'Get Out' was the Inspiration Behind a New UCLA College Course on Racism & Horror
Upon its release in February, Jordan Peele’s Get Out was declared a masterpiece by everyone, except Armond White. It will be years before we see the full impact of Get Out on pop culture and on art.
Due, who has written books like My Soul to Keep and The Living Blood, has taught a class on Afrofuturism at UCLA for years. This fall Due has something else up her sleeves. On September 28th she will start teaching a course called “The Sunken Place: Racism, Survival, and Black Horror Aesthetic,” a class about the history of black people in horror films.
It was a class, Due — and the title — says, was inspired by Get Out:
“But the idea for the course, specifically, came because Jordan Peele dropped Get Out when I was teaching my Afrofuturism course last spring at UCLA. And it was one of those things where the timing wasn’t quite right and I thought, “Oh, I wish I used that in the course…”
I’ve taught the Afrofuturism course, I think, about four times. And I thought, “You know…horror, to me, is a subset of Afrofuturism, in that fantasy is a subset of Afrofuturism.” So, I decided, instead of doing the broader course, why not just break open black horror? Because Get Out is not the first black-made horror film, but it’s definitely the most successful. And I think it definitely has the ability to be culture-changing, let’s say.”
Due says that upon the release of the new movie, she saw a tangible difference when it comes to pitching to Hollywood. Prior to Get Out, there was no reference point of what a horror movie centered on black people looked like, In fact, Due says that for years their biggest reference point was the 1998 movie Beloved:
“That was the only reference point a lot of these executives had for what black horror would look like…Jonathan Demme did the film and—you know, of course I have the greatest admiration for Toni Morrison and that’s a Nobel-Prize winning novel—but the film did not do that great at the box office. So, it was always an awkward comparison in a pitch scenario. Just this year, just recently, we were talking to some network execs about a pilot we were developing…and they were like, “Oh, like in Get Out. You can do — blahbiddyblahbiddyblah…” And it’s not that it’s anything similar to Get Out, it’s just that was now the new framework. That’s what black horror looks like: Get Out.”
The entire interview is fascinating. Due goes on to talk about some of the material she wants to use at UCLA, from Birth of a Nation to White Zombie to Blacula to Tales from the Hood.