I was watching Spike Lee’s “Malcom X” for the first time in many years. And I kept thinking to myself: “Malcom X might have been right!”
As a kid, you’re taught that Martin Luther King’s dream of integration is a utopia, while Malcom X’s vision of a separate and superior black society is fanatical and wrong.
But Dr. King won, and it’s not entirely clear whether black America won as a result.
Integration into our schools has led to lower quality education. Integration into our society has led to the dissolution of the black family. Integration into our economy has made black workers the primary victims of globalization.
It hardly seems farfetched to theorize that Malcom X was right when he urged his brothers to stay away from the white man’s world and the white man’s poisons. It hardly seems like bad advice to heed Malcom X’s warning that all white people are devils.
But we aren’t all actually devils. Are we?
“Get Out” is a black culture class that people actually want to take. It’s an exploration of how it feels to be a black man integrated into white America but never really part of it.
“Get Out” is 2/3 horror, 1/3 comedy, and 100% amazing.
Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) is our victim. He’s a moderately successful New York City artist who wrongly thinks that his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) is not a white devil. He is mistaken.
Chris agrees to go with Rose to visit her parents’ house in a quiet town upstate. “Come on, Chris,” Rose purrs. “I’d tell you if my parents were racist.”
No she wouldn’t.
Rose’s parents are rich, friendly, and progressive. “I would’ve voted for Obama for a third term,” Rose’s father proclaims. That proves nothing, Chris; get out!
Those who have watched the Comedy Central sketch show “Key and Peele” already knew that Jordan Peele is ridiculously talented. With “Get Out,” Peele has outdone himself. “Get Out” is a blockbuster thriller with the brains of an arthouse drama.
Peele’s most obvious point is that the United States is still an uncomfortable place for a black man. And the only thing more frightening than a racist redneck is a friendly guy who won’t admit that he is racist. Because that guy is a racist AND he is delusional.
Peele’s more subtle point is that integration into the white man’s world is not a goal that you want to achieve. If you successfully integrate, you’ll always be a second class citizen, anyway. And you will lose an important part of yourself in the process.
The White Devil’s greatest trick was convincing us that he doesn’t exist. “Get Out” calls him out in an unforgettable way. Malcom X would approve.