Veronica R. Wells
The Deer, Georgina & Jordan Peele On The Importance of Black Women in "Get Out"
Get Out has been in theaters for nearly a month now and still, people are discussing the themes, symbols, and messages, hidden and explicit, in this game-changing film. Naturally, if you haven't seen it, "get thee to a theater." But also, click out of this here post, because we're going to discuss a few things, specifically Black women in the film.
If you've seen the film, which should be all of you at this point, you know that all of the performances are stellar and memorable. But long after I'd left the theater, the face that stayed in my mind, nearly haunting me was Georgina's, played by Betty Gabriel. In addition to the chills her screen presence sent up my spine, the mechanics of her both smiling and crying so convincingly at the same time, will forever be etched in my mind.
By the time I got home and started dissecting the film with my boyfriend, Soils, and sister, Vanessa, I had concluded that Betty Gabriel's performance was my favorite for the simple fact that I couldn't stop thinking about her. Jordan Peele has said that it was his intention to make a movie that people would have to see more than once and though I couldn't put my finger on it, I knew there were clues and messages about Georgina that I had missed.
Slowly, I started reading about them in the thinkpieces people wrote and the videos they recorded.
First, Soils sent me this clip from Nu Mindframe where she discussed the part where Chris goes back for Georgina.
"Also you can see how good of a person he is when he hits the maid by mistake and then he decides to go back and get her. I loved that part too, like I was clapping in the theater. Because it was just so beautiful to see, after her hit that Black woman and she went down, he could have kept going. He could have drove off. But he chose to get out of the car and risk his life for that Black woman. This is unity. This is what we need in the Black community because we have, as Black people, lost our way. In terms of our unity, Black men talking down on Black women and then, in turn, Black women having to defend ourselves and then talking down on Black men. It's ridiculous. So I hope as a race, we can all get back to that point where we are uplifting each other and protecting and respecting the Black woman as Chris did in that movie."
I was amazed that she was able to glean that much after one viewing. But I didn't question her conclusion for a second. Still, there was more to learn about Georgina. I saw the movie again with my parents. My father was equally preoccupied looking for more clues, trying to find and understand the layered meanings in the imagery and action.
That's when we stumbled across Sharice B's piece over at Blavity "Why Georgina Is An Unsung Hero In "Get Out"
Shortly, before we read it, my family and I were trying to figure out if the Armitage family were making their sick and twisted game even more perverse by leading Chris to discover the pictures of Rose and all those Black folk in the cupboard so he could realize that he was to become their next victim. But Sharice's theory was not only likely, it immediately blew my mind, so I knew it was true.
In 'Get Out,' however, I knew what was up when Chris explored beyond the open cubby door in Rose's room. The Armitages were way too clever of a family when it came to successfully abducting black bodies for them to slip up and leave a door open; a door that led to concrete photographic evidence, proving they were a clan of black body-stealing liberals!
*Georgina voice* No, no, no, no, no, no, it was not the innocent Rose that forgot to lock her cubby door the night Chris tried to leave, it was spooky ole Georgina -- and I'm not talking about Grandma Armitage. My theory: With the little power she had to take over her own body for a brief moment, Georgina's true self-managed to open Rose's cubby door wide enough for Chris to notice later on. It was the least she figured she could do and ended up being the greatest thing she could do to help Chris since she couldn't save herself. I honestly feel, that if Chris never found those pictures, he would still ignore his inklings, even after the whole Logan fiasco, and stay with the Armitages where they eventually would succeed in their body swapping procedure yet again.
After Soils read the article, we had to talk about Georgina again. By the end of it, we'd concluded that more often than not, Georgina was presenting as her true self and not Grandma Armitage. She was starting to slip up pouring the iced tea, so Rose's mother had to tap the glass to send her back into the sunken place.
When the family was eating dinner, Georgina was supposed to have come out long ago with dessert. But she had climbed out of the sunken place just enough to render the grandmother paralyzed. I would argue that it was Georgina's rebellious face we saw as she held the cake, staring out at Rose's mother when she entered the kitchen.
Later Soils, asked me: 1.) What do you think of Chris saying 'I think Georgina doesn't want us to be together?' Do you think that was true?
2.) Why do you think Georgina was unplugging his phone?
I answered, "Honestly, my first thought was that it was a commentary on the relationship between Black men and women. Like this Black man is looking at the Black woman as the problem when it's really the White folks in whom he's put his trust in. As many weird things that were going on in that house and he talkin' about Georgina don't want them to be together..."
Lord knows there are the fair share of brothas who are so paranoid about Black women being jealous of their interracial relationships that they can't see that the White women they're riding for, only want them for their bodies and would betray them in a heartbeat when isht hits the fan.
