Horror film Get Out, the directorial debut of Jordan Peele, premiered at Sundance Monday night to a packed crowd. Following the screening, Peele told the audience that the story, which follows a black man’s trip to visit his white girlfriend’s parents and the terrifying Stepford Wives-esque twists that follow, was inspired by white liberals who, during the Obama administration, claimed that we live in a post-racial America.
Starring Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, and Bradley Whitford, Get Out begins with Chris (Kaluuya) wondering why his girlfriend Rose (Williams) hasn’t told her parents that he’s black. Rose laughs off the antiquity of the question and ignores his concerns. In a plot that begins as a play on Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, before turning sinister, Chris begins to pick up on the robotic creepiness of the black residents in Rose’s hometown, as well as the forced camaraderie displayed by her parents (Keener and Whitford).
During the Sundance Q&A, Peele—who also wrote the screenplay, expressed that, following Obama’s election in 2008, America was living in a “post-racial lie.”
“For awhile we had a black president and were living in this post-racial lie,” he stated. “This whole idea, like, ‘We’re past it! We’re past it all!’ And for me and many people out there—Black people know. No, there’s racism. I experienced it on an every day basis...This movie was meant to reveal there’s this monster of racism lurking underneath some of these seemingly innocent conversations and situations.”
As for his inspiration, Peele said, “One of my favorite movies is The Stepford Wives, obviously... and the way it dealt with the social issues in regard to gender is something that made me think, ‘Hey, that’s proof that you can pull off a movie about race that’s a thriller that’s just entertaining and fun and a wild ride.”
The idea started when Barack Obama and Hillary were going up against each other for the democratic nomination [in 2008] and all of the sudden, the country was focused for a second on the Black civil rights and women’s civil rights movements and where they intersect. And there was this question of ‘Who deserves to be the president more? Who’s waited long enough?’ And, of course, the absurd thing is that civil rights are even divided, right, when there should be ONE civil right.
But that was when the germ of the idea hit me.
“It’s been fascinating watching the last few years develop because the movie is coming out in a very different America than it began [in],” Peele concluded. “I think it’s much more interesting now and much more important now.”