MTSU Africana Studies program hosts ‘Get Out’ screening, panel

Photo courtesy of IMDB 

Story by KeWana McCallum / Contributing Writer

The Middle Tennessee State University Africana Studies program hosted a screening and panel for the movie, “Get Out,” on Wednesday in the Student Union Building. Louis Woods, an associate professor in history and director of the Africana Studies program, and Michelle Stevens, an MTSU Africana Studies professor and a member of the MTSU professional counseling staff, were the speakers at the panel.  

“Get Out” is a movie about Chris, an African-American man who is meeting his girlfriend’s parents. His girlfriend, Rose, is white. She mentions to him that her parents don’t know that he’s African-American, which worries Chris. When they arrive at Rose’s house, he notices that the servants that work for her parents are all African-American and behave strangely. They talk as if they’re robots and are always watching him.

During the discussion that followed the film, Woods and Stevens discussed symbolism that appeared throughout the movie. There was a particular part of the film where Rose’s family is introduced. They all had some type of red in their outfits, while Chris wore blue. Stevens and Woods described it as the American flag, where African-Americans are a part of America but still separated at the same time.

Paranoia and “spidey-senses” were other topics that were discussed in the panel. Throughout the movie, there were many times where the main character, Chris, would sense that something wasn’t right.

“That paranoia has kept people and ancestry safe,” Woods said. “It’s kind of a racial ‘spidey-sense.’ (It’s) like, ‘This doesn’t feel right.’”

During the times that Chris got those feelings, he would let Rose know, and she would always find a way to reassure him that everything was fine. However, she was constantly deceiving him. He was reeled into Rose’s house and was hypnotized and controlled by her mother. If he hadn’t come up with his escape plan when he did, he would have become a servant just like the others.

The movie shows toward the end how Rose picks who her next victim will be. She based her choices off of the victims being African-American and their strengths, such as sports or photography. It shows Rose as being more of a predator to the men that she dates. She reels them in and makes them victims of her family’s scheme. 

“I have to say that there is a very male perspective,” Stevens said. “It was very stereotypical. Rose being seductive and all of this. That can also be translated to women in general.”

Both speakers talked about how the movie tied into the history of African-Americans.

“Enslavement has been legal 94 years longer than it has been illegal,” Woods said. “The concept of bodies being stolen against (their) will and then having auctions added to some of that terror (conjures) up some of that broader history.”

Stevens discussed how the racial inequality and paranoia that is displayed in the film can psychologically affect some African-Americans. 

“We’re talking about trauma now,” Stevens said. “What’s happening around us now is a state of perpetual trauma. This stuff is not going away.”

To contact News Editor Andrew Wigdor, email newseditor@mtsusidelines.com.

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