Get Out Golden Globes

What began as an amusing piece of awards season news has blown into a much larger conversation. Jordan Peele‘s Get Out, one of the best and most financially successful movies of 2017, has been categorized as a comedy by Hollywood Foreign Press Association. That means that it will qualify in the “Best Comedy or Musical” category at next year’s Golden Globes, should it earn the nomination. That’s a weird fit for a horror movie, albeit a horror movie with plenty of comic relief.

Naturally, the internet had a lot of say about this, and now Peele himself has joined the conversation.

First, Jordan Peele responded to the whole discussion with what looks like a joke tweet. But like aspects of Get Out itself, it’s a gag in appearance only – absurdity used to mask a greater truth (which was often the strength of the best Key & Peele sketches, from back when he was known as a comedic performer and not an acclaimed filmmaker).

At a recent event promoting the movie (Get Out is looking like a genuine dark horse contender for awards this year), Peele was pretty blunt about the conversation surrounding his movie’s genre classification. For starters, he feels that “putting it in a box” trivializes what the movie is trying to do (via IndieWire):

I think the issue here is that the movie subverts the idea of all genres. Call it what you want, but the movie is an expression of my truth, my experience, the experiences of a lot of black people, and minorities. Anyone who feels like the other. Any conversation that limits what it can be is putting it in a box.

This is part of a larger conversation the movie fans have been having for years. How do we even define genre at this point? Get Out is funny, but it is also scary and thrilling and designed to reflect reality through a twisted funhouse mirror. People complain about comedies not getting nominated at the Academy Awards all the time, but the Golden Globes set-up feels even more dangerous – by splitting things down a comedy versus drama path, nuance is lost.

Plus, Peele said that the movie hits people too hard to be written off as a lark, which is something that often comes with the comedy label:

What the movie is about is not funny. I’ve had many black people come up to me and say, ‘man, this is the movie we’ve been talking about for a while and you did it.’ That’s a very powerful thing. For that to be put in a smaller box than it deserves is where the controversy comes from.

And that brings us back to the “documentary” joke. Peele shared his worry that laughing at Get Out would dull its most potent points and distract from the fact that the film is about something terrifying and personal for millions of Americans:

The major point to identify here is that we don’t want our truth trivialized. The label of comedy is often a trivial thing. The real question is, what are you laughing at? Are you laughing at the horror, the suffering? Are you disregarding what’s real about this project? That’s why I said, yeah — it’s a documentary.

This is looking like a weak year for prestige awards movies and Get Out, which was universally loved by critics and audiences, could slip in and grab the spotlight. If that means Jordan Peele’s work being seen by more people – and Peele himself getting the chance to talk about his movie and chip away at genre divisions – we’re in for an excellent few months.

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