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Justice for Georgina, aka Go See Get Out Immediately


In Get Out, the brilliant new Jordan Peele film, black people are used by white people's brains. 

That's the shortest explanation, as there are so many levels to the movie. I'm typically not one to see scary movies (I can't even get through Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video), but when I read about this movie's perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes and the raving reviews from critics, I had to go and support this film from a black director with black stars.

I'm not a fan of scary movies. They always give me nightmares. Before I saw the film, a coworker assured me that I wouldn't have nightmares after watching Get Out. He was right and wrong. I didn't have nightmares about monsters lurking in dark corners, but I stayed awake unpacking all of the themes and metaphors of the film. In doing so, a big part of why I wasn't afraid occurred to me: These are the fears that black people live with on a daily basis.

In college I was in a very serious relationship with a white man. He took me on a trip out to the country to meet an old family friend. When we arrived they greeted me with open arms and asked me if I needed anything. They went above and beyond to make me feel more than comfortable. As I looked around their home, I spotted dozens of mammy figurines. There were porcelain mammys. There was a set of mammy salt and pepper shakers. There was even a fcking dish towel. Were their words offensive? Never. Nonetheless, I felt extremely uncomfortable. That memory rushed back to me as I watched Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) pass the threshold of Rose's (Allison Williams) childhood home. 

I've read a review about Allison Williams' character that I agree with whole-heartedly. I've also read one about the use of marginalized bodies that was perfect. But I'm still searching for a proper explanation for Georgina (Betty Gabriel). 

Poor Georgina. The first to feel for Chris. The first to attempt to hold back a physical jolt to warn him of the dangers ahead. Georgina: The single female in a long list of Rose's doomed loved ones. 

Women, by nature, are protectors. Georgina was torn by the need to protect her host's family and the need to protect Chris. And Chris was immediately drawn to her. Black men – all men – look to matriarchs for guidance. When his suspicions seeped into reality, Chris – having lost his mother early in life – looked to Georgina for a sign that everything was alright. Part of her brain wanted to warn him, but the host took over. Later in the movie when Chris lifts Georgina from the road and loads her into his getaway car, Rose feels the need to protect her. Georgina has become part of the Armitage family and therefore belongs to Rose now as more than just the help (we learn that's not surprising, considering Georgina's host).  

For me, this brought up so many thoughts. Slave children looking to their mothers for cues on how to act around their masters when they're treated poorly. White children who love and trust their mammies more than their own mothers when they're young. Black women have always been a source of strength, safety and direction. But what happens when a black woman doesn't know which way to go, and doesn't have full control to decide? To me, that was the horror of Get Out. Black women have always been the strong yet predominately silent leaders. Georgina's arrested character scared the shit out of me. 

What was it about Georgina that made Rose's grandmother want her body? 

Was it her beauty? White women have historically mocked and then mimicked black beauty customs and claimed them as their own. Collagen-filled full lips. Fat asses on white reality stars. Cornrows on white girls on Instagram. Skin that ages soft and slow using African shea butter. I get it: Black women are magic. There's the lure of the present yet exotic. It's a covetable characteristic. And we've always been sought after, but with the underlying feeling of something more than jealousy. There's almost a hatred. The stance of "how dare you, a little black girl, be cooler/prettier/funnier/smarter/more stylish than me?"

Perhaps Grandma was also a little jealous of Georgina's cooking skills. Let's face it: for the most part, black women cook our asses off. Maybe Grandma's family recipes were devoid of flavor. In Get Out, Georgina brings the family her delicious sweet tea. She serves them dinner. She bakes an impeccable carrot cake. Maybe Grandma wanted to be beautiful and a better cook. 

There's so much to this movie (the deer, the fire, the police car, the lack of code switching, all of it) but Georgina's story stood out to me the most. People talk so much about the athleticism and strength of the black male and how black men are constantly validated by their skills in that realm. But the discussion about the black female is always secondary. We're used. thrown away and are rarely credited for what we bring to the table.

At the climax of the film, we're put in a place to encourage Chris to leave Georgina's limp body to die. When he makes a classic horror movie misstep and goes back for her, he's punished for it. Don't get me wrong. This film is absolutely incredible, and I look forward to what's next from Jordan Peele. But even in this amazing movie, the (only) black woman doesn't deserve to be saved. We're made to feel for Chris and Andre (Lakeith Stanfield), we see Walter (Marcus Henderson) as a martyr, but there's no call for justice for Georgina. I wouldn't be surprised if that's yet another theme Peele designed into his masterpiece.



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