Writer, aspiring sociologist, and community organizer Anthony J. Williams discuss the many levels of Jordan Peele’s writer-director debut.
Follow Anthony on Twitter: @anthoknees
Further reading on Get Out
The Most Overlooked & Underrated Characters in ‘Get Out’ Are Black Women
Why ‘Get Out’ Reignites My ‘Single White Female’ Syndrome
Get the Fuck Outta Here: A Dialogue on Jordan Peele’s GET OUT
‘Get Out’ and the Villain Next Door
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Oh, and here’s a full transcription of the episode!
SHAUN: Hello and welcome to ‘No, Totally!’, this is a weekly conversation about movies and other important things, my name is Shaun, this week we are going to discuss the film Get Out, which is currently out in theaters, and to do so I have a guest with me. His name is Anthony J. Williams – he is a writer, aspiring sociologist and community organizer. Anthony, how you doin’?
ANTHONY: I’m doing well, Shaun. Thank you for inviting me on. How you doin’?
SHAUN: Absolutely. I’m doing well, uh… I am very excited to live in a world where this movie exists.
ANTHONY: (emphatic) Yes.
SHAUN: After walking out of the theater, I saw it last week, Thursday? So about four days ago. And, yeah. There’s just a glow about me, because of the existence of this movie. Uh, let me just give people a few details here – this was written and directed by Jordan Peele, I believe it is his directorial feature film debut, he also wrote on Keanu, so I believe this is his second credited film as a writer. It stars uh… oh. I didn’t look up how to pronounce the main dude, do you know how to pronounce his name?
ANTHONY: I don’t, that’s one of those names I’m not sure of.
SHAUN: Yeah. I’m gonna say…Daniel Kalooyah [Daniel Kaluuya]? Uh, only because I grew up in Hawaii so normally I’d pronounce this ‘Kahloo-ooya’, but I don’t think that this is a native Hawaiian last name, he plays the main character Chris Washington, Allison Williams plays his girlfriend, you have Catherine Keener in there, Bradley Whitford, uh, kind of a sparse cast, and…let’s see. Let me throw this to you, because usually my co-host does this, but if someone asked you to kind of give the log-line for this movie, just kind of describe what happens in it, how would you do that?
ANTHONY: Mmmm…I would have to say that it is ah…the seemingly exaggerated but not at all exaggerated experience of living as a black man within this white supremacist nation known as America.
SHAUN: Nice. Okay. Uh…and no, I think that – that immediately gets us into, a lot of different things because the way that IMDB describes it, for instance, has almost none of the words that you used.
ANTHONY: (laughs) Surprise surprise.
SHAUN: Let me read this, “a young African-American man visits his Caucasian girlfriend’s mysterious family estate.” So, uh, let’s jump right in to the idea that this film can mean so many different things, first of all. This is ostensibly a horror movie, a suspense movie, I think it does both of those things very well. But as you mention it is…it’s a social metaphor, a social message, it’s all of that stuff wrapped into the horror film that it is.
Talk to me about – how do I even phrase this? Talk to me about kind of, approaching this film and seeing it I guess operate on these multiple different levels. I’m making the assumption here that when you saw the movie, that it did operate on these multiple levels.
ANTHONY: Yes, yes.
SHAUN: Let me just step back and ask, is that accurate?
ANTHONY: It did, it did. Yeah. For me, with that film – so, I didn’t want to see it. Full disclosure. I was like, I saw the trailer I was like, it’s about this black dude with a white woman and her white family, and it just read to me as like, racial trauma. And it was just like, I don’t need this in my life. I’m good. I experience this in my life daily.
ANTHONY: Um so I was like, I don’t need to see it. And so, watching it, I went with my partner and he’s a black man, and then I went with my housemate who’s a Chicano woman, and we talked during the theater a little bit – not too much, but it’s one of those films where you talk back to the film a little bit.
SHAUN: (laugh) Right.
ANTHONY: And it did operate on all these different levels, and I think it was really – the way I’ve been thinking about it is that like, Jordan Peele I think created something brilliant. And like, I don’t use that word very often, but like I do think it’s really magical because it, it plays with a lot of the horror and thriller tropes, and it does it through this like social thriller lens. And I think that a lot of the things, when I say it’s a not so exaggerated film? I don’t think Jordan whose wife is quote unquote Caucasian or white, I don’t think he would say that. Cause I’ve been reading interviews with him, and it sounds like he thinks it’s a really big leap, right? It’s this big caricature. And I’m like, nah…I know them. Like, I know those people in that film.
SHAUN: Yeah. Wait a minute, I did not realize that Jordan Peele has been saying that, because I felt that one of the strengths of the film is that if anything, it’s kind of understated. (laugh)
ANTHONY: Yeah, well and so – you’d have to, I mean don’t quote me but it was an LA Times article I was reading I believe where he – someone asked the question of like ‘how did you make the white folks so evil?’ and he was saying well, it’s a thriller film, like he cracked a joke but then he’s saying, it’s a thriller film so you always like take it to the extremes. And I was like, that wasn’t the extremes. Like you could have gone so much further, because that like…
I don’t know, how much do we want to get into this without spoiling it, Shaun?
SHAUN: Oh let’s, let’s spoil the hell out of it.
ANTHONY: Okay, so the scene where Allison Williams’s character Rose is going through – well, when Daniel, you know the actor. What was the name in the film, Chris?
SHAUN: Chris, yeah.
ANTHONY: When he’s going through that box of Rose’s things and he finds the collection of black people, right? He finds this collection of Allison, this like lily-white woman who, if you’ve seen her on Girls, can be kind of ** right?
ANTHONY: She’s, even in real life she’s the daughter of a well known man, I believe he does weather…he’s a news correspondent I believe.
SHAUN: He is..anchor for…formerly for NBC I believe.
ANTHONY: Yeah, and so like when you see this, it’s like nothing…it reminds me when I went on this date with a white guy. And I was like, I don’t know, 19? And then he showed me his Grindr at one point, and he had Grindr premium. And this was back when we didn’t have all the Tinders and Squirts and all these new ones that we have for like straight folks and for queer folks? So Grindr was like The One outside of Jacked. And he had the premium one which you pay a bit extra for. And all of the ones that he had starred were ALL black men. And he was this white dude from Wisconsin and he went to Stanford, and he was a…great fellow in general, right? I often find that some of the most benevolent racists like are, they’re great, they’re fine, they’re kind. But they grew up with this programming, right? And so to see like that box of black men and then just one black woman, it was like, oh goddamn. Like that wasn’t…it was like a sink in my stomach, but it also was not at all shocking. Because there are a lot of folks who collect us, right? Um, and as an Asian American – like, you and I have talked about this on Twitter – there’s a lot of fetishization of us, and our bodies. In different ways, I’m black and you’re Asian right, but it happens. And it happens to where either they hate us, or they love us so much that that’s all they want, right?
ANTHONY: And it’s such a strange thing. And so for me again, to loop back round to what we were originally saying when I read that interview, and again don’t quote me I didn’t pull it up. I should’ve. It was, it seems that he doesn’t think he took it – it seems like he took it to an extreme, rather than him taking it to what it feels like in life and then going above and beyond, you know?