As for the phone unplugging, that was definitely the grandmother trying to keep him from accessing the outside world, which is why she was able to give him an explanation and apology for it after Rose went and told her what Chris said.
Still, Georgina was so strong willed in the sunken place, you have to wonder what more there is to know about her. For all the theories we've enjoyed reading and discussing together, Soils wanted to hear a confirmation from Jordan's mouth. For that reason, I was so geeked to find that not only was Black & Sexy Tv going to be interviewing Peele, they teased the interview with this sentence from the hostess Numa: "I need to know about Chris and his relationship to Black women."
Yes! Me too.
They waited until the last five minutes of the interview to discuss Black women but when they finally got around to us, it was worth the wait.
Numa: I remember when I was reading the script and I read the scene with Georgina at the window admiring herself and Chris seeing her in that moment, not knowing what was going on with her. And it made me think about...is he attracted to her? Do they kind of have this unknown thing? 'Even though I'm here with this White woman, I still have this attraction for you as a Black woman. I'm trying to understand you. I just felt like there were a lot of layers there.
Jordan: It's a great question and I haven't started unpacking that with anyone yet. For me, there's part of this experience Chris being with a White woman, there's this internal fear, to what extent am I denying my Blackness, my family, my roots. It's no mistake that the moment that traumatized him as a kid he didn't show up for his mother. And so there's this feeling of going to this White suburb and entering this White family there's this fear of am I denying myself am I denying my family?
And then, sure enough he meets Logan at the party with an older White woman who is basically treating him like an man servant and Chris is also like, 'Is this the direction, I'm headed?'
So there's a very strong connection with Chris and Georgina and there are several times in the movie where her will is strong enough to break out of the sunken place even for a little moment. And she's just trying to warn him.
Numa: See, we're always down for y'all! We're always down. Even in the sunken place we're like, 'Brotha, I'm in the sunken place but Ima going crawl my way out to try and save you.'
Jordan: It was very important to me to have a strong, Black woman's presence fighting for this cause, even though we never really get to meet her.
So cut to the end, the moment where we're like 'Chris, no don't do it. Don't go back for her.' That was one of the biggest challenges because I knew specifically Black people would be like 'No! Nope! You done okay so far, don't mess it up. You're almost out!' But that was why I wanted to make sure if I was going to have a character do some stupid shit like that, it was for a real emotional reason that we understood. And I planted the whole time, this dude, the one thing he wasn't going to do was leave a Black woman to die.
Numa: It's almost romantic.
Jordan: It is. It's romantic. And I think, in the end if he had made it out scotch free and hadn't gone back for her, he never would have been free.
If you listen carefully, you can hear a woman in the background go, Daaamn.
My sentiments exactly sis.
For those who need it spelled out, Black men y'all ain't never gon' be free until you start looking out for Black women, until you start seeing Black women in the street as your mother, until you realize that there is no true liberation for you without us.
Transcribing Jordan's words, a couple of things stuck out to me that didn't when I just listened to the interview. He said, it was important for him to have a strong Black woman's presence in the movie even if we, the audience who identify most with Chris, never get to meet her. Writing the words out, I thought ain't that it! How many nameless, faceless Black women have fought against all types of oppression to save Black men only to find themselves, erased, forgotten or denigrated by the very men they've fought to save.
But then I thought about the presence of another strong Black woman we never got to see: Chris' mother. From the moment I saw the movie, my sister has been asking me to think about the deer and the symbol of the deer.
It was obvious that the deer represents Black people by the way Dean Armitage speaks about eradicating them. But the way the deer keeps showing up in the movie, I wondered if there was more to it.
There was an article that said Chris was so fascinated and intrigued by the deer Rose hit because it reminded him of his mother being hit by that car and left to die in the street. His connection to the deer propels him to look at the animal dying but it also serves a warning of his own potential destiny if he keeps traveling down this path.
And then there was the deer head hanging on the wall in the room where Chris learns of his fate. It was no coincidence that Chris uses the deer head, the symbol for Black folk, the very thing the Armitages have tried to commodify and dominate, to foil their plan to utilize his body.
And then I took it a step further. The dead deer was also a symbol for the ancestors watching over him and giving him guidance and strength to escape his oppression.
At the time when I sent that text, I thought ancestors referred to our collective, enslaved ancestors. It didn't occur to me that this particular one was closer than that. The deer, both laying on the side of the road and the one used as a weapon were representations of Chris' mother, the strong, unseen Black woman trying to warn him and the same Black woman who did what Georgina couldn't, save him.