Illustration by Alyazia Alremeithi

The Horror is Real: NYUAD Reflects on the Sociopolitics of Get Out

“It’s scary, it’s sad — and not because of the gore. It’s scary because of how plausible the systematic manipulation of people is.”

Nov 10, 2018

(Editor's note: This piece was originally published in issue 145 but is included in our new issue #BlackLivesMatter to highlight the voices and experiences of Black members of our community.)
On the evening of Nov. 7, NYU Abu Dhabi students and faculty members gathered at the Arts Center for a film screening of Get Out, a critically-acclaimed horror-thriller written and directed by Jordan Peele. The screening, organized by NYUAD’s Office of Spiritual Life and Intercultural Education in conjunction with Essential Cinema, was followed by a long discussion on the sociopolitical relevance of the film, particularly its disturbing portrayal of racism in the United States today.
The plot follows the experience of Chris, a young black man, as he meets his white girlfriend Rose’s parents and family for the first time. The film begins with a genteel facade of Rose’s parents accepting the interracial relationship, but moves toward more subtle hints of racism, before eventually descending into sheer madness and brutal violence.
“For some, the horror comes when you realize he’s being hypnotized, or that he’s been auctioned off, or when the actual physical violence happens to him in the last 20 minutes of the film,” said Dr. Alta Mauro, Director of SLICE. “But for many of us, there’s horror in the very early scenes, when I felt like ‘I can see where this is going and therefore I already know to call this horror.’ I watched it from a certain vantage point — wanting Rose to intervene but at the same time knowing she won’t.”
Most people attending the screening had already seen Get Out but attended the event mainly for the discussion that followed, which was moderated by Mauro and Dale Hudson, Associate Professor of Film and New Media. More than a cinematographic exploration of the movie, the conversation served as a space for students to share their painful accounts of racism and the ways in which systemic oppression continues to impact their lives.
“The horror is in how the inspiration for this movie stems from the everyday experience of black people,” said NYU New York student Yoali Tchuenbou, Class of 2018, “from being laughed at for our paranoia and cautiousness around white people, fear of dating outside our race, being admired solely for our bodies and physical abilities.”
“The film shows how racism is not always explicit or overt such as in times of slavery, but that it has taken a new face and continues to be rooted in the system,” added Ivy Akinyi, Class of 2021.
“It’s scary, it’s sad — and not because of the gore. It’s scary because of how plausible the systematic manipulation of people is. It’s scary because even when Rod went to the police to connect the dots, even the authorities laughed. There’s real reason to be fearful, to be skeptical about the safety of your body and your mind when you’re not white,” said Mauro.
One of the highlights of the event was that many in the audience were unfamiliar with the racial context in the United States. For those students, the discussion served as a space to gain a better understanding of allyship and insight into the challenges of everyday acts of discrimination.
“The event really helped [to] understand everyone’s perspectives,” reflected Tchuenbou. “It provided a space for those affected by racism to share their thoughts and experiences, while also making room for others of a different race and background to express their thoughts and questions.”
Only by learning about each other’s history of injustice can we strive to challenge the very systems that continue to oppress minorities, not only in the United States, but in transnational contexts as well.
“The power of understanding a unified oppressive experience is that maybe we could work together to dismantle the system, but if we’re not aware of how our systems are connected, what impetus do we have to cooperate and ally with each other?” asked Mauro.
Reflecting on the larger implications of Get Out, Mauro criticized the absurdity of the All Lives Matter rebuke to Black Lives Matter.
“It’s like a person’s house is on fire, and while they’re out asking for help, a neighbor is spraying a water hose on their house that is not on fire. And the neighbour is like ‘all houses matter.’ But like ‘Right, but your house is not on fire!’” explained Mauro.
“Yes, all lives matter, but not all lives are under siege. Black Lives Matter is a call for equity and attention to be paid in places where there has been historic, systemic and therefore contemporary inequality and oppression. Let’s redress that. Once we do so successfully, then we may be in a position where we can talk about equality, but right now we’re not.”
Get Out serves as a painful and horrific reminder of the extent to which we’re still not.
Kaashif Hajee is Opinion Editor and Laura Assanmal is Deputy Opinion Editor. Email her at
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