SHAUN: Right. That scene in particular, the idea of collecting black bodies, which of course is mirrored through what they actually end up doing. I forget what the program is called, but they have a name for this process where they are transferring essentially white brains into black bodies. This idea of the collection of black bodies as somehow denoting equality or somehow suggesting that blackness is valuable to white people, I think is an interesting comment that Peele certainly approaches, I’m not sure that he specifically makes a lot of comment on that particular aspect, but for instance – you know the weird creepy son of the family talking about “with those genetics and with that build, you could be…
SHAUN: You know, whatever it is, “a great MMA fighter”, you know that fetishization as you said of black bodies, not as containers for human souls as other people get to be seen as, but as essentially mules, right?
ANTHONY: Mhmm. Mhmm.
SHAUN: So what do you…talk to me a little bit about that, talk to me about what you saw um in this film as regards the ways that white people I guess, believe that they’re paying black people a compliment but are actually falling into this, as you said, programmatic white supremacy, programmatic anti-blackness, this all kind of reminds me of, was it Jimmy the Greek? Who said, “the reason why all the black athletes are so good is because they were bred that way”.
ANTHONY: Ooh I don’t know who said that but it sounds like a white man, I can tell you that.
SHAUN: That’s another thing I gotta look up. But yeah, talk to me about this really interesting thing that I think Peele did, which is to you know, make a comment on that, you know – here are things white people think are flattering, here are the things that white people think connote some sense of equality or some sense of uh, worship even, right? But that actually is just, those things are really just continuations of commodification and dehumanization.
ANTHONY: Oh yeah. So, for folks who don’t know the history of the United States, it was founded on the genocide of Native folks and then it was founded on the labour – the ‘free’ quote unquote labour of black folks who were enslaved Africans, and then also there’s a lot of other folks like Chinese railroad workers and even Irish folks who were not enslaved, but were indentured. Um, which is – there is a difference. And so, when you think about the way that black folks have always been property and then the way that in this system they re-take us as property. And there’s even a slight – I don’t know if you caught this, a slight victim narrative? Because at one point there’s a scene…and it makes me want to read the screen-play, um, because at one point there’s a scene where he says to him, “you’ve been given”, I think it’s in, when he’s watching the uh, the grandpa talk on the film, he’s saying “you’ve been given these advantages all your life, and you’re basically…now you have to pay it back, right?”
SHAUN: Yes, right.
ANTHONY: And the thing about scientific racism that’s so fucked up, is that um, they say…there’s this…it reminds me of when I was reading about slavery, and there’s a book I was reading that talked about… it was writings from Europeans right, who first met enslaved Africans and Africans on the continent and talked about how we had this disgusting smell, um but then also later you would find out they were sleeping with us, or were raping us, or really attracted to us, right? And so with black folks and the black body there’s this constant push and pull and constant tension between like, they’re really disgusted by us and they think that we’re vile creatures and they literally think that we’re monkeys with smaller brains? And then also like, I want to sleep with them, and they have a hyper sex drive, and their labia are better, and their dicks are bigger and all these things, right? And so watching that in the film, there was this victim complex almost of like, well y’all got everything you wanted and needed with your bodies, and so now you’ve gotta pay it back.
And to see that, even when you see the grandpa who’s in the groundskeeper’s body, right? My partner had to point out to me that the reason outside of intimidating Chris, the reason he ran by was because this was some basically neo-Nazi who lost to Jesse Owens and so he wanted to be in a black body to inhabit that, to have these what he saw as like, god given or even bred abilities right? That they don’t have and that they will never have. And so it’s a really interesting thing cause it speaks to like, both white inferiority and white supremacy, and it speaks to the ways that anti-blackness is weaponized, it’s weaponized to say that you’re less than and that you don’t deserve anything and everything’s your fault, and it’s also weaponized in this film to say, you’re more than and you don’t deserve that, right? Like we deserve that, we are the ones who deserve it so we want your body but we want to put in a better brain, we want to put in our brains, and we also want to experience it.
And so then, taking it a step further if you think about cultural appropriation right, and you think about how everything that black Americans create gets co-opted, not just by white people but by non-black people of color, it’s like goddamn, can we have anything? Right?
And so you look at it, and it’s the idea of taking it a step further and literally – so they don’t wanna just do black-face, they don’t wanna just have a deep voice, they don’t wanna just like have a sultry jazz song, they want to literally embody us, and embody blackness right? And that’s in the film I think at it’s core. I don’t know if that’s what he was saying right, like there are so many ways to interpret it, but for me as someone who comes at it from like this pro-black and from this like, examining white supremacy lens, and not just seeing it as some comedy – although there are definitely moments of that, and thriller moments – it’s like, this is some – if you want it to be, it’s some very deep stuff. And when you think on the film and think back, I haven’t watched it a second time but I’m excited to, and I don’t even like watching films twice–
ANTHONY: –because I want to see things that I didn’t catch in the first part, you know?
ANTHONY: And there’s tells right? Even from the beginning when the film opened up I was like, “Oh shit”. Because he said “Do they know that I’m black?” And I don’t know if you’ve seen my thread on it, but anyone follows me on Twitter you know that I talk about interracial relationships, I have been in a few in my life, and if you are in a partnership with a black person – particularly a….there are a lot of politics I think we should get into, particularly about black men and white women, right? But if you’re in a relationship between a black person and a white person, and you’re four months in and you’re meeting their parents and they don’t even know that you’re black?? like that’s a problem. And that’s one of the problems with the United States of America is that we don’t want to talk about race, right? Like we don’t wanna even say it. You don’t want to mention that you have a quote unquote…or like whisper and be like (whispers) “I have a black boyfriend” (resumes volume) right? And so the fact that you don’t want to mention it is telling. So I was like oh, Chris, this is not going to end well. Because you already know, when they don’t know four months in that you’re black? Like, you ain’t…it was just a mess. It was a mess, Shaun…
… and I was mad at the film, it was a great film, but it was one of them times that I was just yelling at that screen.
SHAUN: Right, yeah. (laughs) I mean there’s so much obviously to unpack there. I want to talk a little bit about – somewhere in what you brought up is a concept that I think is really interesting and if you know who to credit with this let me know, but the idea that you know, people in the United States are, they’re okay with a multi-ethnic society, but they’re not okay with a multicultural society? And I know that’s very broadly kind of overgeneralizing, and I know you can point out situations where you know, the first is true and the second isn’t, etcetera etcetera, but I found myself thinking of that idea especially during the party scene, where you have the first kidnapped black man that we see, you know the guy that opens the film basically.
ANTHONY: Mhmm, mhmm. Andre.
SHAUN: Who…yeah. He is accepted in a way that Chris is not accepted at that party, because the procedure has already been done to him. So it got me thinking about skin color, and about as you mentioned this color blindness thing which is a total kind of white liberal thing about how, let’s just not see color oh but, you don’t realize that not seeing color means you’re not accepting kind of the totality of who I am and what my experience is, right? This kind of paternalistic white liberal idea that that’s the best way to deal with race is to ignore it.
