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.
Taylor "Pretty" Honore is a spiritually centered and equally provocative rapper from Baton Rouge, Louisiana with a love for people and storytelling. You can probably find me planting herbs in your local community garden, blasting "Back That Thang Up" from my mini speaker. Let's get to know each other: @prettyhonore.
When Megan Thee Stallion dropped “Hiss,” a shift happened. From the audacious lyrics to the striking visuals, there was no doubt that the song and video would go viral. The opening of the video shows the H-town hottie rocking a barely there Shibari red dress, showing off her voluptuous frame. It was a sexy moment created by Timeekah Murphy of Alani Taylor. The designer exclusively tells us how the opportunity came about and what it was like seeing her design on Megan for the first time.
xoNecole: How did the opportunity to create such an iconic look for Megan Thee Stallion's "Hiss" video come about?
Timeekah Murphy: The opportunity came from a DM from celebrity stylist Zerina Akers. She asked for a unique Shibari piece for Megan, and I needed to get it done in two days. So, of course, I did everything in my power to make it happen. I've always wanted to design for Megan, so this was an awesome opportunity for me.
xoN: What was that initial feeling of seeing the dress on her for the first time?
TM: I was shocked because, at first, I thought it hadn't been used. I saw Megan's last video and thought, damn, maybe it didn't fit. So, to see it on such an amazing video was breathtaking. I was beyond excited to finally say I designed for her.
xoN: Did you meet her? If so, how was that moment?
TM: I didn't meet Megan during the shoot, but during my time in LA, I got the opportunity to meet her at LA Pride with Tiffany Haddish, Common, and EJ King (stylist). Megan is such an amazing person, so it made it even better to know that my designs were going to be worn by her. I was shocked because, at first, I thought it hadn't been used. I saw Megan's last video and thought, damn, maybe it didn't fit. So, to see it on such an amazing video was breathtaking. I was beyond excited to finally say I designed for her.
"I was shocked because, at first, I thought it hadn't been used. I saw Megan's last video and thought, damn, maybe it didn't fit. So, to see it on such an amazing video was breathtaking. I was beyond excited to finally say I designed for her."
xoN: Walk us through the creation of the dress. How did you come up with the look, and how long did it take to make it?
TM: I was the co-designer for a brand called Deviant in 2018-2020, and we used to make custom Shibari pieces. That's how Zerina knew me. So I'm very familiar with making these types of pieces. We made plenty for Beyoncé, Cardi B, Tiffany Haddish, Tyra Banks, and so many others. So Zerina knew exactly what she wanted.
To get it done, it took me a day and a half. It's very intricate and time-consuming, so I spent about six hours making it then I sent an image of it to Zerina, and she didn't approve the first one, so I had to start from scratch again after getting my guidance and understanding of what was needed. The next day, I went to The Lab and created another version, and she approved it. I had to get it shipped overnight so that she would get it in time and fast forward to seeing it on the big screen.
xoN: What's next for you?
TM: Everything. The sky is not my limit, so the Alani Taylor brand is expanding into so many different avenues. We are getting involved in the community more, offering sewing classes to the youth. I've opened up a store for my brand in Atlanta and now preparing for fall/winter Fashion Week.
Megan Thee Stallion "Hiss" video/ YouTube
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Whoever coined the phrase, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” certainly was not referring to the state of our dating scene. Whether online or in real life, you don't have to go far to hear the grievances of singles calling for the immediate repair of all leaks, cracks, and fractures in the dating pool.
No matter the state you live in, your age, how much you earn for a living, or if you’re a chronic app dater, there’s a general consensus that something (anything) must be done to restore the hope of singles looking for long-term, fulfilling relationships. And as many of us hold on to the hope for an unexpected cross-encounter with our next love story, others are leaning on the side of giving up completely. But before throwing in the towel, it might be time to make a few adjustments.
