Jordan Peele on Writing 'Get Out' During the Obama Administration and a "Post-Racial Lie"

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Jordan Peele

The director was in coversation with Elvis Mitchell during 2017's Film Independent Forum.

Jordan Peele started developing the script for his hit Get Out in 2008, during what he refers to as a "post-racial lie."

"When I was writing this, people were saying, 'Racism is done,'" said Peele, who began scripting the thriller during the beginning of the Obama administration. He contended: "But at the same time, [the President] was being questioned if he was American."

During a conversation with KCRW's Elvis Mitchell at the Directors Guild of America for the Film Independent Forum, Peele talked about the process of creating a social thriller that was accurate to the contemporary black experience.

Get Out follows a black man, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), meeting his white girlfriend's family for the first time at their home in upstate New York, where he discovers a disturbing reality about the family and their suburban community.

"Part of the black identity is the horror of America," said Peele, adding that he wanted his movie to be rooted in the racism that is found in everyday life, as opposed to the hyperbolic bigotry that is often portrayed in Hollywood films. "I thought, what if I didn’t take it to typical type of racism, the white superiority — the Trumpism — but what if it was the other side of that. What if the type of racism that I am exploring is micro-aggression." 

Since its Feb. 24 release by Universal, the Blumhouse production has gone on to gross $253 million on a $4.5 million budget. The film, which was both a commercial and critical success, is receiving early awards buzz, along with Peele, who came to prominence on the Comedy Central series Key & Peele.

Mitchell and Peele discussed how the B-movie horror genre was the perfect vehicle to deliver his social thriller, allowing him the space to subvert tropes of the genre, including one of the "white savior." While gearing up to release the film, Peele worried that the movie would be seen as an intentionally divisive piece of filmmaking.

"The system itself and society is the monster here," he said. "That to me is the thrill of this genre. [Get Out] is a film that explores the horror of society. Human beings and the way we interact is the bad guy."