Get Out actor Jordan Peele attending Q&A at Morehouse College

Horror Film Smash Hit ‘Get Out’ Inspired By School Experience And Obama

Much has been written about the blockbuster horror film Get Out, but perhaps the most interesting factoid is what inspired Jordan Peele’s directorial debut. Although it would be easy to point out many potential contributing factors for this thrilling satire piece on racism in the U.S., Peele recently indicated that standardized testing was the first spark that eventually lit his creative fuse.

According to an interview Peele did with NPR, taking standardized testing in elementary school made the performer feel like he was an anomaly. This happened as a result of being biracial and feeling like no box besides “Other” properly captured his racial identity. Peele went on to describe how isolated this made him feel until he made the decision in fifth grade to begin identifying as African-American.

Get Out examines topics such as racial isolation, so it makes perfect sense that Peele can trace the story’s roots back to such a difficult and memorable experience from his youth. In fact, Peele speculates that his love of comedy and horror sprang from spending so much time feeling like an outsider.

Get Out and the President Barack Obama Connection

Get Out Barrack Obama Connection
Election of a biracial president helped Peele change his viewpoint [Image by Bruce Glikas/Getty Images]

If standardized testing was the first spark, what led to the roaring bonfire that catapulted Get Out to blockbuster status? The election of President Barack Obama, who is biracial, is credited with helping Peele change his viewpoint on his own racial identity. After that change occurred, Peele was inspired to tackle questions of race, identity, and racism, which eventually led to the script for Get Out.

Horror Films and Societal Commentary

Peele also wanted to take a close look at fear, both his own and that of society in general. Additionally, racial stereotypes are on display, including the misconceptions that some otherwise well-meaning people have about those of a different race. Tying all of this together under the heading of a horror film may seem unusual to some, but Get Out actually joins a grand tradition of the genre’s attempts to get people to face their prejudices.

For example, Frankenstein showcases that man’s zeal, God-like complex and disregard for safety can lead to horrific results. Combine that with a strong message about not judging people solely based on their appearance or differences, and you have one of the most noteworthy literary and film classics. Some may even argue that the subgenre Peele invented for Get Out, “social thriller,” is appropriate to apply to a long and diverse list of horror films.

Get Out and Frankenstein
‘Get Out,’ ‘Frankenstein’ imply not to judge a book by its cover [Wikimedia Commons | Public domain]

What’s Next for Peele and Get Out Fans?

To date, Get Out has made an astounding $134.6 million. This is newsworthy for many reasons, including the fact that the budget was only $5 million and Peele has become the first African-American writer/director to surpass the $100 million box office mark with his debut film.

In its fourth week, Get Out still managed to bring in more than $21.5 million domestically. The film has also held onto its high Rotten Tomatoes rating with a 99 percent. Only one critic, Armond White from the National Review, gave it a rotten rating. However, as can be seen recently on Rotten Tomatoes panning critical favorite Logan, White has a history of contrary reviews. Meanwhile, he raved about the almost universally hated Dirty Grandpa.

After all of this good news, it’s no surprise that Peele is planning to write and direct several more movies. Next on his slate is the first of four additional social thrillers that he hopes to release within a 10-year time span. That’s an ambition plan, but the success of Get Out shows that Peele may have exactly what it takes to keep crafting well-thought-out social commentaries that double as horror films.

[Featured Image by Paras Griffin/Getty Images]

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