The Hollywood Reporter: Why ‘Get Out’ Is ‘Invasion of the Black Body Snatchers’ for the Trump Era

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

The horror hit’s family of “chipper Kellyanne  Conways whitesplaining away racism” reveals the modern face of public bigotry, writes the THR columnist and NBA legend, who recalls his own past as the “Good Negro” of white society.

I recently watched the highly entertaining thriller Get Out and the deeply disturbing documentary I Am Not Your Negro. Turns out they’re the same movie. They both deal with the subjugation of the unpopular voice — whether black, female, gay, Muslim, Jewish or immigrant — through the enslavement of the body. Get Out uses the medical-horror genre, and I Am Not Your Negro uses ex-pat African-American writer James Baldwin’s passionate outrage at the martyrdom of his three murdered friends: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. But both films explore the differences between the end of legal slavery and the lingering effects of institutional slavery. The urgent message in both is that unless the body is free from others trying to control its actions and free from constant threat of injury or death, that body, that person, that people are still enslaved.

Get Out‘s well-deserved 99 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and huge financial success have as much to do with its sly, subversive message as its spooky ride. Written and directed by the immensely talented Jordan Peele, the film embodies and expresses the African-American experience with infrastructural racism in a way that blacks hope whites will better understand after seeing it. Most important is the idea that when you live under constant physical threat of violence — whether from police, the legal system or racist groups — that in itself is a way to control people. Ta-Nehisi Coates, in his blunt and incisive book Between the World and Me, describes this daily dilemma for people of color: “Not being violent enough could cost me my body. Being too violent could cost me my body. We could not get out.”

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