Deconstructing: One Line from Get Out

It probably doesn’t need to be said, but there are spoilers ahead. I saw Get Out on Tuesday and I loved it. I thought it was the top 10% of movies I’ve ever seen, and the only criticisms I had were ridiculously minor nitpicks. That’s a thing that I do – pick at nits. I was disappointed in the need to advertise Microsoft Surface Pro, feeling that people using other computers might be able to show us things about them.

But there are so many things I loved about it that you should ignore my minuscule critiques and instead watch it and love it. Deconstruction of a couple of things below.

There is one line that has been rattling around in my head since the movie ended, an exchange that I have been turning over in my head and weighing. I’ve poked at it and picked at it, trying to see how it works and interacts with the other pieces of the movie.

At the big reveal for what is “actually going on” (TM), our protagonist, Chris, has a conversation that reveals that rich, mostly white, folks are implanting their brains in the bodies of younger people. The movie heavily implies that they are only using Black men and women, and doesn’t fully explore why (from seeing it only once, I might have very well missed something). Chris stands in for the audience for a moment and asks why Black people, asking for an answer that would be profound, possibly revealing something deep.

It is the answer that he gets that I’ve been turning over in my head. Jim, the man who has purchased Chris/Chris’s body (I love that interplay) gives an explanation that feels utterly disappointing and banal. He talks about racial stereotypes of people of African decent having better athleticism, he talks about how they’re more stylish or otherwise “in” right now, then attempts to save face by saying he isn’t after those things. No, Jim, the man that earlier in the movie seems like the person who sees through the bullshit of the world in the White suburbs, argues that he just wants Chris’s eyes.

I need to backtrack a minute and give context for this. During an amazing conversation between Jim and Chris, Jim explains that he is a blind art dealer, and is a failed photographer. He had the skill, but lacked the certain something to make his art pop. Chris, by contrast, captures a brutality and aggression in the world through his photographs, perhaps a product of his own background. Jim asserts that he didn’t purchase Chris because he was Black, but rather to realize his dreams of being a successful photographer using Chris’s eyes, as though that is somehow better.

At the time, I felt disappointed by the line that was being given. It felt like it didn’t contribute to the story and, instead, was a let-down after the build up. There was no real underlying reason for it being Black men and women, it just was. I sat on it, and kept thinking on it, and I’ve come around. Any grand reveal would have detracted from the movie, and would have detracted from the White Liberalism that the movie is purposefully satirizing and deconstructing (deconstruction-ception?). Jim and the others can’t admit the real reason that they’re willing to do such terrible things is because they don’t really see their victims as people. They want to pretend they do, want to believe that they’re somehow better than other people who’s racism is overt, but at the same time refuse to examine their own nature, their own prejudices.

That one line serves so much in regards to the larger theme of the movie, and each line should do this. The conversation between the two men is a great encapsulation of the larger themes of the movie while continuing to contribute to it.

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