When was the last time you saw an African-American male as the lead in a box-office smash horror film?
It's been awhile, right? The good news is that Get Out grossed $30.5 million in its opening weekend — against a mere $4.5 million budget — and is continuing to get excellent reviews. The film is being recognized as a real turning point in the horror genre, as it's presented us with a horror hero whom we've waited a long time to meet.
Here's why Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) is the perfect horror protagonist for 2017.
He's Always Thinking
From the very beginning, Chris questions whether his girlfriend Rose should have told her parents that he was black. He knows that for some people it may not be a problem, but for some families out there, bringing home a black man is still a big deal.
Even when Rose assures him that everything will be fine, Chris truly never lets his guard down despite ending up in a rather strange situation. Throughout the entire film, Chris is constantly observing the little bizarre things going on around him. He never misses an opportunity to figure out what is really going on!
No Stereotypes Here
Chris feels like an everyman. He's an intelligent, well-spoken photographer who is still fighting demons from his past. He is not written like a stereotypical black character; he's written to be like any other character you would expect to meet in a horror film (although he is a bit smarter than ones we've seen in the past). His race is important to the story's plot, but it does not make a mockery of our lead.
Other filmmakers and film writers should take note. Writing an African-American role is just like writing any other role, because at the end of the day we're just human. There's no need to write "sassy black sidekick" roles anymore, folks! Writing about the everyday happenings of being a black man in America is interesting enough without throwing in a bunch of tacky stereotypes.
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Chris Feels Like You And Me
One of the most brilliant aspects of Jordan Peele's writing is that he clearly wrote Chris to connect with the audience. You don't have to be African-American to understand how Chris feels when he's in danger, because let's face it, fear is universal.
What makes Get Out stand apart from other horror features is that its lead character acts in ways that audiences have been dying to see on screen for years. Although things continue to spiral out of control around Chris, if he even has a moment to take back control of the situation, he takes it. Isn't that extremely refreshing to see, rather than having to watch another teenager run through the woods, trip over nothing and wait to be slaughtered when they clearly had enough time to jump up and run away?
Jordan Peele truly wows us with his first big screen writing venture! He manages to seep a sense of dread into even the funniest of scenes, keeping you engrossed in Chris's bizarre situation from beginning to end. Upon walking out of the theater, one of the scariest realizations I had was that even though the plot line is far out, it still feels like it could happen to me. That's when you know social satire is being done right!
Have you seen Get Out yet? Do you agree Chris Washington is a long overdue protagonist for the horror genre? Let me know in the comments!