One of the biggest genre sensations in recent years was filmmaker Jordan Peele's directorial debut Get Out, focusing on a black man visiting his white girlfriend's family for the first time, only to discover the family's evil intentions of implanting the minds of aging white characters into the bodies of black victims' bodies. In addition to being a terrifying, straightforward horror film, Peele expertly used the narrative to reflect racial politics into the film, heightening the film's effectiveness. His follow-up film, Us, also focused on black lead characters, a trend which he doesn't see himself breaking from, given how many horror films have focused on white characters over the decades.
"I don't see myself casting a white dude as the lead in my movie. Not that I don't like white dudes," Peele shared during a panel about his film [H/T The Hollywood Reporter]. "But I've seen that movie. It really is one of the best, greatest pieces of this story, is feeling like we are in this time — a renaissance has happened and proved the myths about representation in the industry are false."
The horror genre, along with virtually every other genre, has long been dominated by white characters. Even when a film's cast would include people of color, they were often supporting characters who fell victim to the narrative's villain, creating a trope that any black character in a movie was destined to die.
Peele noted that, of the many things he's proud of accomplishing with his films, one thing that he's most proud of is making the horror genre feel more inclusive.
"The way I look at it," Peele noted, "I get to cast black people in my movies. I feel fortunate to be in this position where I can say to Universal, 'I want to make a $20 million horror movie with a black family.' And they say yes."
Audiences have already proven how successful Peele's objectives have been, with Get Out earning $255 million worldwide on a budget of $5 million and Us scoring $70 million in its opening weekend, making it not only the third-biggest opening of an R-rated movie,but also the second-biggest opening of a live-action non-sequel, behind only Avatar.
Us is currently in theaters. Peele's reboot of The Twilight Zone debuts on CBS All Access on April 1st.
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