SHAUN: Which you and I both disagree with. But I feel like the way that Andre and Chris are treated so differently speaks a lot to that, because they are…they’re color blind to Andre because, you know, this is an exaggerated kind of thing, but he’s literally got a white brain. They see him as a white soul in a lack container, and so racism to them isn’t the problem because they don’t care what color his skin is, as long as his soul is white, right?
ANTHONY: Mhmm, mhmm.
SHAUN: So, well first of all, do you know of that quotation? Who am I stealing that from, do you know?
ANTHONY: I’ve heard the quotation but I don’t know who that is.
SHAUN: Okay, we’ll have to…I’ve tried to find it before but it’s hard to pin down. So yeah, so talk to me a little it about what you think of this concept. And I think, one of the reasons why people bring it up is because, in my opinion anyway, it gets at a fundamental misunderstanding of white people, mostly white liberals, as far as the effects of a racialised society on us as people of color, and it kind of points at…it attempts to point at what they’re kind of not understanding, right?
ANTHONY: Mhmm, mhmm.
SHAUN: Conformity is the thing that’s really perpetuating violence, not necessarily the idea of a multi-ethnic society, but conformity to a monocultural society.
ANTHONY: Mhmm. Yeah, it’s…it’s such an interesting thing, cause even that – when you think about Andre right, the reason he’s accepted is not just like the white man in a black body but the fact that it goes to even his presentation, right? (laugh) Which is like that funny scene where he goes to dap, Chris goes to dap him and he like, grabs his whole hand which is like…a moment of like…it’s hilarious but it’s also really shocking in a scary way, to imagine like someone doing that to you. Like fisting your hand basically, like, it’s just very strange.
SHAUN: Right right. Well it’s kind of a domineering gesture.
ANTHONY: Yeah, and it speaks to I think the way, when we think about – even black folks, right? And you think about black folks who either support police, or who are going to Ivy league institutions or teach there or whatever, there’s a certain amount of um, when you are unapologetically black it’s hard to get to those places even, right? And when you are unapologetically yourself like Andre was in the beginning like, “Man I’m in this neighborhood, you better pray for me” and all this, to later being in this like get-up, right…it speaks to the way that we can – we being white society, right? – we can accept you as long as you follow our rules right, and that’s what colonialism is, and that’s what – they want this homogeneity, although they don’t necessarily think of it as homogeneity, they like to think that “Oh I have a black friend, and my black friend thinks differently” than them, but the only black friend they have that is in their circle actually thinks the same exact way that they do. Or, if they do not they perform that because they…for whatever reason, right? So it’s this really scary thing to think about the ways that the Andres and the Chrises exist in the world, pre- and post- that surgery because, you talk about these places, you talk about the sunken place and talk about who they were before and who they are now and all of that.
And this idea of like, white people like…I still can’t get over it, like white people literally inhabiting that body, right? And clearly from the body language right, the implication was that, her husband…cause there were a series of micro aggressions, right at the slave auction essentially when they’re doing the bingo, which is like an old school tactic that they’ve been doing where they dress us up nice, and they present us, well rather, actually back in the day they would have us naked. Um, so that was nice in their view ’cause they get to see the whole body, and we’re glistening with oil, um in this case it’s different – he’s in his own clothes, but they know exactly what they’re there for. And there’s an older woman who touches his muscles, and asks about that, and then the older man who she’s with – obviously like he’s, he’s getting older, he’s in a wheelchair, we don’t know if he can actually have sex but she wants to, it’s probably been her dream – and this is a leap, right? But based on my experience in life and the films stereotypes and caricatures, it seems like she wants to sleep with a black man. Someone who’s not just young, but also somebody who is potentially well endowed, right?
So looking at that scene, and then looking at the scene with Andre, you see that she’s all over him, you know that’s probably her husband, if not her husband then someone close in her life, and they have not been seen in public in four months because they’ve been fucking – for lack of a better word, right? (laugh)
SHAUN: Right, yeah, Yep.
ANTHONY: So when you think about that, it’s like wow – she got herself a ‘good Negro’ or a ‘safe Negro’ right? Like, I was just writing about I am Not your Negro, and that’s what they want, that’s. They want us to be their Negroes, to be their model minority myths, they want us to be all of these things so that we fit their mould, and – but with the idea of like ‘oh, we’re really diverse’. We have Shaun, and we have Anthony, but it doesn’t really matter if Shaun and Anthony parrot everything that you say – or when we actually call you out on things that you say – you disagree, and you act like…you gaslight, right? You act like we’re the ones that are quote unquote crazy.
So it’s a very fascinating thin in that film, because the politics of it are really really um, it was just so real! I mean, watching that film was very real, and in a way that – I think, I even saw a photo of like Allison and Daniel behind the scenes and I was just thinking like, were they both….cause you know, Daniel’s British. So his experience as being black is different, he’s in a different part of the diaspora. And it doesn’t mean he doesn’t experience institutional, structural or interpersonal racism because he does and he will and that’s a thing. But it’s a different experience, right? And so I’m wondering were they like, laughing about like “Oh my god this is so ridiculous” when I’m watching this film and I’m like “Wow, this is spot on.” Like, you know what I mean?
ANTHONY: Even that phone call when – I call her Becky-Rose, because I call a lot of white women Becky – but even when Becky-Rose is getting the phone call from the friend, and she’s like “Oh my God, have you seen him?” and you see that fake white girl-ness of like, she was being hysterical and then like completely cut it off, because it was easy for her. There’s a certain amount of…for Peele, that roboticism that existed, um was an exaggeration but I’ve seen it in white women, right? And so there’s a lot of times when we’re like “Oh my God, they just don’t know any better” and they don’t, that’s very true, because we’re socialized in this messed up world. But there’s other times when I have seen white women be very calculated in what they do. And again, not exclusive to white women – anyone can do that. But in terms of a trend, I’ve seen a lot of like – people do exactly what they want to do, and then afterward be like (innocent white girl voice) “Well I didn’t know” and that’s like, what Rose was doing. Even being like (porn star voice) “You wanna fuck me, right?” it’s like, oh my God. Like, girl. And I’m sure that works on some of the people, that’s how she can get a second victim.
ANTHONY: But yeah, it’s fascinating, who’s allowed into these societies, and and why are they allowed, right? And what cost do you have to pay to be allowed. And then who do you cut off, right? Because Andre couldn’t go back to his family actin’ like that, because they would clown** him, because that’s not who he was when he left.
SHAUN: Right, right. So you know, again, we’re talking about this in a pretty highly metaphorical sense because the way the movie sets up, but at the same time we have all of these analogues to like real life situations that black people specifically live with and through.
ANTHONY: Mhm mhm
SHAUN: And I think, that uh, I think just to put it in context for people who maybe may not be as familiar with some of this language, Andre essentially like, I would say that what he went through in a way was kind of (laugh) like a life-long procedure that keeps him locked into the code-switched position?
ANTHONY: Mmm, mhmm.
