Afrofuturism in Jordan Peele's film "Get Out."

Date of Event



Afrofuturism in Jordan Peele's film "Get Out."

Brief Description

Jordan Peele's "Get Out" is a revolutionary film that depicts a Black protagonist in the Horror Noire genre. The film falls within the the afrofuturist cannon because of its role reversals and the way in which Peele subtly addresses racial trauma and the legacy of slavery in a horror story.

Extended Description

Afrofuturism is an extremely broad and complex term that academics and experts alike can’t seem to agree on in terms of a universal definition. The term takes aspects from the past, present and future with intersectional themes that touch on tradition and innovation and tie in subtly, or not so subtly to the day-to-day black experience. This is a very broad explanation of what afrofuturism is. Afrofuturism also has numerous subcategories; one of these subcategories include black “horror noire” or and “enthogothic.” The enthogothic“uses fantasy and horror idioms to analyze issues from the past and its connection to issues around racial and social identity” (Jennings 251). So technically enthogothic styles are a theme of afrofuturism because it is a way to explore racial issues in the realm of horror noire. Unlike afrofuturism, and its concern about the future, horror noire focuses more on the past. Jennings says, “Enthogothic looks at the black experience as a “haunted” experience that is trapped in a state of perpetual trauma due to the lack of interest in America to truly deal with specter of slavery” (251). It “exorcises” trauma of the past by using the arts as a form of expression. Jordan Peele's masterpiece "Get Out," is not only a clear representation of horror noire, but it is also representative of the afrofuturist cannon because it subtly addresses issues of racial inequality and trauma stemming from slavery.

Traditionally, Black actors have only played two stereotypical roles in horror films. One of the roles is called the “monstrous other”, a term used by Dr. Qiana Whitted. She describes the role as, “keeping with centuries-old traditions of racist caricature that comics share with other forms of popular culture" (Bitter Truths).Jennings describes it as multivalent disruptive tensions between the construction of memory, history, the present, and the self. The monstrous other could be a depiction of a Black person in a negative, threatening, or traditional light, that is purely based on racial stereotypes. This stereotypical role stems back to a fear of Black people produced by a lack of understanding on the behalf of white people creating films. Another role traditionally played by Black actors in the horror genre is the sacrificial lamb. Often, Black actors in the horror movie either die first or die trying to save a white person who stars in that particular film. Prior to Jordan Peele’s movie, there have been very few Black directors who could change this pattern. What Peele did was not only revolutionary for the horror genre, but also for the afrofuturist genre.

In "Get Out," the protagonist Chris is dating a white woman who invites him to spend time with her family in a rural, upper class, white setting. Once the pair arrive things immediately seem to feel off. Chris eventually catches on to the strange happenings that are occurring. The family is auctioning Black people, who they have kidnapped and brainwashed, to rich [white] bidders. They take their bodies and place their own brains in the Black people’s, as if they were vehicles. The movie brings a lot of parallels to slavery in a way that is very unsettling to the viewer. By Peele making parallels to slavery, he is clearly representing afrofuturism in the genre horror noire because he is subtly dealing with the trauma Black people experience due to the legacy of slavery. Where Peele differentiates himself from other horror film directors is his use of his protagonist. In a dramatic twist, just as Chris (the protagonist) is about to kill his white girlfriend, a cop car pulls up flashing its lights. As a viewer, you see a Black man standing over a white woman with cop lights flashing, you think about police brutality against African Americans. It is hard to think that he’ll survive the encounter. Again, Peele is brilliantly tying in black trauma into this scene, furthering the afrofuturistic theme. However, the lights stop flashing, and Chris’ goofy best friend comes busting out with a humorous joke.

Jordan Peele’s Get Out is truly a revolutionary movie not only in the realm of horror, but also for all Black actors. There was a clear reversal of roles in the film that hadn’t really been explored by any movie directors. Peele wanted to ruffle some feathers by having a Black protagonist reversing roles. Peele constantly tied in parallels to real world trauma that African Americans not only faced in the past but also present day. For these reasons, the film most definitely accomplished Peele’s vision of having far-reaching plot that goes against all previous social norms that had surrounded the genre of horror. Not only was the film groundbreaking, but the concepts developed by Peele do fit in the lens of afrofuturism.

Jennings, John. Scratching at the dark: A Visual Essay on Enthogothic. 2017.

Walker, D. F., Brown, C., & Greene, S. (2020). Bitter Root. Paris: Hi Comics.

Student creator name(s)

Noah Schott

Item sets