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“Get Out” vs. “Us”

Here’s a short essay I wrote for a film class and felt was worth sharing. Oh and, *SPOILER ALERT*

Jordan Peele’s sophomore film “Us” was understandably highly anticipated after the success of his first film, “Get Out.” “Get Out” was scary, witty and most importantly Black. The entire rollout of the film was intriguing; I remember being unsure if the movie was even real after viewing the trailer for the first time. Fortunately, it was very real and very good. The subtle humor and horror specific to the Black community and all the clues that slowly came together made for a viewing experience that remains uniquely satisfying even two years after the film’s release. Because of this, I along with everyone else I know had high expectations for “Us.” Sadly, those expectations weren’t met.

For me, “Us” was just okay. It lacked the subtle humor of “Get Out” and as a fan of horror films, it definitely wasn’t scary. What’s worst of all, though, is that it was so predictable. I knew from the moment Adelaide saw her doppelganger in the funhouse that the two had been switched. Her inability to talk to or connect with her parents after that night confirmed it for me way before we reached the big “plot twist” at the end. The entire movie I waited for something to shock me and nothing really did. I certainly won’t say it was bad, just disappointing in comparison to “Get Out.” “Get Out” was an engaging ride that kept me thinking the entire film.

More importantly, “Get Out” answered all my questions and connected all the dots before the credits rolled; it even answered questions and connected dots I hadn’t even thought of. “Us,” on the other hand, left far too many questions for my liking. Maybe I’m thinking too practically for a movie but if the government created the tethered wouldn’t they have some kind of defense system in place? Why would the tethered be able to come to the surface so easily that young Adelaide was able to just wander there? What exactly are the rules of when characters can control the actions of their doppelgangers? There were just far too many loose ends for my liking. I understand that sometimes things are purposely left up to the imagination of the audience, but at some point too many unanswered questions are just plot holes.

As one of my classmates mentioned during our discussion, “Get Out” was Peele’s baby that he worked on for years while “Us” clearly got less attention. Again, I don’t think “Us” is a bad movie. The concept was certainly interesting and it features some great cinematography and acting, but it just didn’t live up to “Get Out” for me. In all fairness, though, “Get Out” was a hard act to follow. However, in both films it felt good to see Blackness centered. Even though “Us” wasn’t about race, the family was a Black family who listened to hip-hop on road trips and featured a Howard alumnus father and mother with natural hair. I believe this was a beautiful step towards normalizing Blackness in films that aren’t purely “Black movies.” Jordan Peele’s recent statement that he has no intention of casting a white male lead any time soon has only made me more excited for what he’ll create next.

 

Be the zeitgeist.

Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton, The Biggest Story That Shouldn’t Be a Big Story

It was announced on Monday, March 26 that Virgil Abloh has been named Men’s Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton. Unsurprisingly, the announcement was met with the usual excitement that comes with such news. Virgil Abloh, a Black man from Chicago, has made history by becoming the first ever Black man to hold his new position, that’s a big deal.

But why? Why is it that his success is viewed as such an anomaly that it had to be the biggest news of the day, and likely the week? It’s not as if Abloh isn’t deserving. Whether you’re a fan of his work or not, you have to admit that for over a year now his has been one of the most relevant names in fashion.

Even the simple fact that he’s a Black man should be seen as an advantage rather than a disadvantage when it comes to a career in fashion. However, despite all logic, we’ve convinced ourselves that the fashion industry isn’t a place for Black men to thrive. When you really think about it though, we’ve seen enough examples of successful Black men in fashion to have dispelled that myth long ago.

Willi Smith, Patrick Kelly, Dapper Dan, Virgil Abloh and even Kanye West (among others, of course) have shown that the fashion industry is, in fact, a place for Black men. It’s also worth noting that all of the Project Runway Allstars Season 6 finalists (Anthony Williams, Fabio Costa, Ken Laurence and Stanley Hudson) are Black/Brown men. Despite all of this, there’s still a lack of Black men in fashion.

“I believe there aren’t many Black males in the fashion industry because of the stigma that comes with being in the industry. We don’t allow ourselves to venture outside of the norm so we never do anything but normal shit. There also wasn’t any representation in the fashion industry for the longest times, and that’s by design,” says Javier Cousteau of the Cousteau House of Design.

The argument that the lack of Black men in fashion, and the subsequent lack of faith in Black men that are is due societal norms is one with some merit. Black men often do find themselves in boxes, surrounded by expectations of what they should and should not do. While that entire concept is ridiculous, fashion being in the “should not” category is particularly egregious.

There have been countless proclamations that Black people are the most stylish people in the world, and you’re delusional if you’re still not ready to admit that Black/Brown women living in the ghetto are the source of many fashion trends, yet there still seems to be a belief that there’s no for Black men in the industry.

So at this point, you have to ask yourself why. You have to wonder why we’re still shocked that Black men can do great work in fashion. You have to question why Virgil Abloh’s new position at Louis Vuitton is more noteworthy than any other fashion story of the day. Not because he doesn’t deserve the honor, but because he does.

 

Be the zeitgeist.