Illustration by Gemma Fa-Kaji
With a resurgence in quality thriller/horror movies in recent years, it’s exciting to see the top tier ones getting public and critical acclaim. Films like The Babadook, and The Gift, have both received overall rave critical reviews, as nail-biting, heart pounding, edge of your seat type movies. One movie, however, received a near perfect 99 percent rating from critics on review website, Rotten Tomatoes, and may be one of the best horror/thriller/mystery combination movies that we’ve seen in the twenty first century. Get Out, directed by Jordan Peele (yes the same one who starred in popular sketch-comedy Key and Peele) is a chilling horror-satire that was released on February 24, 2017 to national success and popularity, still has many talking. Most discussions I’ve had about this film began with adjectives like “creepy,” “scary,” and “disturbing,” but with everyone I talked to agreeing that it was a great movie.
Not one time, however, did I hear someone use the words “funny” or “comedy” when describing their thoughts on it, so it was quite a shock to many when it was nominated as a comedy for the 2017 Golden Globe awards. Let’s remember that this film has been given stylistic praise as similar to movies like Psycho, widely considered one of the greatest thriller/horror movies of all time, made by one of the greatest and most influential film directors of all time, Alfred Hitchcock. Add in the context of the movie, and it is no surprise that people are confused and angry considering this narrative was clearly not created with a main goal of comedic value. Yet does this mean the movie is being done an injustice by being nominated as a comedy? The answer is no, because the Golden Globes doesn’t matter in this context, and when understanding the significance of the narrative of the film, it’s clear as to why.
Before explaining why it doesn’t matter, it’s important to understand why it could matter, and that people are not wrong for being upset. In short, Get Out is a satirical horror film that illustrates the underlying racism still endured on a daily basis by black people across the country. Peele has talked about the problem he has with the way that many liberal white people try to identify with black people, which he shows in his film with quotes from some of the white characters like “I would’ve voted for Obama for a third term if I could have” or references to Tiger Woods when talking about golf.
“I think they’re trying to say something good” says Peele, “but inherent in that is a disregard for the humanity of a person… you are automatically seeing the color of a person first.” This is more or less the main focus of the movie, and it uses symbolization and satire to represent the danger of this mindset, and the monster it can create. Without giving away any more of the movie to any late viewers, the premise is clearly not a laughing matter.
So it makes sense why people would be angry, and feel that once again the media is not taking racism in our society seriously enough. However, as much of a snub and a weird selection it must seem for Get Out to be nominated as a comedy, it really isn’t that unusual at all. The Golden Globes has a reputation for weird nominations, like 2010 film The Tourist for best thriller/action film. With a twenty percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and generally scathing reviews, it does make one question the reliability of the Golden Globes.
Another important thing to realize about Get Out was that it was actually submitted as a comedy, meaning that it was the studio executives choice to submit it as a comedy, their main explanation being there is no horror/thriller category in the Golden Globes for the film to be recognized in.
When asked about this surprising decision, Peele’s reply was confident and indignant, stating that it doesn’t matter how it’s nominated, as long as it’s recognized that the narrative of this film is no joke; “When I originally heard the idea of placing it in the comedy category it didn’t register to me as an issue. I missed it. There’s no category for social thriller. So what? I moved on…The reason for the visceral response to this movie being called a comedy is that we are still living in a time in which African American cries for justice aren’t being taken seriously. It’s important to acknowledge that though there are funny moments, the systemic racism that the movie is about is very real. More than anything, it shows me that film can be a force for change. At the end of the day, call Get Out horror, comedy, drama, action or documentary, etc. Whatever you call it, just know it’s our truth.”