SHAUN: You know what I mean? Because as you said, there’s a level of acceptance that needs to be met in order to become the black friend, or the Asian friend, or the Latinx friend, and so a lot of times when white people do have these friends, they’re not – as you say, they’re not kind of understanding that the friend who is presenting may not be the actual friend. May not be the person inside, may not be the person who is how they are when they’re with other people who are not white. But …shoot, I had another kind of follow up thought on that, but while I try to remember that, talk to me about, I guess – you briefly kind of mentioned earlier about the politics of…
ANTHONY: Oh, black men and white women?
SHAUN: Yeah let’s kinda go into that. I want to slightly recuse myself from that, only because
ANTHONY: Yeah no…(laughs)
SHAUN: As people who have followed me on Twitter or are supporting this podcast through Patreon will know that I am recently – we’re not officially divorced, but I’m at the tail end of a 12 year relationship with a white woman. So, uh it’s hard for me to distinguish between my general thoughts and my divorced-man thoughts.
SHAUN: I’ll chime in a little bit, but for the most part I’ll let you kind of handle this. Because I do agree with you, I do think that there are very very specific kinds of not only communicational styles but power dynamics when you have a white woman in a relationship with a man of color.
ANTHONY: Yeah, and so I mean the thing is it’s a very interesting thing and I, I’m queer right so I don’t date women, but I remember growing up my Mom said “Bring home a black girl.” And I like used to think that was really – back when I thought that black people could be racist, although now I do not think that because that requires both power and privilege, right? And we don’t have that, right. But we can be prejudiced, right. I used to be like, “Mom, that’s really racist!” But as I got older I recognized that like a lot of the issues that come with that, and the fact that like 50 years ago – within the last 50 years, and not even just that – people were literally being lynched for being with white women, right?
And so like, the thing is white men could get with black women, and it was obviously not looked upon with great favor, but it was generally like, they could do that and that was okay, it was more acceptable for many reasons, mainly that white men have a lot of power over everybody including white women, right? So it’s like, you can say all you want but white men hold power and have for a long time, right? And so a white man with a black women is like a different thing.
It also speaks to, a lot of us who are African American have white blood in us, whether we recognize it or not, because of colonialism. So a lot of us come from folks like…enslaved Africans, women, they were often raped by their slave masters, and it’s a really horrible truth that I think doesn’t get talked about enough, and it’s wild that that happened so often, and sometimes they would carry their children, and those children would not have fathers. Because those white slave masters were not going to father those children. And sometimes they did, but most of the time they didn’t, right? And so when you talk about the dynamics of a black man and a white woman, and how then you consider patriarchy right? So white women are property of white men in that sense, right? And so then what I immediately was thinking of at the end scene, which was like stressful – so stressful, because the cop came and I was like, a’ight, so he’s dead. (laugh) He’s dead, he’s gone.
But to see Allison Williams, you know to see Rose like reach out her hand and be like, (white damsel voice) “Help!”, you see this white woman who is…has a huge thigh gap by the way, and that’s not a body-shaming thing, it was just an interesting thing that that was so prominent in one of the opening scenes where her thighs do not touch, right–
ANTHONY: –Versus, yeah like culturally…I’m an actor too, and so like you gain weight on camera. And so then I know that she’s very thin in person, right? Um and again, not in a body shame-y way, that’s often people’s body type and that’s fine. But culturally, most black people aren’t built like that, most black women their thighs touch, most black men our thighs touch, um as a generalization, but there a plenty of us who are also really skinny – whatever right.
But in saying that, thinking about this white woman, and thinking about this like, the narrative of the black brute which happens often where the black man is seen as this big overbearing dude with often a big penis but also who is like super violent and just wants to rape white women, right? Like that’s a thing, right? Like if you Google–
SHAUN: Literally – I’m sorry, literally the film King Kong, just think about that.
ANTHONY: Yeah. Literally. So when you think about all these things, and you think about the black brute, and you think about how black men are portrayed and how many times …in terms of sexual assault and rape, I’m always going to listen to the survivor, um and still because both of these things are true, there have been many cases where white women claim that they have been either sexually assaulted, or raped by a black man and it wasn’t actually true? You know, it was later proven that it wasn’t true. You know, the woman admitted, or DNA evidence proved or whatever it was, it wasn’t true, but they believed them because it was a white woman saying this, right?
But if a black woman was to say that a white man raped her, they might say that she wanted it, or they may do all of these like, survivor victim blaming things.
ANTHONY: So when you think about Rose and Chris being together, and you think about those dynamics, he’s the one who would get in trouble for that, you know what I mean? The idea is that the dad with the shotgun would come out and chase him, right? The dad with the…you know. What I immediately thought of, this was recently after the woman who got Emmett Till killed, by saying that he whistled at her, she had just come out in a book and said that he didn’t actually whistle. And so this kid…it like…it was wild because like I wasn’t trying to read about it on purpose, because it was so traumatising. Because we, in the black community we knew that she was lying, right? And like, that was just…we knew. And even if she wasn’t lying, for him to get lynched because he winked or whistled at her, like…you know what I mean? Was ridiculous. But he got horribly. Horribly horribly horribly beaten and abused, and that was, that actually sparked a lot of civil rights things, because what ended up happening is his mother put that on the…she got in the news, like she had an open casket and so that went to national.
And so, Mamie Till I believe is her name. And so Mamie Till, by doing that, she…there’s a lot of things that happened, and it sparked a lot of world wide events, and it’s interesting cause I think people forget about that sometimes, and I only learned about it in my early 20’s, but to see Chris and to see Rose, that’s why you have to be very intentional about any interracial relationships between a black man and a white woman, particularly because there’s a history of violence behind that, there’s a history of…you know? Like, there’s a phrase ‘nigger lover’ is a phrase that people would use for women. Less so for white men, they’d use it for, they’d use it for white women who were sleeping with black man. Because like I said earlier, scientific racism, right? So we were intellectually…we were and are still seen as intellectually inferior, sometimes physically inferior but usually not it’s then opposite, they see us as superior right? And all these things, and so anyway I’m going on to say that the politics of that are really interesting, and there’s one scene where he thinks that…what was her name, Georgina?
SHAUN: Yeah – the maid.
ANTHONY: Yeah, he thinks that the maid unplugged his phone, right? And then he’s talking to Rose about it later and he says like, “It’s a thing”, right? Like he’s implying that there’s black women out there who are, do not like that black men date white women.
SHAUN: Yeah, right
ANTHONY: And the interesting thing about that line is that it doesn’t… I mean, the film can only be so long, but it doesn’t explore… like, there’s a lot of black women who have critiques of this film that I think really need to be listened to? Because what needs to be explored as well is the tendency of cisgender heterosexual black men and white women, right? It doesn’t encompass the whole black experience, it’s very specific to black men, and in many ways Chris is a victim of this family the whole time, and it doesn’t actually talk about any faults that he may have done. So it’s interesting that he accuses, that he accuses her of doing that, right? And for whatever reason, outside of a plot point, he accuses her of doing that. But then with Rose, he’s like “Yeah there’s this thing”, and yes there is a thing because historically black men have cheated on black women with white women. And historically, black men have been with white women and have gotten killed for it, and black women are like “Don’t do that. Don’t do that, don’t do it…” and black men still do it, right? And historically there’s also, there’s a correlation between black men who get with white women and do not have a critical perspective on black women’s experience and they don’t have a critical experience on blackness and what that means within that lens, right? And so it doesn’t mean that they can’t, like I’ve met black men who are dating white women who are mad aware of the privilege and everything that goes into it, but I’ve also met some who are really disparaging and misogynoiristic right like, black women hating, toward women, toward black women. So when you think all of these factors to have within this one line of “There’s this thing”, right, so it’s like almost like she’s jealous of us. And it’s like, no. 1, it’s a white granny in that black woman’s body. So that’s a thing.
