Comedian Jordan Peele debuted his new horror film, Get Out, this week at the Sundance Film Festival, and the most shocking thing about the film is its bad guy: white liberal racism.
“It was very important to me for this not to be about a black guy going to the South and going to this red state where the presumption for a lot of people is everybody’s racist there,” Peele told the audience after the film’s midnight screening. “This was meant to take a stab at the liberal elite that tends to believe that ‘We’re above these things.'”
Get Out follows the events that unfold when a young black man Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) meets the wealthy liberal parents of his white girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) who are carrying out an evil plan to imprison their well-heeled suburb’s few black residents.
The idea for Get Out — a film which Peele thought “was never going to get made” — came during the 2008 presidential primary battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
“All of a sudden the country was kind of focused on black civil rights and women’s civil rights movements and where they intersect, and there was kind of this question of, who deserves to be president more?” Peele explained. “Who’s waited long enough? Which is an absurd thing — that civil rights are even divided.”
Drawing from The Stepford Wives, Peele’s favorite film, the comic was able to develop a plot that exposed what he called the “post-racial lie” that “we’re past” this “monster of racism” — a lie that Peele admits doesn’t flow from “red states.”
One example of this “post-racial lie” in the film is evident when Chris’s girlfriend fails to mention to her neurosurgeon father (Bradley Whitford) that her new boyfriend is black. Rose’s father constantly calls Chris “my man,” admits that he would have voted for Obama for a third term, and said his father lost at the Olympics to Jesse Owens and has affinity for the Nazis. It all feels like soft bigotry, Peele explains to the audience. “That is how we experience racism. The monster of racism lurks underneath that conversation.”
Get Out, Peele says, is “coming out in a very different America” than the one in which he wrote the script for the film. “It’s more important and interesting now,” he says, in the era of President Trump.
Peele is perhaps best known for his starring role on the hit Comedy Central series Key and Peele, where his portrayal of a mild-mannered President Obama became an Internet sensation. The comedian recently reprised the role on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show for one final time alongside Keegan-Michael Key, who played President Obama’s “anger translator” Luther.
Get Out opens in theaters on February 24.