Jordan Peele Talks ‘Get Out’ And How “The Power Of Story Encourages Empathy” — The Contenders
Jordan Peele’s smash hit Get Out pulled inspiration from Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives to serve up an allegory on the black identity. Introducing the world to “the sunken place,” Get Out not only earned over $250 million at the global box office to date but sculpted a different take on the issue of identity politics and the horror lurking beneath it. Peele took the stage at the Contenders with Deadline co-editor and moderator Mike Fleming Jr. to talk about how its storytelling reflects the current social landscape.
Known mostly for his comedy sketch show Key and Peele, Peele says that he chose to stray away from the funny and go into horror because it is his favorite genre. However, he ties in the popular “Luther, Obama’s anger translator” sketch into Get Out. He says the sketch was a response to a lack of discussion about race and the “racist s***” being said about Obama. In a way, his real feelings were being suppressed — hence the creation of Luther. “[Obama] wasn’t calling it out for fear of being categorized as the angry black man,” said Peele.
For those who haven’t seen Get Out, the story follows Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), who goes on what seems like an innocent — albeit nerve-racking visit to his girlfriend’s (Allison Williams) family’s uber-suburban house. At first, he’s anxious about her parents’ (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) reaction to their daughter’s interracial relationship but his nervousness takes a turn for a worst when he discovers that there is something more disturbing behind the overaccommodating behavior from her family and their creepy, white neighbors.
With a race relation spin on Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Peele said that, in many ways, illustrates some of his “greatest fears” on film.
Peele did have apprehensions about making an ambitious film. “There are too many things in it that you can’t do in film,” said Peele, specifically pointing out how in the finale a black man kills a white family — even though the white family is terrorizing him. He mentions how the movie eliminates the “white savior” trope but above all, he points out how it puts you in the shoes of the film’s protagonist regardless of race.
“You are Chris when you watch this movie,” said Peele. “The power of story encourages empathy. It allows us to see through other people’s lives.”
All the white characters in the movie may seem evil, but Peele invites to be proven otherwise. At the end of the panel he joked, “If you haven’t seen the movie, maybe there’s a good white person in it.”
The film also stars Caleb Landry Jones, Milton “Lil Rel” Howery, Betty Gabriel, Marcus Henderson and Keith Stanfield. The Universal film was produced by Blumhouse’s Jason Blum as well as QC Entertainment’s Sean McKittrick, Peele and Edward H. Hamm Jr.