It’s the kind of film that you see with a socially conscious friend in tow. A word of caution: it may not work with the company of someone who hasn’t yet recognized the racial privilege of the majority race in America or the micro-aggressions of those who pulled themselves up by their colonial bootstraps.
Choose your partner wisely and you’re all set. Head out to your nearest theater to watch the new Jordan Peele (MadTV and Key and Peele) suspense thriller which possesses some pretty heavy socio-political underpinnings.
In fact, as I was leaving the theater, I heard two white guys in their 20s say, “Wow, I’ve never seen a horror movie like this before.”
And they’d be right! Social commentary about racism in America cloaked as a thriller may just be what is needed in today’s political landscape. Once you get past the fake blood and gore of the scenes, these concepts are indeed scary.
Here are at least 5 of them that stood out under a critical lens:
1. Black Men Who are Weak and Without Strong Families are Easy Prey for White Compliance
Only 17 percent of black teenagers reach age 17 in a family with both their biological parents married, compared to 54 percent for white teenagers, according to two new reports released by Family Research Council's Marriage and Religion Research Institute.
Without a proper family structure, black boys are less aware of their identity as a man, a leader, a backbone of their home and their community. They desire family, so they join gangs. They desire love, so they collect multiple sex partners. They desire recognition, so they commit crimes.
In From a Fatherless Father to His Sons, author Andre Harrison speaks of a black boy's need to mimic a male role model. This was the reason for an organization such as 5,000 Role Models in Miami, Florida. Without a model, the boy is doomed to glean behaviors from the streets, from media and from white people who may not have his best interest at heart.
The character of Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) in the movie had an absentee father and a mother who was killed in a hit and run when he was 11. He was most likely targeted by the Armitages, the white family, because he, himself, had no family to speak of. He could be abducted and no one would be the wiser, they thought. No one was going to initiate a nationwide search and rescue. No one would care if he turned up missing. The sad truth is, in America, black lives are often times just as disposable.
2. NCAA Prospects are Candidates for White Female Manipulation
Division 1 universities aren’t the only ones scouting for big, brawny middle linebackers, apparently. In the movie, Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) is seen googling NCAA prospects to find her next target. These boys are graduating seniors, they are seen as mini-gods at their high schools and they are just waiting to receive the affections of a blond-haired, blue-eyed girl who can caress their broad shoulders and bald heads and tell them that they’re “better” than any of the white guys they’ve had to date. I first heard this on a Sarah Says vlog online and there must be truth to it.
Best of all, they are impressionable as they haven’t yet tasted fame in the majors nor have they tasted anything but the lips of black girls who live in their poverty-stricken neighborhoods and low-performing high schools. Why not try what is white – and truly right?
3. White Women Use their Bodies to Charm and Manipulate
In the movie, Rose was incredibly sexually overt. I found it to be odd and wondered why she was so flagrant in her advances – especially while visiting her parents’ home. I wondered why she would be allowed to seduce him with her parents in the next room. It struck me near the end that she was a ploy. She used her body as a way to deter him from seeing what was actually transpiring right under his nose. He was suspicious of certain acts by her family, he was suspicious of the empty stares that the “black help” would give him. However, once she distracted him by giving him her body, he was put at ease, at least temporarily.
It stands to reason that Peele was using this as an illustration of what white women do to black men when they are dating them. Perhaps, the social commentary is that white women lure them in with a sweet, coy, seductiveness that is unfamiliar and exotic, numbing over the pain that these black men are experiencing in their present and the pain that they have experienced in their past. Then, they’ve got them! Open sesame.
4. White Families Exhibit Progressiveness but it May be an Act
The Armitages were exceedingly liberal. It was so liberal in their home that I thought that it was an act or at least a mask for something that they were hiding. Their kids dropping F-bombs at the dinner table. Open conversations about making out. What was the reason for such an explicit show of liberalism? Did they need to make their black visitor super comfortable and unwary so as to sink their hooks in deeper? What were they hiding? We found out later that the uber-progressive father who said he would have voted for Obama for a third term and a hippie-like psychiatrist mother were both out to leech the body and talents of this unsuspecting black boy. Hmmmm….interesting and true to life.
5. Black People are Shells of Themselves, Used for Their Talent and Virilty, controlled by White America
We all remember in 2014 when NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called on NBA owners to force Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling to sell the team for making racist comments that hurt the league. Sterling had told his girlfriend, who recorded him, that he didn’t want her bringing black people as guests to see his basketball games and that he is known for giving his black players everything they have: houses, food, cars, for example.
The final lesson that I learned from watching this film was that black people, for the most part, are pawns –as Sterling so eloquently spoke about in the privacy of his own home. They are shells of human beings, containers for white ideology, used for white recreation and trained in white etiquette.
Without spoiling the movie, you will note that the black people in the story were only useful for their black bodies and black strength!