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Fear of a White Village

by Ross Douthat

In Get Out, a horror movie and race-relations satire that’s become the surprise hit of the season, there is, shall we say, a great deal going on. The movie’s premise is basically Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner meets Rosemary’s Baby, in which a gracious white family welcomes their daughter and her black boyfriend to their country home . . . and gradually he realizes that they have something unguessably monstrous planned for him.

As conceived and directed by Jordan Peele, half of the popular sketch-comedy duo Key and Peele, the plot of Get Out turns on two of-the-moment racial anxieties — the black fear that whites will always find a way to exploit and brutalize “black bodies” (to borrow the locution of Ta-Nehisi Coates), and the white fear of ethno-cultural displacement, of a future that belongs to “other people’s babies” (to borrow the words of Iowa congressman Steve King) while whiteness gets swallowed up in death.

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