If you haven’t watched Jordan Peele’s directorial debut Get Out already, then you should stop what you're doing and go check it out right now. The movie has impressed critics and audiences alike with its mix of thrills and comedy, and its discussions about systemic racism and interracial dating have struck a chord with many people. And while the whole film is intriguing, it's the ending of Get Out that stuck out the most to me, for what it says about being Black and interacting with police.
As a Black person, I've experienced racism and microaggressions throughout my entire life, and so walking into Get Out, I was curious about what I'd see on-screen, and how the movie would handle those issues. As it turns out, it's the movie's ending that proved to be the most thought-provoking segment, at least in my eyes. Spoilers ahead! At the film's end, Chris, who is black, escapes the clutches of his girlfriend Rose’s crazed family after realizing that their master plan is to steal Black people's bodies for their fetishized physical and mental attributes. Chris fights off Rose's mother, father, and brother to run away, but as he's escaping, he encounters Rose, and this is where things get insane.
Rose is the last white person left, the final racist obstacle Chris has to confront in order to make it out alive. After being shot by one of the family's robot-like Black slaves, Rose lies bleeding out on the ground, and Chris hovers over her with his hands around her neck, to ensure that she dies. Even as she bleeds, Rose breaks into a devilish smile, as if she is happy that Chris is falling into the stereotype of a brute Black male. And then, when sirens and what appears to be police lights appear, Rose tries to turn from villain to victim and pleads for help. Upon hearing the sirens, Chris stands up, bloody and with a face full of fear, and raises his hands in compliance, not wanting the police to hurt him. Thankfully, he quickly sees that it is not the cops, but his loyal, ride-or-die, friend Rod in a TSA patrol car coming to save the day.
At this very moment, everyone in my theater began to shout and clap, happy to see the appearance of Chris' friend. But although I was happy about this too, my excitement was dimmed when I looked around the theater and noticed who, exactly, was clapping. In a theater of what seemed to be approximately 300 seats, more than half of the audience was White, and most of the people who were cheering and clapping about it not being the cops were White, too. I saw a couple Black people sighing in relief, with smiles on their faces, but soon, it appeared that reality hit them, and the smiles were gone.
To me, this ending scene is not the triumph it appeared to be for those White moviegoers in my audience. Instead, the fact that Chris puts his hands up in surrender when he hears the sirens is simply a reflection of the sad reality of Black-police relations in our society and the emotions Black people have always experienced when it comes to crime in America. Rose's actions in the scene represent the White manipulation of systematic racism, where it becomes "fact" that if a Black person is involved in a crime, he or she is automatically labeled the bad person, no questions asked, while the White person is the victim. Chris puts his hands up because he knows this to be true, and doesn't want to be seen as the criminal, even though he knows he's innocent.
For many Black people, this is a fact we know to be true, while many White people are just starting to get it. The fact that most of the audiences who watch Get Out hope that it isn't the cops coming to the rescue shows that we are all aware of the racism Black people face, but the fear that Chris feels about being labeled a criminal is only understood by Black people, who have always have felt this way. We know that we will automatically be seen as the "wrongdoers" because of the stereotypes and prejudices people have about us.
Get Out understands what it's like to live your life always on edge if you're Black in America, especially when it comes to interactions with police. Hopefully, people who see Get Out will use the movie as a way to understand the painful cycle of anti-Blackness better than they currently do.