SHAUN: (laugh) Right.
ANTHONY: But 2, outside of that, like Georgina you know like…it’s just wild for that scene, that scene just matters a lot as a black person, and as a black queer man who like, listens to a lot of black women and then has black cis male friends who like don’t get sometimes that there is a reason that black women are leery of white women, because there have been many times that white women have been untrustworthy, and it’s not just like this one white woman, there have been like patterns with it. And historically, up until this last generation, they’ve been doing this. They’ve been tricking and killing us. This happens, there’s like multiple cases, it’s not just me talkin’ out my ass.
SHAUN: Yeah, right.
ANTHONY: So when I think about that, especially think about the Emmett Till thing, that kid is dead – and he was fourteen when he was killed after being falsely accused right, of flirting with this white woman, and his death was so bad that they had this like open casket, and those people, these dudes you know – her husband and the friend, I think it was her brother actually – do you know they actually ended up getting money to tell their story? In a magazine?
SHAUN: No, no.
ANTHONY: And they got very little time in jail, if any. I can’t remember the exact details right now but they got paid, just like Darren Wilson got paid after he killed Mike Brown, he got paid to do interviews. So when you think about Darren Wilson, you think about all these other people, not just the cops right, but individuals, George Zimmerman, who have made money off of the death of black people, right?
SHAUN: Or even Daniel Holtzclaw who has not made money, who is in jail, but one could argue based on the number of his victims, black women of varying ages, was allowed to continue because of the victims that he chose.
SHAUN: And their perceived value in society.
ANTHONY: And then Holtzclaw’s a very interesting case because had he been just a white man, do you think that would have happened, right? But he was a mixed race Asian man who appeared Asian and so my feeling right, there’s no data to back this up right now, but my feeling is that that played into it. He was a quote unquote person of color, and so that’s one of the reasons he was punished in a way that most white men who would have committed similar crimes and have, aren’t getting punished in the same way, or not to the same extreme. And so Holtzclaw was this case where I was like wow, he is actually in jail, and whether that’s the right thing to do…I mean, Holtzclaw can go to hell. But I mean in terms of jail, jail doesn’t actually… bring back, it doesn’t cure the trauma, it doesn’t bring back anybody from the dead and often it just makes the folks who get sent away worse. And there is not really…the recidivism rates and the rehabilitation, it’s horrible.
ANTHONY: Um, so that’s a different thing, that’s a different episode. Yeah but, it’s wild looking at Holtzclaw and how he could continue for so long, and how many times they wouldn’t be believed, these women, if they would even come forward. Because who’d want to talk about that trauma? Right? And who wants to like…I dunno, it’s wild and it’s heavy. And that’s why this film was like, beautiful and amazing and triggering and like ridiculous, and it’s really funny how many white people are mad about it when it’s like, you and I are saying it’s not even that ridiculous. He could have taken it so much further than he did.
SHAUN: Oh, absolutely. So, let me, you mentioned Georgina and she, I think is a really interesting character, and I do want to echo your statement about listening to black women on this, I think there have been a, quite a bit of threads on twitter, and there are some pieces on Medium – I will link to those in the show notes. As you said, there are kind of this film was really looking at a very specific aspect, and you can’t…you can’t reasonably do that without being open to interpretation by other people than who you are focussing on, right? Because that’s not how art works, and especially not how social commentary works. So there are extremely interesting takes that I will link to once again, but let me ask you because you kind of referenced this, the things in the film like the unplugging the phone and “Oh that’s a thing” with black women and black men in relationships with white women, that strikes me as a good way to get into the idea of the audience for this film.
ANTHONY: Mhm, mhm.
SHAUN: And this is something that you could even kind of make more general if you want to go in that direction, but…there are some things where the audience is not necessarily…these pieces of art are not necessarily for white people, first and foremost. And I know that white people get a little bit upset about this, because they kind of…you know they, and people of color have been socialized to believe that the first and foremost audience for anything is white people and anything else is kind of incidental. But I’ve seen a lot of black folk on Twitter talking about how this is first and foremost a film for black people, maybe non-black people of color secondarily, but certainly it is not for white people in its most primary form. Again, you can talk about this specifically with this film or you can talk about it generally, I know that you have great thoughts on this. Just the general idea itself.
ANTHONY: Well…thank you! When I saw Dear White People I was pretty pissed off because the audience was white people, you know? And obviously with a title like Dear White People I shouldn’t have been surprised. But seeing that film, like the gaze…it was for a white gaze, it was very much for, it was explaining things, and it was like, the character development, a lot of it…it actually made me really sad, because I had listened to an interview with Justin Simien, the filmmaker, and Terry Gross, you know, on NPR, and I remember like, I ha some issues with the interview but I remember being excited about this film. And then seeing it I was like, oh God. This is for a white audience. And in many ways – I don’t disparage the fact that this was created, like I hope that that woke up some people, and now that there’s this Netflix series I’m hoping that wakes up some more people, right? Who are on the cusp of understanding, but maybe who grew up in an area where, whether it’s rural or urban because both of them have these ideas that white is right and anything else is wrong, but (sigh) it…for me, with Get Out, it was mainly for a black audience in many ways, but there were many moments where I was like, “huh” you know what I mean? Um, and moments I had to think about it, because it…it’s for, it’s like when I see certain films or see certain articles, I’ll sometimes like, tweet out annotations or whatever? Because like, Get Out’s a film that I think white people need to see with annotations, right?
So to go through the film the first time and to see the mother character who’s condescending and annoying and so many other things, to see her talk to Georgina in the way that she does at first is really disturbing, right? ‘Cause you see the way that she’s like, “Go take a nap.” And it’s a command, right? And it was a little freaky, and I didn’t like it at all. Um, because when you have black servants, right…it just brings back a whole lot of…shit. And, but then to think about the second time through, after the film’s over, it’s like…oh. But that’s their mother, that’s the grandmother, in that body, so she’s like…it seems like it came from a place of care, when I think back about it, because this is a moment where she’s saying you know, “Grandma, go lay down.” You know what I mean? Like, “you’re not doing too well”. And when I look at moments like that, that’s a moment that I don’t think, I don’t know how overt it would have been for white people to see that moment and to realize how Daniel was feeling. O Chris, the character Chris, was feeling. And that’s a bunch of bullshit that we see and that’s the stuff that I usually call people out on, but for years of my life I wouldn’t right, because it’s not worth the fight. Because it’s happening every five minutes.
