A Free Screening of “Get Out” Made Me Hate Black People
Hate is a strong word. Also “people” is a bit misleading…it was really just one person. (No spoilers)
Quick backstory: I sometimes find tickets to screenings in New York City through a website that collects and shares such opportunities with commoners (read: non-reviewers) via Twitter and Facebook. This particular screening for Jordan Peele’s new horror film “Get Out” was free (first red flag) and in Times Square at night on President’s Day (second, third, and fourth red flags), but it has been at the top of my “must-see” list since last year so I couldn’t not go. I got in line around 5pm, the screening was scheduled to start at 7pm, and they let us in a half hour early to get our seats and snacks. Everything was fine, until she started.
Before the film, the woman in the seat directly behind me had some choice words for (but not to) the concessions staff who sold her a pizza and didn’t warn her about its size. She talked loudly at her friends for 10 full minutes about how she was scammed out of $15 and how the tiny slices would not be “enough for my fat ass.” She was also kicking my seat. As someone who has lived in New York City for about six years, neither of these offenses were enough to deter me from seeing the movie, which at the time of this draft is sitting pretty at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Also the theater was packed, so I couldn’t switch seats if I wanted to.
Fast forward a bit and we are welcomed to the screening by someone with a Universal “Staff” badge, given the quick spiel about turning off and not checking cell phones, and the film starts. By the time Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend (Allison Williams) share their first on-screen kiss, I am regretting my decision to see this movie for the first time under the aforementioned red-flag circumstances. There are widespread laughs as Rose declares that her parents are not racist… and a sarcastic “hmm” from my hungry friend behind me.
As the movie continues, there are your standard outbursts and tension-relieving laughs from the audience during jump scares and after legit jokes (of which there are many), but as Chris gets in deeper with the suburban Armitage family, Pizza Woman becomes more vocal. Her reactions to the family, the relationship, supporting characters, and the events of the film come in paragraphs. Instead of the usual “Oh shit!” or “What was that?,” Pizza Woman’s voice drowns out chunks of dialogue with “Uh uh. What the fuck is wrong with him? He better leave now, for real!” Some people laugh, which only encourages her to keep going. To be honest, the communal experience is fun for a while, until it isn’t.
Here is probably a good time to mention that I’m Black, and so is Pizza Woman, and so are most of the people in attendance at this free screening. This is only relevant because of the important subject matter of the film and the fact that Pizza Woman’s comments went beyond the stereotypical (but 100% accurate) notion that Black people like to talk back to movies. When shit starts to go down (I want to avoid all spoilers for what is actually a very smart, tense, funny, and entertaining horror film so I won’t say what she was reacting to), Pizza Woman becomes uglier than on-screen antagonists, yelling things like “That’s what you get for fucking with a White bitch,” “Fuck that bitch and her Black fetish,” and “Maybe next time you’ll find a Black girl and stop fucking with those White bitches.”
I felt embarrassed and ashamed for Pizza Woman by the end credits, but also selfishly pissed that even though I plan to pay to see it again, I will probably always associate “Get Out” with that very negative experience. But maybe that’s what I get for being cheap, or for fucking with these White women.