Tuesday, April 02, 2019
We Are “Us”
By Raynard Jackson
Two weeks ago, I went to the theater to see Jordan Peele’s latest movie, Us. This was his follow-up movie to the box office hit Get Out.
Peele is an extraordinarily gifted writer. He has written for shows like Mad TV, Key & Peele, The Last O.G., etc.
He won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for his horror movie, Get Out; which was also his directorial debut in 2017.
His latest horror flick, Us, is also receiving rave reviews. It starts off kind of slow, but when it does pick up, you are taken on an emotional rollercoaster ride in the vain of Alfred Hitchcock.
Note to millennials, civilization did not start when yall came out of the womb; nor is Friday the 13th a horror movie; it is simply a blood and guts movie with absolutely no substance to it.
If you want to know what horror movies are, then seeing Get Out and Us is a must!
In this column, I will not give you the typical movie critique, but rather give you a unique observation on Peele and his two hit movies, Get Out and Us.
What Peele is doing is so mind-blowing and so historic, I am truly hoping that he sets off a series of copycat movies; and not for the reason you might think.
Not only is Peele the Alfred Hitchcock of our time; but more importantly, he is the Bill Cosby of our time.
His movies send you on a g-force ridden ride and then drops you back down to that sunken place only to repeat itself again and again, and again.
Just like Hollywood told Cosby that America was not ready for a prime-time Black family that was intact and fully functional; Hollywood, to this day, believes you can’t cast a Black in the lead role of a major movie and have broad appeal that will make money.
Of course, the movie Black Panther destroyed that myth, but Hollywood said that was because it had an African backdrop and was targeting a Black audience. Let’s concede these points for purposes of this column, even though I could dissect this erroneous premise.
Us is a “mainstream” movie with not only a Black lead, Lupita Nyong’o, but she is also extremely black in skin tone.
Hollywood and most Asian countries are still under the ignorant notion that a very dark-skinned person is not as marketable as a fair skin Black like Halle Berry, Regina Hall, or Gabrielle Union.
Nyong’o is joined in the film by 13-year-old Shahadi Wright Joseph, a very cute dark-skinned actress. They both are major characters throughout the film.
In Get Out, the lead actor was Daniel Kaluuya and the main supporting actor was Lil Rel Howery, both very dark-skinned actors.
Kaluuya is of Ugandan heritage and Nyong’o is of Kenyan heritage. So, Peele is not only destroying the myth that Blacks can’t carry a movie, but he is also proving that Africans can also carry a major Hollywood production and still have global appeal while making money.
I am not sure people truly understand how Peele is making global tectonic shifts in how Blacks who have dark skin are viewed. This will have a generational impact on Hollywood.
The other issue no one seems to notice about Us is the Wilson family, which the movie is centered on, is a totally functional Black family. There is absolutely no dysfunctionality in this family. They work professional jobs, don’t use or sell drugs, the daughter is not having sex or is not pregnant, the son is put in check by the father every time he gets out of line.
They are the Cosby family in a horror movie without sacrificing the Cosby family values for marketability purposes. This is a major accomplishment for Peele.
When was the last time you saw a major Hollywood movie that had no sex, very little cursing, no using of the n-word, and absolutely NO promotion of homosexuality?
There was no Trump bashing or Republican trashing. There were no overtly political messages or the promotion of Hollywood liberalism.
Us, truly allowed you to escape, for two hours, the reality of all of your daily cares and to actually be entertained in a way that was truly “escapism.”
If Peele stays true to this type of movie making, I think he single-handedly can change the way Blacks, especially those of a darker hue, are viewed by Hollywood; and ultimately the world.
Yes, Black actors can carry a movie globally and profitably; yes, Blacks can be portrayed in substantive, positive roles; and yes, Blacks do have many functional family units, with mom, dad, and children.
Peele is showing the world that there is a full range of possibilities lying dormant within the Black community. He has chosen to use his platform in the most positive of light; tearing down the tired ole stereotypes that never did properly show who Black folks really were.
This side of the Black community is not an aberration; it is more common than the media or Hollywood will ever show. Peele is simply one of the few Blacks in Hollywood who has chosen to exercise his power for good by showing that “we are Us.”
Raynard Jackson is a Pulitzer Award nominated columnist and founder and chairman of Black Americans for a Better Future (BAFBF), a federally registered 527 Super PAC established to get more Blacks involved in the Republican Party. BAFBF focuses on the Black entrepreneur. For more information about BAFBF, visit www.bafbf.org. You can follow Raynard on Twitter; Raynard1223.