So in this film, seeing it more generally, often these films when they’re black films, are created for white people, like Blackbird was a film created by Patrik Ian Polk, and I didn’t like it. It was a queer film, and like it was very much for the white gaze, and um it wasn’t just because it was a black kid in an interracial relationship with this white kid, but it was like, the way that it was filmed, the way that it was written, it was like “This is for white people.” Get Out felt more for black people because it was like, you know, right from the beginning like I said when he was like, “Yo….you know, um, do they know I’m black?” and I was like, uh oh. And when he opened the door, it was actually really funny because on Twitter I’m really loud, in person I’m pretty introverted, until I get to know someone or unless I’m in a social circle of people I know, and then I’m pretty loud again. But in the theater, I’m watching in the theater – in the back of the theater – and when he opened up that tiny little door? I didn’t know what was in it but I was like, “uh UH!” right, and the whole theater busted up laughing because they heard me, and it was like a bunch of black people in the theater it was like we knew it was like no, don’t no! You know, Shaun, it’s just like, no! And that’s why in films, often I get mad because I don’t want to see this, cause I just get mad, it’s like why you doin’ this? Why you doin’ this? Why Why?
But anyway, to your original point, this film did feel much more like it was for black people, even if it was like heavily catered toward black men, right? Even the relationship between like, you know the TSA agent and…what was his name? I forget. But he was…that’s a dude who is hilarious, and he played his role very well. And to see the relationship, and like you said earlier, Andre’s stuck in a permanent code switch, he’s stuck on the other side, so to see this character Chris kind of code switch between his best friend and his work friend, that was really um beautiful moment that as black people we can recognize. I’m lucky that I work with all black people at my job, but I’m like 27 and this is the first job I’ve ever had like that. Every other job has been with a majority white people. I live in the state of California, we are about 6% of the population nationally…or not nationally, state wide, even though in Oakland where I live it’s a much more black population, um. So, it’s a privilege I have that I only have to deal with white folks outside of the workplace for the most part?
But generally we’re dealing with that all day every day right, we’re dealing with that 40 hours a week, in addition to our schooling, in addition to our friend groups, in addition to all of that. And so seeing this film, seeing it with my non-white housemate, and then seeing it with my black partner was such a blessing, cause like…my friend, he’s black and he’s dating a white woman and he’s like, “I’m taking her to see it, right?” And they have really deep conversations about blackness and whiteness, and when she can come to things and when he wouldn’t feel comfortable and all of these things, but he was like, “should I do it?” and I was like “ehhh…”
But, I was joking, and I was like “See it, but it’s going to be uncomfortable.” you know what I mean? Like–
ANTHONY: It is, and it should be. We have to recognize our history in these films. It’s so interesting when you think about Jordan as a biracial kid married to a white woman, and like you can only read so much into that for the film, but I wonder what conversations he was having with his wife and like, if he saw the film with her is it just like, jokes and funny? Or is it like, no, but this is serious, that part was based on when I was at your aunty’s house and then she said this thing about me, you know?
ANTHONY: So, yeah, yeah, I do feel like it was mainly for a black audience. But even listening to, you know you should read the origin story of how this came about because he’s like wow, you’re gonna let me make this?
And so I think he was like, kind of like fucking around as much as he could, but also made a brilliant film, because it’s multi layered. And I don’t remember…I saw Memento so many years ago, but when I saw Memento I remember really liking it and thinking, “Oh shit, they really had to think through every….” I mean, you always have to think through every frame, but you can get away with it in many ways without….in many films, right? But in a film like this, when you go back and you watch, like in the moment where Andre’s spinning around? At first I was mad cause I was like, oh God he’s coonin’. He’s now tap-dancing for these white folks because of whatever happened to him. But then you look back at it and you’re like, oh it’s this white man’s brain in this black man’s body and he’s showing it off like, “Look at my new body!”
SHAUN: Yes, yeah.
ANTHONY: Like, to have all these moments, these little moments, these big moments, and even like the Rose character, basically has a script for like, how she gets these black guys. And what she says, and what she does, and how she flirts, um, while eating her Cheerios…or, Froot Loops?
SHAUN: Froot Loops!
ANTHONY: …Froot Loops, and drinking her milk from a straw! (laughs) Oh, that’s such a good scene.
SHAUN: Yeah, yeah.
ANTHONY: Yeah so for me, this film like it was great. To see Get Out, to see Fences, to see Moonlight and to see I Am Not Your Negro, plus all the music that’s been coming out lately? We’re in a black cultural renaissance and I really fucking love it. Like, you know what I mean, I really really love it, because you’re seeing different forms of expression, and you’re seeing who receives it and how they critique it? Like I found this black writer who’s critiquing it? And then I looked in his profile, and he’s critiqued all these black films in similar ways, and I’m like “Oh, bra, you need some help. You are in the sunken place!” and I think, I don’t know how you got there, I don’t know if you were born there, I don’t know if it’s society’s fault, but I need you to get out, you know?So to see even how people receive films like this is so beautiful.
SHAUN: Oh, absolutely. And I mean, you know, I think one of the brilliant parts of this film as you referenced earlier, is that so much is left unsaid, and I think that’s part of what makes it specifically for a black audience, right? I’m lucky enough to be able to pick up on some of this stuff because I listen to people like you on Twitter, I’m not trying to claim that I, these are learned experiences because I’m not black obviously. But you know, being able to kind of sit in on some of these conversations via a medium like Twitter, I recognize some of the things that are going on in the film, and you know, the fact that you can…like you said, that some of these moments can speak in a way that normally would require explanation, but that Peele is able to just let them slide by, really kind of gives that feel of being…you know, not so much being in the club, but being sympathetic to the experiences…it’s validating. If the opposite of gaslighting is validation, a lot of what’s going on in this film, I imagine is very validating from the black American perspective.
Um, so let’s see, we only have a little bit of time left, I…what I’m gonna do, I was originally gonna mention the cameo appearance by the Japanese man, who is specifically Japanese, not just unknown Asian but specifically Japanese. I have a tweet-thread about that, I will link to that in the show notes, unless you had something real quick on that? But I definitely went in on what I think that really means, why I think it was deliberate that Peele had, not only had that character but had him as a Japanese person specifically, and um kind of all that, but did you have anything real quick on that?
ANTHONY: No, I think that’s your area of expertise I’ll just say that I’m very happy that he included a non-black person of color, specifically a Japanese person within that scene. You know what I mean? Because like, it was literally a slave auction block, and to talk about complicity, and who wants access to whiteness and what does that look like, and how do we compare ourselves as POC? I think that was really, really really smart. And I haven’t read your thread, so I’m curious to read that later.
SHAUN: Yeah, absolutely. Um, yeah. Access to whiteness, white proximity, all that stuff. I mean, that’s the other thing too, we haven’t even really gotten far enough as a country into talking about you know, these race-specific issues, so that we can talk about non-white interracial issues, right? Like, we’re so…obviously there is, as you have mentioned, the white gaze, we look at all of these things, we look at black America through the white perspective, we look at how the black and white communities interact, we look at how the Asian American and white communities interact, and it’s very very rare that we get to think about, or talk about or look at the ways that you know, non-white communities interact with each other. Whether it is in complicity with white society, or against white society, or just together having nothing to do with whiteness, um, and…I know for me, as an Asian American who is…I don’t know what word to use. Educated, I guess? On matters of anti-blackness, on matters of Asian American complicity and white proximity, it was thrilling to see kind of myself or my community acknowledged, even if it wasn’t in the most flattering light, right?
