Satire in Movies

Jasmine Fernandez, Editor-In-Chief

With Jordan Peele’s Get Out winning at the 90th Academy Awards ceremony on Sun., Mar. 4, I noticed something interesting about the world we live in: not many people seem to understand the worth of satire in today’s media, particularly in the case of Peele’s film, a commentary on the history and struggles of African-American society. It is no coincidence than the horror-thriller was also marketed as a comedy.


In order to understand satire, one needs to understand the film’s message, whether that message is on the surface or hidden deep within the plot. Regardless of how complex morals and themes could be in regards to competing films during award season, Get Out’s appeal lies in the reader’s ability to comprehend the gravity of the plot in the context of modern-day America. The reason people herald the film as a leap for black filmmakers is not because it is a comedy that boomed at the box office; it manages to capture everything wrong with white people’s interpretation of black people in a medium that resonates with audiences beyond its target one. Peele even admits to writing the film as an exegesis after the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012.


What originally started as a movie to combat the lie that America had become post-racial became a movie where the cat is out of bag, and now we’re having this conversation,” Peele told the New York Times. “It became less about trying to create wokeness and more about trying to offer us a hero out of this turmoil, to offer escape and joy.”


There is a fine line between the motives of commentary and the motives of satire; the former is meant to inform whereas the latter tends to have a comedic flip while maintaining the same narrative quality a commentary has. To forgo a film’s satiric significance is to forgo its entire purpose—it would not be dissimilar to ignoring the allegory in The Little Prince or Dr. Seuss’s “The Sneeches.” In a world wracked by the casualties of day-to-day ignorance, sometimes humor is the only way to tap into the minds of those perpetuating it. While its effectiveness can be debated, it is undoubtedly true that works like Get Out garner attention from all across the globe—tangible figures such as box office sales and website hits prove that.

However, the intangible—conversations, ideas, attitudes—reflects just how deeply satire can affect. From the renewed notoriety police brutality has earned to a shift in the very foundation of the way we as consumers approach black film, Get Out staked a claim in the midst of Hollywood’s most volatile era and proved to moviegoers that films do not need to be as formulaic as white creators have established. Transcending genre, time, and barriers, Peele’s impact upon the Academy Awards is just the start of what is to come.