If you've ever seen Get Out — first-time director Jordan Peele's satirical horror movie — then it probably doesn't take much to convince you that the film is not a comedy. The twisted racial play on Guess Who's Coming To Dinner? screams "horror" more than anything else, so it's difficult to understand why Get Out is nominated as a comedy at the 2018 Golden Globes.
On Dec. 11, it was announced that Get Out was nominated for two Golden Globe awards, including Best Picture — Musical/Comedy, and Best Actor for star Daniel Kaluuya. On Nov. 14, Entertainment Weekly confirmed that Get Out's production company Blumhouse and distributor Universal, was submitted in consideration as a comedy at the 2018 Golden Globe Awards. (Bustle reached out to Universal and Blumhouse for comment on the comedy designation and has not yet heard back.)
Peele said the following in a statement to Deadline, published on Nov. 17:
The most rewarding part of making “Get Out” is the conversations the film has inspired. When I originally heard the idea of placing it in the comedy category it didn’t register to me as an issue. I missed it. There’s no category for social thriller. So what? I moved on. I made this movie for the loyal black horror fans who have been underrepresented for years. When people began standing up for my voice, it meant a lot. “Get Out” doesn’t just belong to me any more, now it belongs to everyone. The reason for the visceral response to this movie being called a comedy is that we are still living in a time in which African American cries for justice aren’t being taken seriously. It’s important to acknowledge that though there are funny moments, the systemic racism that the movie is about is very real. More than anything, it shows me that film can be a force for change.
At the end of the day, call “Get Out” horror, comedy, drama, action or documentary, I don’t care. Whatever you call it, just know it’s our truth. The movie is definitely clever and eye-opening, but, comedic? Does nervous laughter count? Sure, give credit where credit is due: as far as smart, well-timed quips are concerned, Get Out certainly delivers. After all, Peele's slapstick panache in comedy series like Key & Peele and MadTV is sort of his claim to fame. Or it was, at least — before he made Get Out. But, as those who've experienced it could probably tell you: In spite of Get Out's one-liners, the film throttles its viewers with such an acutely troubling combination of horrified disbelief and leery familiarity for the duration of its run (the kind that lingers long after you've left the movie theater) that it can't possibly be a comedy. At least, not in the traditional sense of the word.
"'Get Out' is a documentary," Peele tweeted on Nov. 15, seemingly making light of the situation.
So, why, then, will Get Out compete for Best Comedy or Musical at the upcoming Golden Globe Awards? It's not a trick question. But, to all the media consumers out there who've felt the impact of Get Out — beyond just its entertainment value — it does seem like a weird choice.
Sure, give credit where credit is due: as far as smart, well-timed quips are concerned, Get Out certainly delivers. After all, Peele's slapstick panache on comedy TV series like Key & Peele and MadTV is sort of his claim to fame. Or it was, at least — before he made Get Out. Perhaps the Hollywood Foreign Press Association classified Peele's film in the comedy category based on his previous credits? There's also the possibility that Universal wanted to give Get Out a better shot at winning trophies and thought it more likely happen in the comedy category, a theory that many Twitter users thought could be behind the decision.
But, as those who've experienced it could probably tell you: In spite of Get Out's one-liners, the film throttles its viewers with such an acutely troubling combination of horrified disbelief and leery familiarity for the duration of its run (the kind that lingers long after you've left the movie theater) that it can't possibly be a comedy. At least, not in the traditional sense of the word.
That's not such a difficult perspective to get behind, given the film's subject matter. For those who haven't yet seen it, Get Out follows the grisly events of a weekend spent in a White suburban town. When black photographer Chris Washington (played by Daniel Kaluuya) agrees to accompany his white girlfriend, Rose Armitage (Allison Williams), home for a family event, he's prepared for the routinely uncomfortable series of weird, racist micro-aggressions that will inevitably at the hands of her very, very White parents. But what he's met with (in addition to the weird, midly racist micro-aggressions) is more of a psychotic, psychological funhouse than anything else. As it turns out, the eerily toothy-grinned Armitages spend most of their free time inflicting perverse mind-control tactics on their black visitors mostly as a means of stripping them of all mental and physical autonomy — but also partially as a means of subjecting them to domestic servitude.
Get Out deals with many serious issues and Peele shed a bit more light on the potentially damaging situation of a "comedy" designation when he initially responded to the news in an interview with IndieWire, published on Nov. 15. "We don't want our truth trivialized," he said. "The label of comedy is often a trivial thing. The real question is, what are you laughing at?"
And that really seems to be the kicker here. Because, satirical overtones or not, giving the "comedy" designation on a film like this mostly just feels inappropriate. And, while the Golden Globes' musical/comedy category is notorious for its interesting inclusions (remember The Martian?), the stakes, in this case, seem to be quite a bit higher.
Because, whichever way you spin it, racism just isn't funny. It isn't funny in any one of its guileful iterations, and it especially isn't funny in this film. Or, at least, it shouldn't be.