Tag Archives: Jordan Peele

Jordan Peele and Spike Lee to bring “Black Klansman” to big screen

What is the only way for Jordan Peele to follow up from Get Out? To tell the true story of a black man who infiltrated the KKK.

Shadow and Act has reported that Peele has partnered with Spike Lee to create the thriller Black Klansman. The film will focus on the true story of Ron Stallworth, a black police officer who was able to infiltrate the KKK. This project will finally bring John David Washington, the son of Denzel Washington, to the big screen in a big way. Currently, Washington stars on Ballers, but this film, which will start production in the fall, could really make Washington a huge film star.

Peele will produce with Lee, who will also act as director. Blumhouse Productions, who helped bring Get Out to theaters, is also behind the film as a producer. Peele and Lee, according to The Hollywood Reporter, have been working on this film for the past two years.

According to Shadow and Act via The Hollywood Reporter, the film will tell the story of Stallworth who, in 1978, answered an ad in the local newspaper looking for new Klan members.

“He not only gained membership, but rose through the ranks to become the head of the local chapter. Stallworth, who is black, was able to gather all sorts of intelligence by pretending to be a white supremacist on the phone or via other forms of correspondence but sent a white fellow officer in his place for any in-person meetings,” wrote The Hollywood Reporter. “During his undercover work, Stallworth managed to sabotage several cross-burnings and other activities of the notorious hate group.”

Stallworth wrote a book about his work in 2014 called—you guessed it—Black Klansman.

The theatrical release date hasn’t been announced, but is it too early to say that this might be up for Oscar noms when it comes out?

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Mediaversity Reviews: “Get Out”

Originally published on Mediaversity

Title: Get Out (2017)
Director: Jordan Peele 👨🏽🇺🇸
Writer: Jordan Peele 👨🏽🇺🇸

Reviewed by Li 👩🏻🇺🇸

Quality: 5/5
Get Out lives up to the enormous hype. A plethora of traditional film reviews can speak to the nuances of the writing, directing, genre-bending, and historical and social contexts, so I’ll just leave you with a succinct quote from Paul Whitington’s review in the Irish Independent:

“Get Out is so clever you could write a thesis on it the length of War and Peace.”

Gender: 2.5/5
Does it pass the Bechdel Test? NO
While none of the female portrayals were offensive, their screen time, number of speaking roles, and levels of sympathy were dwarfed by those of the male characters. Look, Get Out has no interest in discussing feminism or gender equality. But that isn’t a bad thing. On the contrary, a tightly-executed film with a narrow focus is often stronger than a film that tries to do too much.

In this vein, similar to my feelings on Donald Glover’s TV series Atlanta or Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, I might love and support Get Out wholeheartedly but would be remiss to score it above a middling grade on Gender.

Race: 5/5
Peele points his finger at American society and lets us know that, dammit, the emperor has no clothes on. White America might look relatively harmless in 2017 (or, at least it did in 2016), but underneath all that self-congratulatory noise about living in a post-racial society, Peele makes the convincing case that white Americans have craved ownership of black bodies for the entirety of our country’s violent history and continue to do so.

He challenges the notion that we’ve made any progress at all. Is today’s coded control of black communities via rigged legal systems, disproportionate levels of incarceration, and cultural appropriation actually any better than literal slavery? It’s a topic few are able to unpack, especially in less than two hours, yet somehow Get Out winks at centuries of painful history and honors it with an absurd, no-bullshit de-pantsing of race in America. No sin is left unturned—every small micro-aggression hints at entire tragedies such as police brutality or sexual objectification, and Peele even finds time to comment on Asian participation in anti-blackness through a single line, as detailed by Ranier Maningding on NextShare.

Meanwhile, one of the most complicated and internal struggles minorities face, cultural appropriation, gets an onscreen embodiment as well. As Amandla Stenberg explains, “Appropriation occurs when a style leads to racist generalizations or stereotypes where it originated, but is deemed as high fashion, cool, or funny when the privileged take it for themselves.” For the black community, this could look like Miley Cyrus wearing cornrows and twerking, profiting immensely from the controversy. For Asian-Americans, this could sound like studios who say they are “paying homage” as they profit from Asian stories (Ghost in the Shell, Altered Carbon) or stereotypes (Iron Fist, Last Samurai).

Cultural appropriation is so insidious because of its blurred lines between “inspiration” and “theft” which are especially difficult to navigate for those in societal positions of power. All the more reason Get Out feels so necessary; it finds a way to bridge this disconnect, giving viewers a peek behind the curtain of the minority experience where they can feel for themselves the horror of having one’s identity and agency robbed from them for profit, victims able to do naught but watch on helplessly from the Sunken Place.