ANTHONY: (laughs) Mhm.
SHAUN: But it was an honest light. And to a certain degree, that’s more seen than I felt…that’s more seen than I typically feel watching an Asian character in a white film.
ANTHONY: Mmmm, mhm.
SHAUN: And it’s horrible, right? Horrible that that’s where I need to get my representation, is to see essentially a Japanese wanna-be slave owner. But man that’s an honest portrayal, above and beyond Long Duk Dong, which is a totally dishonest portrayal.
SHAUN: So I think that’s…again, one of the goals of this podcast is to have people of color talking to each other, because we don’t hear kind of enough of that. Let’s see, so, let me kind of close this out…let me just ask you this question because I’ve seen a lot of people talking about how…actually let me be very specific, I’ve seen a lot of black people talking, some non-black people of color but mostly black people, talking about how this film really puts white liberals in their place, and kind of exposes white liberalism as being this kind of surface-level anti-racism but, still certainly programmed in the same white supremacy context that we all are.
SHAUN: I do however worry about how the characters, how the white characters in this film turn at the end, and I haven’t really sought out a white perspective on this film…or anything, really, ’cause you don’t have to seek out white opinions, right? They just kind of come to you no matter what.
ANTHONY: No, they slap you in the face whether you want them to or not, it’s always…it’s actually usually non-consensual.
SHAUN: Exactly. But I could see a white liberal coming away from this film being like, “Well they were white liberals in the beginning, but it turned out they were really white conservatives at heart.” Um.
ANTHONY: (Mms in understanding)
SHAUN: What do you think? Gimme kind of your general…because for me, I would not see or interpret it that way at all. At all. At all. Right? To me, these are white liberals through and through–
SHAUN:–but I think…you know, obviously there is this issue with white liberals that they believe that because they take an anti-racist stance politically that that means that’s also what they’re doing interpersonally, and inter-community, when that is not necessarily true. So talk to me, I guess, about um…how should I do this? I kinda wanna just say, hey, pretend like I’m a liberal white guy telling you that that’s how I read the film–
(Anthony cracks up laughing)
–And just respond to me how you will.
ANTHONY: Um, that reminds me of when I…anyway, I have a story for another day. I’m long-winded. Um, so I ideally wouldn’t be in that conversation with you if you were a white liberal. Um, so I think I might bypass some of that? I’ll do a mix. So to answer your first like question, it’s I do think I mean…white people just aren’t gonna get it unless they want to get it. Right? Because when I think about me, this is what I always say, and people make fun of me for it because I had the tweet that was like, ‘quote this with an impersonation of me’ and then J-dod** was like, “guys we have to be accountable for everything, everything, everything, but oh by the way – black and gay.” And like, that’s what it is with me, right? Because as someone who’s black and queer I think about how I was taught white supremacy and how I was taught anti-blackness, and how like and for me, these white people think they’re not racist and I’m like, if I’m black and I have to deal with anti-blackness, how are you white or non-black person of color not dealing with anti-blackness…
SHAUN: Yeah, absolutely
ANTHONY: …when I know you’ve been taught that. And so for me, this films only going to speak to people when they’re in a place to like, actually hear some of that, right? And recognize their own behaviors in that. Because it’s so easy, that’s why there’s so many white people mad, because it’s easy to distance yourself from this film, because they are quote unquote white liberals in the beginning, and they are white conservatives by the end, or they’re just evil. Those are just evil humans. Or, people will reduce it to, “well not all families owned slaves”. Right, you know? Which is true sure, only the ones who had enough money could, right? But like, it doesn’t mean that you didn’t all benefit from this ‘free labour’ which wasn’t really free, because we’re still paying the price for it today, and we still haven’t received reparations for it today, not even just monetarily, right? Just in terms of so many other things.
And so when you look at that film, I could see people being like, “well that was just one family” and, “it’s a horror film”, and “if there were a horror film about black people I wouldn’t believe everything that they’re saying” and so for me – that’s my stuffy white person voice, or one of them –
ANTHONY: –but for me, it’s not gonna speak to those folks who are already, like, folks who are already conservatives they’re going to think that it’s like bullshit, and folks who are like liberal and don’t realize that that’s still not enough, right? They’re gonna see this film, and I think that as a generalization they’re gonna be “this is ridiculous, that’s just them” and not recognize that their own behaviors are just as violent and just as ridiculous, and that they don’t have a brother like Roses’ brother, like you have a cousin like that, you have an uncle like that, you might be like that, right? So like the benevolent racism that shows up in the beginning of the film, I think some of it’s going to go over a lot of their heads. And then because of the turn at the end? I love it, it’s great, there are literally people cheering in the film when he’s like killing white people at the end, because it’s just like, after all…
SHAUN: Yeah, mine, me too.
ANTHONY: Yeah! Because after all the shit they put him through, and after all the shit we’ve gone through in our lives, and it’s a film so you can live vicariously through it, it’s like – yeah, fuck ’em up! Fuck up them white people. Which is not something I usually…like, I’m like y’all get on my nerves, but whatever I’ll keep on going. But in the film I’m like, “Yeeah!!”
SHAUN: Sorry, let me butt in real quick, because this is another…we could, oh man we could go off on tangents for ten hours, but the fact..the fact there is no kind of torture porn involved, right with any of it, until arguably you get the bare-hand strangulation with Rose.
ANTHONY: Mhm, mhm.
SHAUN: But the fact that it’s all very quick, and there’s, you know obviously there’s a lot of subtext and symbolism to running the dad through with the Buck antlers, or (laugh) because of the…I think you mentioned the term ‘big black buck’ earlier in the conversation?
ANTHONY: Mhm, mhm.
SHAUN: So you have that symbolism, but yeah the fact really this is a methodical…this is an escape method, this is “I need to kill these people and get out”, not…a…not that I’m going to linger over their white bodies and kind of become them in a way by going through that.
SHAUN: Sorry I just wanted to butt in with that.
ANTHONY: No, I think that’s a really good – I mean, it’s why the Black Panthers are the Black Panthers. They’re looking for an animal that um, that it’s not gonna necessarily go attack you, but if you strike they’re gonna strike back. And that’s what black people are. If you look at this country and the history of domestic terrorism, that’s what we are. We don’t generally go out and shoot up schools, we don’t…like there are so many black people who like, who could be like “You know what? Fuck all y’all whiteys” and do, you know, do whatever they want, right? But we don’t want to be that, we’ve never wanted to be that, that doesn’t live inside of us, right?
ANTHONY: So you may have one individual who snaps and something happens, right, but as a group? We don’t do that, like we don’t go and do that, and when we have issues it’s generally intra-communally, like our community, it’s within ourselves, it’s within our own ethnic groups. So we’re not going out there and messing with people, and so in that film like you said, it’s a matter of self defense. He’s trying to get out. If he coulda got out without killing anybody he would have, but they kept coming after him because they wanted that brain. That body, to put the brain in.
