When Jordan Peele wrote the screenplay for Get Out, it began as a playful writing process with Peele exploring his favorite film genre, horror. As he continued to write, however, he realized the social gravity embedded in the narrative he was crafting.
Peele recognized the potential in pairing the semantic weight of the story with the bodily genre of ‘horror.’ In other words, for him, pairing the plot of a Black man going to meet his white girlfriend’s family with the genre of horror, was the most fitting way to tell the story of being a Black man in America.
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More specifically, it allowed audiences to be aligned with the subjectivity of a Black man, existing in a Black body — a body that is at once, subject to external gazes, fetishization, objectification — and at the same time, is out of sight, because apparently some white people “don’t see color.”
Indeed, audiences are right there with Chris and share his discomfort as he bats away micro-aggressions and smiles awkwardly at the out of context references to Obama, Tiger Woods, and Jesse Owens from his girlfriend’s immediate white family and their white friends.
What is so incredible about Peele’s approach to his film is that by situating audiences with the protagonist and his tumultuous journey across the film, he reveals the casual forms of racism that Chris encounters are symptoms of larger systemic forms of racial oppression that are unable to be disentangled from the horrific historical legacy of slavery.
So why horror? For Peele, the genre is the way to expose the “deep horror of racism,” itself. And that horror — like comedy — taps into and exposes a truth. This truth is revealed through a constant push and pull of the audience’s emotions.
Tension and suspense builds and is then, released. In the case of Get Out, the tension is released with comedy — most consistently provided by Chris’s best friend, Rod.
In speaking to Forbes on the impact the horror genre has on audiences and its effectiveness in addressing social issues, Peele stated,
“As with comedy, I feel like horror and the thriller genre is a way, one of the few ways, that we can address real-life horrors and social injustices in an entertaining way. We go to the theater to be entertained, but if what is left after you watch the movie is a sort of eye-opening perspective on some social issues, then it can be a really powerful piece of art.”
On the back of the success of his viscerally charged horror film, Get Out, Peele is set to produce a reboot of the 1992 horror film, Candyman. The reboot will be directed by Little Woods director and writer, Nia DaCosta.
Though Get Out was Peele’s directorial debut, many know Peele as the other half of the hilarious comedy duo, Key and Peele. Their skit comedy show, also starring Keegan-Michael Key, garnered a huge fan following and Peele became known for his uncanny impersonation of President Obama.
While Peele is continuing to work within the generic conventions of horror, he has also entered into a different dimension.
Peele is rebooting the classic sci-fi/horror series, The Twilight Zone, set to be released and streamed on CBS All Access next year.
Peele will serve as executive producer on the show alongside Simon Kinberg. The filmmaker will also lend his voice in narrating the show while also serving as the show’s host.
Despite the film set to be released next year, there have been little details released about the paranormal series. What we do know is the cast includes, Adam Scott, Sanaa Lathant, John Cho, Allison Tolman, and Jacob Tremblay.
While tackling any franchise is a daunting task, Peele is up for it and is ready to continue the legacy of the visionary Rod Serling and is ready to (re)introduce the series new generation of audiences.