In the final harrowing act of Get Out, Chris has been hypnotized and strapped to a chair in the Armitages’ basement. An old TV before him flickers on, and who else is there but Jim Hudson, lying in what looks like an operating room. Jim tells Chris the true nature of the mysterious process the Armitages are subjecting him to: transplantation. Tears fall from Chris’s eyes as he realizes what must have been done to Logan, Georgina, and Walter, and what will soon be done to him—Jim’s brain will be transplanted into his head, and Jim will take full control of his body, while Chris looks on from a corner of his consciousness. When Chris asks, “Why us? Why black people?” Jim scoffs, saying he couldn’t care less what race Chris is. He has loftier, artistic reasons. “I want your eyes, man,” Jim growls, in one of the film’s creepier lines. “I want those things you see through.”
It’s a terrifying, revealing exchange in a film rife with terrifying, revealing exchanges. It is also of a piece with Get Out’s broader social commentary, particularly its clear takedown of well-meaning white liberals and those who believe in a post-racial America. So, of course the man who wants to steal Chris’s body from him is not only blind, but also “colorblind.” He comes off as the kind of person who’d say he doesn’t “see race” while caring very little about the wellbeing of black Americans.
But Jim wants something much more existentially fraught than Chris’s artistic sensibility: He wants to possess the particular way that Chris views the world. I want those things you see through. In other words, I want to look at the world through your eyes. He wants to inhabit Chris’s body for what he sees as its superior physical abilities. But it’s hard to believe that Jim wants, or even fully grasps, any of the specific challenges or complexities that come with actually being black. To people like Jim, as Steven Thrasher noted in Esquire, “‘black muscle’ can be useful if separated from its black mind, emotions, and politics.” And indeed, Get Out is broadly concerned with race and body politics, as others have thoughtfully written about.
Still, over the other bodily senses, vision has long been the most intuitive metaphor for discussing subjective experience. Just as the sense of touch is often evoked to discuss compassion or empathy (“I feel you”), vision is closely linked to a person’s unique way of knowing the world. Peele himself has used the language of sight when discussing how he wanted Get Out to be an inclusive film: “You can ask a white person to see the world through the eyes of a black person for an hour and a half.” It would seem a more casual word choice if not for how literally Get Out uses vision—via eyes or camera lens—to underscore Chris’s very justified paranoia, discomfort, and fear in response to the story’s white characters. Writing for The New Yorker, Richard Brody argued that, in radically portraying a world seen through a black man’s eyes, Get Out also “contains some of the most piercing, painful point-of-view shots in the recent cinema.”