The Problem of Inequality Between the White and Black Races Is Still Relevant in the Modern World
Although slavery was abolished in 1865, white supremacy continues to be perpetuated in modern society. In response to this, African American director Jordan Peele wrote the movie Get Out to exemplify how we are far from a post-racial world. Get Out is about a white family called the Armitages that embody their white counterparts into black people that they have lured into their home and mind-controlled. Missy hypnotizes the protagonist Chris Washington, who believes she will cure his smoking addiction. Instead, she takes his unwilling presence to what she calls “the sunken place” where Chris does not have control of his body. Peele uses the hypnosis scene in Get Out as a representation of the social inferiority African Americans endure on a daily basis in modern society. Therefore, Missy, representing the white race, is portrayed as superior and Chris Washington, representing the black race, is portrayed as inferior through the use of the symbolism and background noise of Missy’s silver spoon as well as camera angle.
Missy’s use of a silver spoon as a focal point to hypnotize Chris expresses the white race being represented as superior. Missy stirs specifically a silver spoon along her teacup throughout the hypnosis which solidifies that he will not fall out of her trance. The term “silver spoon” is an idiom used to depict wealth being inherited throughout generations. Notably, the wealth and whiteness of the Armitages is what protected them from having any consequences for their unjustly actions against black people. The spoon is literally used to control Chris, but it figuratively represents the inherited authority Missy was given simply from being white. This can relate to how white people throughout generations simply inherit the dominant trait of being white; the social superiority that is reflected from being white is not earned.
Additionally, the background noise of the metal spoon is heard throughout the p of the scene until Chris falls into the “sunken place.” Seeing that the metal spoon is what allowed Missy to hypnotize Chris, the consistent ring of the spoon is a constant reminder to the audience of Missy’s control over him. Yet, Chris himself is essentially unaware that the spoon is what is allowing Missy’s control. Similarly in modern society, unconscious white supremacy and exotic othering is a constant reminder that racism is still bubbling under the surface. However, some African Americans are not fully aware of its existence because they have accepted social inferiority as the status quo.
Another way that the white race is represented as superior and the black race is represented as inferior is through the use of changing camera angles between Chris and Missy. Before Chris falls into the sunken place, the camera angle throughout the scene is an eye-level shot. An eye level shot in film is when the camera is placed at eye level of the viewer and normally considered to be emotionally neutral, therefore does not convey one subject as dominant over another. Since this shot is used up until the the point Missy’s hypnosis is complete, this shows that the camera angle does not convey Missy and Chris to be fully dominant or fully inferior until Chris falls into “the sunken place.”
After Chris falls into “the sunken place” the camera angle switches to Chris looking up at Missy from a worm’s eye view and correspondingly, Missy looking down at Chris from a birds eye view. A worm’s eye view is the point of view of a subject from below, as if the subject were a worm. In film, a worm’s eye view makes the subject looking down at the viewer seem powerful and makes the viewer seem defenseless. A bird’s eye view is the elevated view of an object from above, as if the observer were a bird. Chris in this case, is the viewer that is seen as inferior, looking up at Missy, and Missy is the viewer that is seen as dominant looking down at Chris. This was done to show that Chris had no power to get out of “the sunken place” and was fully subject to Missy’s control after the end of Missy’s hypnosis. In this way, Missy was able to take ownership of Chris’s body. This can be seen as an allusion to how in American history, events like slavery have perpetuated white people having authority to take ownership of black people. The scene is just a modernized expression for this white supremacist ideology.
Throughout the rest of the movie, Chris continues to fall in and out of hypnosis every time he hears the sound of the metal spoon. At the end of the movie, Chris is able to break out of the Armitages control by using cotton to plug his ears and prevent the sound of the metal spoon. In the hypnosis scene, Jordan Peele’s use of symbolism and background noise of Missy’s spoon and changes in camera angle, brings awareness to the audience that white supremacy and inequality between social groups exists. Furthermore the text as a whole disrupts white supremacy seeing that at the end, Chris, a black man, was able to stop the Armitages mind control and break the status quo of white people having dominance over him. Correspondingly, in the real world, it is our responsibility to identify less evident cases of white supremacy and break the status quo that there are hierarchies between races to even attempt to live in a post-racial world.
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