A year after I first watched it—and a day after watching it again on HBO (which seems to have a networkwide mandate to show it 17 times a week now)—the part of Get Out that fucks with me the most is that after Chris discovers Rose’s collection of selfies with the black people she’s lured into lobotomy and slavery, I still believed that she was genuinely searching for those damn keys.
Perhaps I was just too caught up in the movie to see the now very obvious foreshadowing of this twist. But fuck! The evidence was right there, and I still gave her the benefit of the doubt. Which makes me wonder if I just naturally give white people the benefit of the doubt. Or women. Or, gasp, white women.
Get Out, of course, was as essential to 2017’s collective zeitgeist as any other piece of art. The film was record-breaking, the characters—pitch-perfect archetypes of subtly problematic liberal whiteness—iconic, and the sunken place is now a permanent fixture of America’s cultural lexicon. Before Get Out, Candyman and cockroaches were the only things that scared me. Now it’s middle-aged white women with teacups.
And the ending, well. I remember the dread I felt when I saw those police lights approach Chris. There’d be no possible way for him to explain the dead white girl lying next to him and the dead parents a few hundred feet up the road. This is where, even though I was watching it in a theater, the realities of our reality became too stark and too heavy to ignore. And an alternative ending to the movie, which I watched for the very first time last week, depicted that worst-case but terrifyingly plausible scenario.
Keeping that ending probably would’ve made Get Out an even better movie. It would have completed the Kafkaesque journey it took us on, proving that Chris’ efforts were ultimately futile. The moment he agreed to visit Rose’s family, imprisonment was the only outcome. His sense of choice had been relinquished, his fate determined. But as much as I appreciate movies that end with a “fuck your feelings” (well, movies that end with a “fuck your feelings” except for Funny Games, because fuck that movie), I think I needed Get Out to end the way it did. I think I wouldn’t have been able to watch it again if it ended with Chris behind bars.
And I think I think these things because of when Get Out was released. I saw it a month after Donald Trump was inaugurated. And I think I hadn’t yet recovered from the shock of what had happened in our country in the months before that. (For the record, I still don’t think I have. I’ve had more random aches and aliments in the last 12 months than I had in the last 12 years combined. I doubt that’s a coincidence.)
The ending, at least, allowed for a brief exhalation, a minuscule but meaningful respite from the world we’d return to when the credits rolled. America had just reminded us that we’re all Chris. That we’re all stuck on the Armitage compound, all surrounded by people who call themselves allies and spin themselves as friends, all aware that something is off but not quite able to articulate exactly what it is. And I think I needed that catharsis. And by “that catharsis” I mean “to be saved by a ride-or-die homie with a gun and an innate mistrust of ‘them white girls.’”