…it’s one country, and for a Negro, there’s no difference between the North and South. There’s just a difference in the way they castrate you. -James Baldwin
Get Out was funny because it was true, whether it was the pauses exchanged between Chris and Rose, the hilarious freedom Rose had to verbally disrespect a police officer, or the perfectly awkward “Black is in” line delivered by the Colonel Sanders #StraightOuttaKFC look-a-like.
And it was scary for this exact reason. It reflected harsh truths of our America. What hearkened me back to reality weren’t the classic horror tropes but the realization that the fear I saw reflected on the big screen was in me before the movie started.
It was the real fucked up psychosis that white supremacy induces in its hegemons and the rest of us who have unwillingly consented to its power. It was the fear of every Trayvon, every Amadou Diallo, and every Sandra resonating through each clip of that film. A resonance which hauntingly and patiently screamed “some of these white folks are out to kill you.”
Even worse, some of them were out to be like us. In order to cure their own fucked-up psychosis, they were willing to kill, tranquilize, hypnotize, and even lobotomize us in the process. The only part of that movie that was 20 percent fiction was the hypnosis to sex-slave situation. The rest was pure America: well-intentioned white families mingling with traumatized and patrolled black bodies in an illusionary third term Obama state. Everything in between that black and white binary is ignored.
I laughed. I got angry. I got very fearful. Then I rejoiced.
I realized how rare this was in cinema. A black body outlasting white bodies in a horror movie.
I rejoiced in glee at the climax watching Chris violently resist the white dominance. That might have been the scariest part for me and perhaps white folks in the audience. I did not feel guilty or apologetic when I watched him use violence to escape his tormentors. I only began reflecting on my casual acceptance of this violence when the black grandmother’s laughter, sitting a few rows from me, echoed throughout the theater at the same gory sight. The writer in me wants to say that was the laughter of centuries of internalized pain and oppression being momentarily released. But, in truth, I haven’t a clue. My gut reaction was to scan the theater to look for other folks’ reactions to grandma.
To be frank, I looked around the theater to validate something. I wanted to validate an innate belief I’ve carried ever since I first saw that look in the eyes of the father of that white girl I had a crush on in grade school. It was the look of the true white man’s burden. The burden of living with the fear that, at any moment, these slaves might snap out of it, wake up, remember, and try to…get out.
What white people have to do, is try and find out in their own hearts why it was necessary to have a nigger in the first place, because I’m not a nigger, I’m a man, but if you think I’m a nigger, it means you need it. -James Baldwin