Dating Apps Are In Their Flop Era, Making Connections IRL Is Where It's At
Alistair Berg/Getty Images
Many singles agree that spending their leisure time swiping through dating apps is out. What’s in is stepping out of one's comfort zone to make connections in the real world. Scary. We know. But unless you were one of the lucky few to find love on dating apps before its flop era or made a love connection from home during the pandemic, going about your dating life the same way is bound to render the same results: being single with a headache. And we want better for you.
It’s safe to say that constantly meeting strangers off the internet for a chance to find love has lost its charm, leaving singles open to the train, farmer’s market, the gym, or a friend’s house party to be prime real estate for matching up with potential partners.
This shift, as Marissa Nelson, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and BLK’s Relationship and Intimacy Expert tells xoNecole, is due in part to a growing concern about the authenticity of online profiles — in other words: is what you’re seeing, in fact, what you’re getting? “From their profile picture, what they say they do, the height they say they are; it’s this fear of, ‘Am I really talking to who I think I'm speaking to?'” she explains.
On our journey to finding “the one” out in the real world, a common question is, “Where do you find the available singles?” The short answer is, everywhere. The long answer is at the grocery store, on a plane, during happy hours, at work, at a conference, on a solo vacation, or, as Nelson puts it, anywhere you are showing up as your most open and vulnerable self.
“You never know where the connection is going to come from, which is why it's even more important to be receptive, to stay open, be curious, and lean into your vulnerability,” she says. In fact, Nelson encourages singles to release themselves of the rigidity around finding the perfect person at the “perfect” place, because, in essence, there isn’t one. “We have to let go of the constraints that we can only go to singles events to meet people,” she says. “We have to be open to however love shows up.”
"We have to let go of the constraints that we can only go to singles events to meet people. We have to be open to however love shows up."
We all can relate to the fact that the idea of shooting our shot in real life is a lot more exciting than the actual act. The relationship expert explains that one of the greatest hesitations to us putting ourselves out there and taking a chance on love is rooted in the fear of rejection. However, it’s important to keep in mind that “we’ve all been hurt” and most importantly, “we’re all afraid of rejection.”
That’s why Nelson suggests the following strategies to make the first move and find love in your everyday life.
1. Don't close yourself off.
“When you relax your expectations, you start to meet really cool people. Some of those cool people became friends and that makes your life richer because now, you have new friends and great people to hang out with. Even if it wasn't a love match, it can become a significant or meaningful friendship.”
2. Don't let your "type" hold you back.
“We all have a type. And a lot of women will say, ‘I like them tall. I like them like this or that.’ When we’re rigid about who we believe we ought to be with versus being open to people who might be more aligned with our values, we close ourselves off. Sure, you're not going to date somebody that you are absolutely not attracted to. But people have a lot of unwritten rules around who they will allow themselves to get to know, and I challenge people to challenge their rules because that can hold you back from expansive experiences.”
3. Make the first move.
“I think that if we can be bold, be brave, and if there's somebody that's good-looking, catches your eye, or just seems like they have a good vibe, we can approach them with curiosity. Ask them how they're doing. Introduce yourself. It doesn't have to lead to all these things; you can just have chemistry and flow from there.”
4. Ask better questions.
“When you meet someone for the first time, asking them ‘What do you do?’ is not the best first question because that only tells you what they do for money, not necessarily what they're passionate about. To get insight into who that person truly is, ask: What are you passionate about in your life right now? What lights you up? What excites you? What are you working towards?”
5. Shift your mindset.
“We've all been hurt. And we can be guarded because we don't want to get hurt again. The brain is a very complex and brilliant system designed to keep us safe, and emotional survival is a real thing. We become super protective, and in that, we come up with a lot of different rules, paradigms, [and] belief systems. The biggest mindset shift is: how can we do our own work to know and believe that we are worthy and deserving of love.”
Whether you’re on a dating app or roaming your local Trader Joe’s, love is everywhere — and the abundance of love is available to us once we remove limiting beliefs that make it feel scarce and out of reach. Vulnerability, shedding our walls, and openness just might be the tweaks we need to snitch up the dating streets and watch it heal for the better.
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Featured image by LeoPatrizi/Getty Images