By the end of the film, we see the ugly guts of America’s racial history spilled out on the streets and are left with no choice but to leave the theater, chuckling a bit but thinking a lot.

LGBTQ: N/A
No representation but too short a program to ding them for it.

However, due to the allegorical nature of Get Out, I found that the racial anxieties explored in the film could be used as a thought exercise for other marginalized groups—for example, the experience of being queer in America. In the same way Peele suggests we lose some of ourselves by “acting white”, is there a similar loss of identity when LGBTQ individuals “act straight” or attempt to “pass”? What’s more important to us—celebrating our vibrant cultures and fighting for acceptance while staying authentic, or do we take the path of least resistance and lobotomize ourselves in order to assimilate into straight and/or white America for access to social and economic opportunities?

Through the lens of the black experience, Get Out presents the tension between the self and the performance for society—of having a double-identity. But this tension is hardly limited to black individuals; rather, it’s an overarching hallmark of the marginalized experience, whether that means being a woman worried about sounding too aggressive during a meeting, or an introvert trying not to seem “anti-social” at a party. Herein lies the magic of Get Out: it strikes a chord with so many viewers and in such personal ways.

Mediaversity Grade: B+ 4.17/5
Jordan Peele sows the seeds and we water, nurture, and let bloom our own ideas of what Get Out means to us. Are we the oppressed, like Chris, who just want to live our lives without being interrupted by the crime of existing? Or are we the inadvertent oppressors, who awkwardly code-switch when we meet black individuals? More interestingly, are we both? For an Asian-American such as myself, I relate to the minority experience of being used and erased by white America, yet I also recognize the relative economic privilege of East Asians and the fiscal conservatism of my own parents—positions that sustain systemic oppression of low-income communities.

Get Out is the mirror held up to our faces that forces us to to pause and think about our own culpability in contributing to cultural tensions. The virtuosity with which Peele weaves together this complex social commentary with genuine comedy alongside eerie, horror-flick thrills, is impressive to say the least.

“Get Out” earns rare 100 percent fresh rating, becomes critical darling

Daniel Kaluuya in “Get Out.” (Universal Pictures)

Jordan Peele’s debut horror film, Get Out, is getting audiences out to the movie theaters. (Get what I did there? I’m here all week.)

In all seriousness, Get Out is killing it at the box office and currently reigns as the number one film in America.

The Hollywood Reporter has the deets:

“The race-concious horror film Get Out—marking Jordan Peele’s feature directorial debut—will easily win the Friday box office with a projected $9.5 million-$10.5 milloin from 2,781 theaters for a weekend debut in the $25 million -$28 million range, according to early returns.”

The film has also garnered the coveted (and rare) 100 percent fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus so, as Rotten Tomatoes states, is:

“Funny, scary, and thought-provoking, Get Out seamlessly weaves its trenchant social critiques into a brilliantly effective and entertaining horror/comedy thrill ride.”

Here are some of what critics across the country have had to say about Get Out:

“In most slasher flicks, a guy like Chris would die first. Peele’s joke is that the cliché has it backwards. Young black men know their lives are in peril from the first frame.” —Amy Nicholson, MTV

“Get Out is the satirical horror movie we’ve been waiting for, a mash-up of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? and The Stepford Wives that’s more fun than either and more illuminating, too.”—David Edelstein, Vulture

“A refined suspense thriller, consummate film critique, savage satire, inspired horror and fierce, profane comedy. It’s archetypal, prodigious American moviemaking, smart and sly… a succession of shocking, often thrilling satisfactions.”—Ray Pride, Newcity

“One of the boldest, most audacious major studio movies to come along in quite some time. From the opening titles to the end credits, Get Out holds you in its grasp.”—Mike McGranaghan, Aisle Seat

Have you seen Get Out? What do you think? Give your mini-reviews in the comments section below!

Emmys 1, Oscars 0: How TV’s Biggest Night Celebrated Diverse Storytelling

Rami Malek after winning his Emmy for "Mr. Robot." (ABC/Image Group LA)
Rami Malek after winning his Emmy for “Mr. Robot.”
(ABC/Image Group LA)

“Please tell me you’re seeing this too,” said Rami Malek as he accepted his Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. His work on Mr. Robot is awe-inspiring, but it’s also absolutely necessary. While Malek’s character Elliot succinctly sums up the post-tech malaise and loneliness due to not fitting into society’s herd mentality, Malek also, quietly led a revolution just by being himself. Malek is of Egyptian descent, and as such, he’s become the first actor of color in 18 years to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. 

18 yearsThat means a lot.

