader to think deeper about everyday things. How do you know if the person you count as your black friend really likes you? Let him count the ways. The website will grab you by the headlines, i.e. 'Real Talk, Viola Davis's Spontaneous Snot Bubble in Fences Should Have Won an Oscar Too' and 'I'm Suffering From "Every Time I Hear 'First Lady' I Think 'Michelle Obama' Even Though She Ain't It Anymore" Syndrome,' and keep you with the sharp writing. His contributors play the long game, too. Witness Kayle Barnes' 'For Colored People Still Thinking About Dating Interracially When Watching Get Out Wasn't Enough.'
How to Be Black: In what amounts to a memoir, Baratunde Thurston gathers some friends to help him look at what it means to be black. It's a clever take-down of the theory that there's a monolithic black experience. There are certain cultural touchstones, yes. And Get Out will surely be one of those, the kind that wear the sheen of having been handled so many times. SPOILER ALERT: Just as those police lights in Get Out evoked hopelessness, despair and shrugs all at the same time, the "black experience" is just as varied as those reactions.