I have to admit, by the time Get Out was released in theatres, I had already done so much reading about it, that not much about the movie surprised me. As clever, interesting, and necessary as Jordan Peele's first film was, I was somewhat underwhelmed, and I'd like to think that was because the internet had practically revealed the entire storyline before I could even see the film. With this knowledge in mind, I made it a point to see Us in theaters opening weekend so that I develop my own opinion before the masses had the opportunity to thwart my perspective. In conclusion, that opinion is: give Lupita all the awards, damn it!
It was recently announced that Jordan's new film did more than $70 million in the box office, making history as the largest debut of an original horror film in theaters...ever. The record-breaking film is yet another reminder to Hollywood that it's time to start putting some respeck on black narratives. Lupita and her co-stars offered a brilliant performance that will make you realize that most times, you really and truly are your own worst enemy.
What I could appreciate the most about Us was the relatability of The Wilson Family. The main character, Adelaide (played by Lupita Nyong'o), offers a new genre of superhero that we've never seen in film before: a mom desperate to protect her family.
I won't spoil it for you, but you can definitely look forward to a few corny dad jokes, bickering siblings, and some teenage attitude, which are all pretty typical of any family. Although the Wilsons are a quintessential "American" family, there were few nods to the culture in the film that were downright black AF. From Adelaide's husband, Gabe (played by Winston Duke) rocking a Howard sweatshirt, to the ultimate fight scene happening to the tune of an orchestrated version of "I Got 5 On It," Jordan Peele made sure to sprinkle a whole lot of melanin magic into the mix of this creepy horror-themed thriller.
Although I searched (and I mean searched) the film for any metaphors that symbolized racial disparity or injustice, Us tells a much different story. Unlike Get Out, Jordan's new film looks at societal privilege in a different light and has a message that makes us all reflect on our perspective as Americans.
Although I've seen mixed reviews on social media since the movie was released, I can personally say that the film is definitely a bop as well as a major win for the culture. Although, I will say, when the movie ended I couldn't help but think, "WTF just happened?" So I took to the internet to help understand some of the film's key messages that I may have missed, and boy, were there a lot.
For those of us who have seen it, and even for the ones who haven't but want to know what the hype is all about at the risk of peeping a few spoilers, these were a few of my takeaways.
*Disclaimer: Major spoilers ahead!*
Duality & Jeremiah 11:11
The idea of duality is a consistent theme throughout the film. Along with the creepy white man at the beginning and the end of the film, the numbers can also be seen on top of the ambulance in the closing scene, and it is also 11:11 P.M. when the Wilsons are attacked in their home by the tethered. The scripture, Jeremiah 11:11, which is seen many times in the film says this:
"Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them."
In Jeremiah, it is prophesized that sinners who worshipped false idols would be faced with inevitable doom, or "evil" and this can be perceived a few different ways. While some say that Red believes that this scripture is a word from God to lead the Tethered from doom, others have different theories.
Jordan Looked To The King Of Pop For Inspiration
The "real" Adelaide was kidnapped and sentenced to life underground by her ominous double in the '80s, a time when Michael Jackson was wildly popular. Jordan, who called Michael the "king of duality", drew from the late superstar for a much of his inspiration for the film. For example, the "Thriller" t-shirt Adelaide wears at the beginning of the movie shows Micheal's influence on the young girl before she was kidnapped. Red uses his style to design the Tethered's eerie uniforms, complete with a one-hand glove and red jumpsuits, much like MJ's attire in "Thriller". Peele told Mashable:
"Michael Jackson is probably the patron saint of duality. The movie starts in the '80s — the duality with which I experienced him [Jackson] in that time was both as the guy that presented this outward positivity, but also the 'Thriller' video which scared me to death."
Hands Across America
As a true 90's baby, I had no earthly idea what Hands Across America was. After doing some research, although the event was mildly unsuccessful, the '80s nonprofit fundraising effort was dedicated to raising money for the homeless. When Red is left underground with the Tethered, she is left with her Hands Across America shirt, which ultimately inspires masterful her plan.
But, Who Was The Real Villian Tho?
I loved this movie because it made me question myself. The lead character, which I had been rooting for the entire time, was actually the villain. Now ain't that some sh*t? Us is a film that makes you analyze your own perspective and be honest about your findings. When you take a hard look at how the story played out, Red was never the bad guy after all. As major of a mindf*ck as this is, if we started to approach our real lives with this mentality, the world just might be a better place.
Jordan Peele and his cast of badasses told a story that in a way is bigger than racism or sexism. He told an all-American story about the perils of classism, and that may be a harder concept to grasp than anything else.
This film helps us realize that many people we may classify as other, like the homeless, impoverished, and socially unacceptable are really exactly like Us.
Featured image by Universal.