EDITOR’S COLUMN: Peele’s Film on Race, ‘Get Out,’ Shows How Far We Haven’t Come

Daniel Kaluuya
Daniel Kaluuya in "Get Out" (Courtesy of Universal Pictures)

Despite a huge assortment of modern-day entertainment options like Netflix, Hulu, various cable stations and bootleg videos from the ‘hood, all ways to engage our minds when we can put down those handheld devices for just an hour or so in order to chill out, there’s still a vibrant market for folks like me who enjoy a little cuddling in the dark with their “boo” while sipping on a soda and gobbling down a bucket of overly-buttered popcorn. Yes, the romantic rendezvous at the movie remains alive and well.

I had been hearing about that talented brother Jordan Peele, who makes up half of the popular sketch-comedy duo of “Key and Peele” and who recently surged ahead with his directorial debut, “Get Out.” In fact, I have heard so much positive feedback about the horror film that I put everything on hold so we could check it out for ourselves.

After sitting on the edge of my seat from start to finish, I understood why it’s earned more than $130 million and climbing — and has been among the top five money earners this season — challenging films that were almost guaranteed to score big — including “Logan.” I was intrigued, excited and ready to have some serious conversations with a few folks. And I had some questions to present.

Who says Black directors can’t make it in Hollywood? Who says Blacks can’t direct films that will attract more than just a handful of brothers and sisters burdened by limited education and lackluster career goals? Who says millennials won’t put their devices down long enough to watch a movie with a crowd of others eager to collectively scream, laugh, jump and willing to use their brains to predict the next scene?

“Get Out” has taken America by storm, dominating the social media commentary waves in a way that only a handful of films have been able in the past. As for the bad guys who we’d probably expect to be supporters of Donald Trump and his “Make America Great” philosophy, we’re shocked to discover that they’re white liberals who loved Barack Obama — so much so that they’d vote him in office for a third term, if they could.

The story centers on a Black dude who connects with a white chick for a physical encounter — over and over again. After five months, he agrees to accompany her for a family visit in the idyllic suburbs. Seems like there won’t be much to it. Already I’m wondering why I wasted my money. Then, we find out that the family belongs to a cult — one that wants to extend their lives by taking residence in the bodies of young, healthy Black men and women — virile, agile — able to run fast and procreate on a dime. Unfortunately, the Black folks have to lose their identities, their freedom — becoming “zombies.”

Rich white people want to take over Black bodies. Who would have thought it? And they seem to have just about perfected the process, given one or two flubs. Darn Chris, looks like you hooked up with the wrong white girl. Bet you can’t forget the words of your best friend, a TSA agent who has reminded you that it’s dangerous going to Grandmother’s house in the woods. Why didn’t you listen to him when he said be careful? Why didn’t you believe him when he warned you about a possible unhappy ending once Mommy and Daddy learned their lily-white daughter was getting it on with a dark-skinned brother from the city.

Who will believe Chris or his homeboy from TSA? Who would believe a brother who visits the pristine white burbs and then claims there’s something crazy going on? Would you?

It’s a worst-case scenario with an ending that will shock you.

Peele is brilliant with a film that seems to ask if we can’t all just get along? Thanks Rodney King. So, can we? Haven’t we entered that long-desired reality where the evils and illnesses that have been centuries-old by-products of red, white and blue-produced racism and prejudice have finally given way to a new post-racial America?

Who needs Trump? Let Obama return. Or better yet, that other almost Black president, Bill Clinton.

About D. Kevin McNeir – Washington Informer Editor 146 Articles

Award-winning journalist, book editor, voice-over specialist and author with 17 years in the industry. Currently an education and religion beat reporter for The Washington Informer. But I also tackle local (D.C. and Maryland) politics, entertainment, business and health articles to maintain my edge.

Born and raised in Motown and a staunch Wolverine – that is a graduate of the University of Michigan, I left corporate America (IBM) to pursue my passion for writing, accepting a beat reporter’s gig under the tutelage of the late Sam Logan, founding publisher of the Michigan Chronicle. I continued to hone my craft at N’DIGO Magapaper, Windy City Times and The Wednesday Journal, all in Chicagoland; the Atlanta Voice and The Miami Times. I’ve been fortunate to be chosen twice as the Feature Writer of the Year by the Chicago Association of Black Journalists. Later, as the senior editor of one of the country’s oldest Black-owned newspapers, The Miami Times, I helped my staff bring home the NNPA’s highest honor – Publication of the Year, 2001. That same year I picked up first and second place awards for news and feature writing, respectively, also from the NNPA.

Today I’m based in the nation’s capital where I’m honored to serve as the editor for The Washington Informer. Recognizing the importance of education, I’ve earned two master’s degrees from Emory University, Summa Cum Laude and Princeton Theological Seminary, majoring in theology and philosophy.

If I can slow down, I may actually complete and publish a collection of essays I’ve been working on for many years, “Growing up Motown,” sharing childhood memories of experiences with musical legends like Marvin Gaye, Kim Weston, the Four Tops, the Miracles, Gladys Knight and Take Six. My favorite foods: spinach, lasagna, pancakes and Oysters Rockefeller. My mom, 86, always my “best friend” and “cheerleader,” now lives with me and she brings me great joy. I’m a fiercely protective yet encouraging father and grandfather always down for traveling, shopping or celebrating the natural beauty of God’s world. I live by the following words: “Less is more” and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

You can reach me on Twitter (@dkevinmcneir), Facebook (Kevin McNeir) or via e-mail, mcneirdk@washingtoninformer.com