ANTHONY: So anyway, yeah, I think I covered most of what I was thinking but, that film is a trip. That film is a trip and I was really happy when it was over, and I was like, we sat until the credits were over and we like talked about it, and it was like…uh. It was just so good, And it reminded me of when I was a kid and as soon as I would finish a movie I would look everything up, which like I still do but I don’t always have the time to do so sometimes like, it’s bedtime, right?
ANTHONY: But this one like, I went home and I was like reading interviews with Peele, and then I was reading, I was like reading about the film, and trying to figure out how much they made it on, and now he’s made like over a hundred million dollars so I’m like, damn, okay. But it’s a very interesting thing politically too, because who is this film made for and given it’s success is it gonna be a little watered down next time? You know when you’re looking at these social pillars, what does it look like, and how…anyway. That’s another….
SHAUN: No, I think that’s really important! And I think the lessons we learn are important, right? Like I saw a news piece the other day that said Netflix is going to invest in more documentary series because of the success of Ava DuVernay…
ANTHONY: Ava DuVernay’s 13th.
SHAUN: Yeah, Ava DuVernay’s 13th. And I was like, is the lesson there that they should make more documentaries, or is the lesson there that they should made more pro-black content? You know what I mean, right? There are different lessons you can learn. You know, as you say, you could easily look at this and be like hey, I guess there’s a thirst out there for more Wayne’s Brothers, Don’t be a Menace to South Central, etc etc. kinds of films. I think that would be learning the wrong lesson, this isn’t kind of…blaxploitation reborn, this is a whole different thing, um but yeah I do think it’s important obviously, to kind of…we’ll see what happens.
But you’re right, the first time I saw they had made over a hundred million dollars, the first reaction was kind of, just being ecstatic, but then what does that actually mean about how the film is being perceived, what level of acceptability and respectability is it being assigned by people who are straying way out of their lanes to do so, there are all these questions and really only time can tell on this stuff, but um, I did love the tweet that Jordan Peele sent out the other day which basically said “This really inspires me to continue making more films” and again, you know, different people will read that kind of thing a different way, just like they’ll do with his film, but I kind of read it as being hopeful and optimistic that he’ll be able to continue making honest films? I hope so, anyway.
ANTHONY: Mhm, mhm. I agree, and I hope that’s what it is for him, too. Because like, it…this was a really good debut, you know? This was a great film to come out there with. We could critique it right, but there are so many really great elements and even the ones that could have been worked on were such great ideas. And it paid homage to the genre, right? There were a lot of things within it, the symbols, and the films within this film, and the references, it was a well-researched and a well-crafted film, and like I don’t think anyone can…well. People can argue anything. But that’s like objective, if you look shot by shot and look at different scenes and look at the structure, there are so many great things about this film even if you hated it. You know? Like, there’s a certain amount of respect you have to have for it.
SHAUN: Yeah, I think I tweeted this the other day, it’s a cinematic marvel, in addition to being a social commentary marvel. Right? Like, as you said, it pays homage to so much of the horror, of the American Horror genre of the last fifty years, really. It’s just amazing technically, even if you took kind of all of the politics out of the film which – you and I have said this a lot on Twitter – you can’t separate politics from art.
ANTHONY: Yeah, yeah.
SHAUN: But hypothetically if you could, and it still just a wonderfully technical cinema experience, which is – on top of what it already is – is so amazing. If somebody hasn’t seen the film hopefully they’re not listening to this because you know, we don’t want to spoil anybody, but I am certainly going to try and see it again before it leaves theaters. And I’m just like you, I need five years in between my multiple viewings of films?
ANTHONY: Mhmm, mhmm, mhmm.
SHAUN: But you know, this one less than five days later I’m like, I gotta see this again. I need to go see this again. It’s amazing, I really can’t say enough about it. And I really can’t say enough about you, sir, Anthony J. Williams. People can follow you Twitter by the way, @anthoknees and uh, you are one of my absolute favorite follows on Twitter, you are always… I was gonna impersonate you but I couldn’t figure out how to do it…
(Anthony laughs hard)
…without writing a thirty tweet thread that uh…
ANTHONY: That would have been a good impersonation though, a thirty tweet thread and then just “just a short thread for you”
SHAUN: Right, right. And then in the middle I was gonna be like, “for real” then, asterisk quote-tweet from my own tweet four years ago. That was how I was gonna do it. But follow Anthony on Twitter, he’s amazing. As he mentioned earlier, he speaks to the black experience in America, he speaks to the queer experience, being a black queer man, um, everything, um. I don’t know. Again, you’re one of my favorites on Twitter. I’m so glad we could finally…this is the first time we’re…or, this is the first time I’m hearing your voice I don’t know if you’ve listened to my podcast before…
ANTHONY: Yeah, yeah, listened once, but it’s different talking to you. You have a really good radio voice. I appreciate it.
SHAUN: Oh, thank you so much! Not even a day of practice. But uh, yeah. Hearing your voice…you’re one of those people, I think, I don’t know if anyone’s ever told you differently, but your voice does match your persona. And your physical appearance. I’m not surprised, in a negative way.
ANTHONY: Yeah, yeah.
SHAUN: Does this count as a compliment? I don’t know.
ANTHONY: I will take it, because someone told me I sounded different than they thought, and I was like, I don’t know what you thought I was gonna sound like. I don’t know how you respond to that, you know? Um, but I appreciate that, and I appreciate all the compliments to, all the love, you’re definitely one of my favorite people on Twitter so it’s nice. Because Twitter’s just getting worse and worse by the day, it’s just getting trashier and trashier. So to have folks like you putting out good content, it’s nice.
SHAUN: I really appreciate that. We gotta have these enclaves where we’re talking about all this stuff. And can take a break from our general timeline by just scrolling up and down each other’s tweets. So I appreciate that. And let’s see, did I have anything else? Anthony is also a very prolific writer, you self publish through Medium, correct?
ANTHONY: Yeah, most of the time it’s through Medium, I also sometimes write for other publications.
SHAUN: Right, so that information you can find in his Twitter bio, check that out. Anthony J. Williams. Very much appreciate you being here. Actually, here. Let me just…I always say I’m going to record this stuff later but I never do because I always get too lazy or busy to do so, so let me just wrap up my whole deal which is, my name is Shaun, this podcast is called ‘No, Totally!’ follow me on Twitter @NoTotally, you can support this podcast financially – this is something that Anthony is also really good with, promoting other people’s ability to be financially supported – patreon.com/nototally one dollar per week really helps, as a pledge, if you can’t afford that then that is totally okay, do not put yourself in any kinds of dire straits on our behalf, but everything is appreciated, and Anthony can also be supported on Patreon, that I believe is also in your Twitter bio?
SHAUN: Alright, everything’s centralized. Follow Anthony, again, that’s @anthoknees. And yeah, again thank you so much for being here, this was a great conversation, obviously we didn’t touch on every single thing in the film ’cause you just can’t, but I think we did a good job of tackling it from our very specific perspectives uh, and again, I will link to other perspectives particularly from black women in the show notes, but thank you again so much for being here.
ANTHONY: Of course! Thanks for having me, Shaun. I appreciate you. Enjoy your evening.