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The Socialist’s Journal: ‘Get Out’ and the Golden Globes

*Apparently “Get Out” is a comedy.

Was it funny when Lil Rey’s character, Rod, rescues Daniel Kaluuya’s character, Chris, and immediately says “I told you not to go?” Yes of course it was. And, was it funny when Chris is fighting his way out of a house where he was going to undergo a brain transplant? Of course not. But what about the grey area where characters are sprinting in the middle of the night, smugly protecting their mate, or professing their love for past presidents? Were you laughing when you viewed those scenes?

Universal Pictures has done everyone a disservice by submitting this film for consideration in the comedy/musical category for the Golden Globes because, quite simply, it isn’t that funny. But my indignation rises when I look back at the movie and realize it wasn’t even supposed to be that funny.

I am not a Hollywood insider but apparently the people at Universal Pictures played a common gambit and allowed the film to go into the comedy/musical category so that it might get more critical acclaim with lesser competition. I can understand their way of thinking. Get Out was a suspenseful, horror based film that had moments of comedy, and would probably have had a difficult time against movies like Dunkirk in the drama category. But by allowing, in fact encouraging, people to view it as a comedy Universal Pictures is trivializing the content of the film. Comedies are lighthearted. Comedies are supposed to be laughed at. Comedies are supposed to end with neat resolutions and no unanswered questions. Get Out does not fit such a description. Even with a premise as fantastic as brain transplants, Get Out is a movie about race and racism at its core and it is upsetting that the people in charge of the film believe it prudent to laugh at the issue.

Jordan Peele has worked as a comedian for most of his adult life. Before this film he would most likely have been referenced as half of Key and Peele, a comedy team that had a successful sketch show on Comedy Central. So when it was announced that Jordan Peele was directing a film, most people probably expected more comedy; I certainly did. Nevertheless it doesn’t take long before you realize the film Is not lighthearted. The first scene is of a person lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood who is subsequently abducted. To look past the content of the film and classify it based on the director’s past work is to assert that he can never move beyond his comedic background. Because if this film doesn’t convince you he’s more than a comedian, no film will.

This situation slightly reminds me of the path Jim Carrey ventured down in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Having been extremely successful as a comedian and leading actor in comedic films, Carrey began to take on more dramatic roles. But to some degree he was typecast already. Because Carrey has such comedic timing it seemed as if audiences were waiting for the next joke instead of appreciating his dramatic performances on their own merit. It looks as if Peele will have to fight a similar battle – and one he is already failing at. He allegedly was initially supportive of the classification but more recently has been joking about the fact that the film is not easily pinned down into a genre.

Trevor Brookins
Trevor Brookins

I disagree. The film clearly belongs to “suspense.” And if Peele is not interested in solidifying his ability to work outside of comedy, so be it. Perhaps his work will speak for itself and he will be able to continue jumping back and forth. But I do believe that this film was important enough, and the topic important enough that he should have put more effort into its labeling. After all Peele himself said one of the reasons he made it was because of the undercurrent of racism that helped elect our president.

When Get Out became a cultural phenomenon earlier this year, when all of your friends told you to see it or when you talked about it, when it was reported on, was conversation about all of sidesplitting laughter? Of course not. And that’s why this categorization just isn’t funny.

Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War.  His writing has appeared in The Journal News. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @historictrev.


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