Jordan Peele rocked the world and Hollywood with his first psych-thriller “Get Out”, so it was obviously a given that his new film, “Us”, would bring out the masses. This is especially true for the black community. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew I wasn’t about to miss Lupita’s gorgeous ass break records all over the silver screen, so boom! I got together with a group of friends and settled in for the movie. I had seen a lot of mixed reviews on social media prior to going, so I was interested to see what the hype (and the hate) was about. Once the movie was over, I felt indifferent. I needed more time to really analyze the message. After a little research, I came up with a few points to highlight and what I think that means for us.
Spoiler Alert: The general plot of the movie is that each person had a doppelgänger (or shadow version of themselves) that was tethered to them. These doppelgängers were forced to live a lesser version of their tethers’ lives underground. Lupita’s character, Adelaide, wonders off as a child and ends up meeting her tether, who then kidnaps her and switches lives. So, in the end, we find out that the real Adelaide had been underground all along while her doppelgänger lived her life above ground. Alright, so here’s my breakdown:
1. We are our own worst enemies. PERIOD!
Each character was battling a lesser version of themselves. If that’s not a message, what is? In life, we sabotage ourselves. A LOT! Not only personally, but as societies and communities, too. We are in constant battle with our higher and lesser selves. On a personal note, we could be battling anxiety, depression, addiction, laziness, greed, self-doubt and the list goes on. On a public note, we spend a lot of time fighting each other. This applies both inside and outside of our communities. Our country is literally in a brutal battle of “who deserves more” on a daily basis. Republicans vs Democrats, POC vs Non-POC, men vs women, LGBTQ vs Hetero-Cis folks. It’s never ending! In the black community specifically, this logic could apply to black on black crimes of all kind including, but not limited to, gun violence, poverty, rape and abuse. At the end of the day, we’re our own worst enemies and, to me, there’s nothing more human than that.
2. There are no heroes or villains.
We spent the whole movie rooting for the Adelaide that we THOUGHT was the protagonist. The whole time, sis was actually the villain. Or was she? Each tether had their own reasons for the things they did. Shadow Adelaide switched lives with the real one and can we blame her? Then, the real Adelaide came back for blood (and sunlight). Can we blame her either? In real life, we all have good and bad in us. At our core, we are both hero and villain. It all comes down to what we choose. Do we choose to walk towards the light more or do we choose to succumb to the darkness more often? We have to make choices on a daily basis and some of them are darker than others. I heard somewhere “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Sometimes, we do f***ed up s*** with the best intent.
3. Everybody has a shadow self.
Ever heard of Carl Jung? He believed that everyone has a shadow self, or darker side to their personality. We are groomed as children to “be good.” We are encouraged to delight in the lighter side of things as human beings, right? We welcome love, laughter, sweetness and beauty with open arms. We bury pain, despair, bitterness and ugliness. Then, we try to forget about it. That actually doesn’t work. You have to acknowledge that there are parts of yourself and life that don’t always feel good or seem right. Unpack it. Process it. Understand it. I believe the way to find personal balance is to make peace between your lighter and darker sides. Finding balance requires full acknowledgement of who you are, who you can become and who you want to be ultimately. If your life were a color spectrum, with one extreme being white and the other black, which color would you choose to balance out at? It’s not in anyone’s best interest to try and balance at either extreme. In my opinion, the best colors exist somewhere in the middle.
4. The United States Government is complicit and so are we.
The circumstances in our country are worsening despite technological advancement, higher education and social awareness. In the movie, a major point of reference was the way the tethered held hands across the land. This refers to the “Hands Across America” campaign (remember underground Adelaide’s T-shirt?). Hands Across America was a campaign formed in 1986 that promoted forming a human chain across the country to raise money for poverty. They raised $34 million, but after operating costs, there was only $15 million left to be distributed to those in need. We spend a lot of time hyping up “help”. It looks good, too. But what are we actually doing to improve and uplift our communities. We build campaigns for the “greater good” but rarely do we see that good at work after the promotional parts are over. We vote for politicians and hope that they’ll use their positions to make our communities better. Better rarely comes, yet we continue to entrust our livelihoods to them, while they line their pockets. Then, we just simply complain until election time rolls around again.
5. Our days are just as scary as our nights.
If you’ve seen the movie, you know that the ending and plot twist happen in broad daylight. Much like the foolishness we see every day. There used to be a time when it was safe to be out during the day. As long as you were in before the street lights, it was all good. Now, a lot of the things we fear the most happen in broad day…and we just sit there and watch. I heard Charlemagne the God give a man Donkey of the Day the other morning for kicking an elderly woman in the face on a train. The video of this heinous bulls*** ended up on World Star. So, yeah…. A bunch of people watched and recorded a man violate an elderly woman in broad daylight…and did nothing. People used to be able to let their kids play in the front yard without worrying about someone snatching them up. That’s a thing of the past. Hell, where I’m from, young dudes will ride around and shoot in the middle of the day like it’s midnight on New Year’s. I won’t even get started on the horror movie that is the White House.
6. A revolution is coming, honey.
Not to sound like whole conspiracy theorist, but the bible verse Jeremiah 11:11 was referenced quite a bit.
“Therefore, this is what the LORD says: I will bring on them a disaster they cannot escape. Although they cry out to me, I will not listen to them.”
This verse deals with the Jewish exile from Babylon, but it’s eerily similar to our way of life today. In the verse before (Jeremiah 11:10) mentions that:
“they have returned to the sins of their forefathers, who refused to obey My words.”
If that’s not some scary s***, I don’t know what is. As a society, we continually make the same mistakes. History always seems to repeat itself, doesn’t it? The fact the verse chosen has the numbers 11:11 is special in several ways. The double number vs. doppelgängers. The number eleven is said to signify intuition, insight and enlightenment. When paired together, 11:11 is a clear message from the universe to become conscious and aware, which I feel is Jordan Peele’s whole goal anyway. If you add all the 1s (or add 11:11 and keep adding the numbers), you’ll get 4. 4 signifies stability, order and the completion of justice. Lastly, the number 1 itself means the aspiration of humankind and what we hope to achieve. Maze & Frankie Beverly said it best: “We are one and that’s the way it is.” What are we aspiring towards? Faith without work is dead but work without faith (or reason) is pointless.
This movie had a ton of symbolism and lot of it wasn’t easy to understand, but here’s the thing: We get fixated on parts of life that don’t even matter. For instance, I’m sure a lot of people are annoyed that the movie doesn’t give much background on how the doppelgängers ended up underground. Doesn’t matter. What matters is what happens now and ultimately, I think that’s the real message for us. What happened then, happened. What do we do now?
Until next time, stay woke & protect your magic…