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Analysis of Setting & Symbolism in “Get Out” in the Portrayal of Modern Racism in America

By: Perisa Ashar

My eyes were filled with amazement as I tried to process everything that had happened in front of me, as soon as the spectacular movie, Get Out, had concluded. The main idea of this movie entailed the fact that post-racism is still alive in the United States, which should be a scary factor for all minorities. However, instead of being shaken by the several horror aspects of this field, I was quite touched and emotional about some of the sentimental scenes, which still made me understand the similar emotions and cries of minorities in our country today. This reminded me of our current times, especially with the new administration, and the fear stirring up within all migrants and minorities. It is hard to believe that a melting pot country, America, built from the lives of all immigrants and minorities, could have transpired to this current situation. One particular factor that caught my eye was the fine attention to detail to space and setting that especially reinforce the main points of the director, Jordan Peele.

In this movie, the protagonist, Chris is a professional photographer. However, his occupation allows him to display some of his personal qualities that provide great evidence, even for the main context of post-racialism in this movie. In the very beginning, Chris is viewed as a caution person who views every little thing in fine detail in the space around him. In the beginning of this movie, Chris accidentally gets in a car accident with a deer. Subsequently, he stares vividly into the eyes of the deceased deer, displaying his close attention to detail and space. Other examples of Chris’s fine attention to detail is the distance between himself and the pictures and people that photographs.

Ultimately, Chirs’s attention to detail allows him to be more attuned to space impacts his visit to Rose’s house, in which he meets with her family members and guests. For example, Rose’s mentally-unstable brother is constantly invading Chris’s personal space, to the point in which it makes the audience feel uncomfortable and somewhat concerned for Chris. While Chris meets with Rose’s guests the subsequent day, many people violate his personal space (by either petting him on his back) or an uncomfortable feeling arises when Chris shakes his hand with any of the other white guests. This type of indirect foreshadowing allows the reader to believe that some eccentric within the film is occurring,

The director’s fine attention to detail also plays a vital role in the movie’s setting, due to the fact that most of the eccentric, illegal activities happen during nighttime. For example, one of Chris’s friends, was kidnapped during the very first scene of this movie at night time. Rose’s mother had also hypnotized Chris during nighttime, and their servants started to act more strangely during the nighttime than daytime. In addition, the entire family kidnaps Chris the subsequent night, so that they can take advantage of his eyesight and steal his eyeballs. This symbolic representation shows that it is hard to find or notice these types of eccentric instances during broad daylight. People in the current society can be easily deceived in the fact that racism is non-existent, just because it is quite different than old-fashioned racism that had taken place in the Jim Crow Era. Post-racism is still a current problem, hiding in the underlying shadows of the society today.

Finally, Jordan uses a repetition of space pictures throughout the movie. This “sunken space” represented the far distance that Chris was from reality. For example, in the movie, Chris is only a few feet away from Miss Armitage (when she hypnotizes him). However, Chris (himself) feels that he is sinking into this void of sunken space, which makes him look further away from reality (depicting Miss Armitage) than he actually is. However, this sunken space also has a symbolic meaning. In fact, it represents the amount of space between the white race (represented by Rose’s mother) and the African American race (represented by Chris falling into the space void). The amount of space between these two races still represents the large racism still present in our current society. However, instead of watching this division, citizens like myself can help rid of this distinct space between minorities and majorities.

The “sunken space” also can be interpreted in several other ways. In his text titled “Anger Translator: Jordan Peele’s Get Out”, Michael Jarvis describes the “sunken place” as a state of paralysis for Chris, in which he falls into that void, while his virtual perspective hovers above him. Jarvis describes this scene as both horrifying and beautiful. However, Jarvis also compares Chris’s paralysis in the “sunken place” to the theater: where the “intelligence” and “voice” of African American people are devalued, and they are basically cast as passive spectators (who are unrepresented in the onscreen action). However, Jarvis ultimately connected the “sunken place” as a metaphor in post-racialism. For example, after President Obama had won the presidency, many people had believed that racism was non-existent. However, the “sunken place” had symbolized the way that black men are abducted, cast down into an abyss and forgotten, the way that white supremacy turns people into bodies.” Ironically, when the film had come out, Donald Trump was just elected the 45th president, which ultimately showed the underlying subtext of the movie had unfortunately become our current reality again.

Therefore, the setting and space in the movie, Get Out, are important in emphasizing its main context, which discusses the effects of post-racialism. This movie is a series of paradoxes at the same time. It is simultaneously scary yet beautiful. Even though it tackles the problems of the modern forms of racism in today’s society, the director includes subtle yet powerful symbols throughout this movie to help recognize this problem that needs to be fixed.

Works Cited

Jarvis, Michael. “Anger Translator: Jordan Peele’s Get Out.” Science Fiction Film and

Television, vol. 11, no. 1, 2018, pp. 97-108.

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