That means for as long as a non-white kid, let’s say a Middle Eastern kid, someone like Ahmed Mohamed, aka “Clock Boy,” has been alive, there hasn’t been an actor of Middle Eastern/North African descent who the Emmys have deemed “worthy enough” to win, despite the fact that tons of Middle Eastern and other non-white actors are out there, ready and willing to show off their gifts. A kid like Mohamed hasn’t been able to see himself portrayed positively on television, and this means that others watching TV haven’t been able to see positive representations of Middle Eastern characters either; all they and Mohamed see are their people as terrorists.

When all you’re seen as is a terrorist, then it’s no wonder why someone with a vivid imagination, hopped up on discriminatory and xenophobia from the TV screen, would paint a smart, innocent kid like Mohamed, a kid who could have potentially been a bright light pushing America towards a more industrial-sound, innovative future, gets labeled as a terrorist for bringing his model of a clock to school to show his science teacher.

Related: America Backs Wrongly-Accused Teen Ahmed Mohamed With #IStandwithAhmed

Before you say, “There are clearly more factors into why that kid was mistreated,” let me be the first to say, yes, there are many more factors. The adults in that situation could have been adults and realized that this intelligent kid was hoping those he viewed as mentors would see, acknowledge, and encourage his gifts. The adults in this situation already had their own fears that they put upon this boy. But let’s also acknowledge how our perceptions of the world and each other filter their way through our televisions every day. When you see others as terrorists, thugs, nerdy comic relief, submissive and/or hypersexualized objects, and other dehumanizing stereotypes on TV day in and day out, society as a whole begins to view the real life counterparts as those stereotypes, despite the fact that stereotypes are lies.

Malek’s win should be an uplifting moment for every brown kid looking at the screen, daring to hope that they can be seen as mysterious and heroic, that they can be viewed as a well-rounded, deeply layered individual. The same goes for Alan Yang and Aziz Ansari’s wins for Outstanding for a Comedy Series. Their work on Master of None has, despite criticisms about the cookie-cutter sameness of the woman cast as Ansari’s girlfriend, helped create a platform for Asian American voices to finally tell their stories. With Ansari as the lead and Ansari and Yang’s writing propelling immigrant stories in the much-lauded episode “Parents,” the two were able to smash the Model Minority myth as well as the myth that Asian Americans can’t be mainstream leading men.

While Master of None directly spoke to the immigrant experience, Malek himself spoke to his own experience as the child of immigrants.

Related: The Next Omar Sharif: Why Finding the Next Middle Eastern Hollywood Star is Easier Than We Think

The Emmys also celebrated the stories of layered women, including the performances of Regina King in American Crime, to Julia Louis-Dreyfuss in Veep, to Sarah Paulson in The People vs. O.J. Simpson, to Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black (who literally has to play multiple characters in the same scene), and many more. Jill Soloway, writer/director of Transparent and the star of Jeffrey Tambor were awarded for their work on the groundbreaking show featuring the journey of a family as they loved the main character through her transition. But while the show has been part of overarching criticism about Hollywood refusing to cast trans actors and actresses for roles, Tambor took his opportunity on stage to demand for Hollywood to cast trans actors and actresses, making it clear that he recognizes the privilege that allowed him to play his Emmy-winning role.

Courtney B. Vance, Sterling K. Brown, and Keith David all won Emmys too; Vance for his leading role in limited series The People vs. O.J. Simpson, Brown for his supporting role in The People vs O.J. Simpson, and Keith David for his narration for documentary Jackie Robinson. Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele won for their hilariously creepy work on Key & Peele. RuPaul finally won for the stellar RuPaul’s Drag Race and the stories of those with Down’s syndrome were recognized with a win for reality show Born This Way.

Overall, the Emmys shamed the Oscars. Even though there’s still more work to be done when it comes to portraying a much wider array of stories on both the big and little screen, it’s clear TV has a better handle on the battle than the movie industry does. In a year when we experienced the zenith of #OscarsSoWhite, the Emmys has given the Oscars a masterclass on how to respect and award stories different than than the “white male lead” vehicle. The actors and actresses awarded Sunday night have given voice to so many of the voiceless, and the Emmys has not only bolstered their platforms; it’s bolstered those who believed no one would listen to them. Now that there’s a clearer path towards recognition, perhaps we’ll see less terrorists on TV, hapless nerdy stereotypes, one-dimensional women, LGBT stereotypes, and offensive stereotypes of people with disabilities. We’re nearing the day when everyone will be given their just due to tell their stories the way they see fit. Hopefully, we’re nearing an age where we can see everyone’s humanity first.

When he won his Emmy, Malek said to the audience, “Please tell me you’re seeing this too.” We’re definitely seeing it, this change happening in television, and hopefully it sticks around.