MOVIES

What Is The Sunken Place & How Does Jordan Peele See It?

In the aftermath of the original release of “Get Out,” it makes sense that Jordan Peele had a lot to say about the specific narrative device known as the Sunken Place. In March 2017, the director posted on X (formerly known as Twitter) about the real meaning of the Sunken Place as it pertains to Black lives, writing, “The Sunken Place means we’re marginalized. No matter how hard we scream, the system silences us.”

Elsewhere, in a roundtable discussion with directors like Greta Gerwig and Darren Aronofsky held by the Los Angeles Times, Peele said that the Sunken Place also represented two very specific things: the prison-industrial complex in the United States and the role of Black people in movies, horror and otherwise. “There’s lots of different sunken places,” Peele said. “But this one specifically became a metaphor for the prison-industrial complex, the lack of representation of black people in film, in genre. The reason Chris in the film is falling into this place, being forced to watch this screen, that no matter how hard he screams at the screen he can’t get agency across. He’s not represented.”

Peele noted that he believes Black moviegoers do attend horror movies only to see an all-too-familiar trope where characters of color die first and leave white characters to conclude the story: “So the movie for me became almost about representation within the genre, within itself, in a weird way.”



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