Hella spoilers. Like, I’m giving it up heavy so don’t read this until you’ve at least purchased a ticket to go see Us in theaters.
So this movie took me OUT. I’m going to hit you with my observations and take aways. We’re doing our usual list format.
Adelaide’s parents were something else…
So the girl is all by herself with parents that are more focused on fussing with one another than paying attention to their child. (This is the part that I’d put my elbows on my knees and lean my face in to give my Grandmother a knowing look). That baby was destined to be lost out the gate. There’s something about how her parents let her walk behind that irritated me from the start. Her dad was a drankin’ show-off and her mom was a straight up push-over. Woman Law 101- Bathroom is a group event! Since when did that not get passed down? I feel like I spent half of my childhood in the bathroom with the various women in my family. There is no “I don’t have to go”.
When they got their daughter back, they sat up in some therapist’s office and let this woman tell them what was wrong with their child. That girl’s Mother died thinking her child just had PTSD. I can’t tell you how many of us that grew up in The Middle got labeled with anger issues when really we just grew up in a fucked up house and the fact that we crumpled paper instead of fighting the people that put us in that situation means we were actually well adjusted. Be very clear, I believe in the power of therapy, but there are more than a few instances that girls like Adelaide get labeled and swept away from the door.
Code Switching is Real.
After making it to the ending and understanding that Adelaide is the fake and Red is the original one must take pause and consider the instruction given to young swapped out Adelaide to help her learn how to get along and look like she belongs. Instructions given by parents that didn’t even recognize the swap. Red told us that they were the perfect ones to start the revolution, and I believe that’s because their original parents were equipping them both with the tools to learn to adapt as a means of survival. Take note that Adelaide’s family had just enough to vacation with the Rich, but still bought the bootleg boat, drove the extra regular car while rubbing elbows with a family that had backup generators and a house wired to a digital assistant. White Supremacy permeated it’s ass all through both the above and beneath, and the role of the Black Woman in this America has historically been to figure out the rules, find a way to fit in and expose our children to more so that they understand it exists in an effort to help them climb higher than we’ve been able to. Even the Black Women in the tunnels eating raw rabbit had to learn that adaptation survival technique.
Who were those people?
There’s a lot of conversation surrounding Blackness and defining an “Us” and “Them” within the diaspora. At the risk of perpetuating a stereotype, those were the least Black acting, Black folks I’d ever seen in a scary situation on screen. Even Gabe’s attempt at a Blackcent with his very much chocolate exterior was CRINGEY. It felt like he put on a version of Blackness that he thought would evoke a fear response with his “Black Harvard” sweatshirt on sounding disconnected as an unpaid light bill. It made me wonder if Jordan wanted that conversation to happen in the early struggle moments, something to the tune of,”They ain’t US”. However as the characters became exposed to more adversity and hardship, they started acting more like “Us” and began listening to the directions being yelled at them on screen. We know that Jordan Peele writes in a way that we get to have those victories from the seat. I just found it interesting that everyone started to wise up and seem like”Us”. That made things tricky for me because as we hear the gutteral screams from Adelaide as she racks up kills it becomes a point of concern prior to the big reveal that she’s putting on a show.
There can only be one.
Did anyone else wonder where the rest of the Black people went? That was strange to me. While I’m used to it in horror films I wasn’t expecting it from Jordan Peele so I know that has to be intentional and speak to something. While technically there are 10 Black characters four of them are the Tethered. Had Adelaide’s family reached high enough in The Middle that they were the only ones? I know I’ve talked about it before, how some of us move up and attain that “almost made it” level of success which takes us away from the rest of Us. Was this the case in this movie? Would she not have been the perfect target had her family lived in the hood? Or was her virtual invisibility in an area devoid of our normal culture that encourages Group Patenting the perfect storm? Once we make it to “we’re the only Black___” is that the beginning of the danger?
Mind Control and The Black Family.
So, according to Red the people underneath were made to control the people above like puppets so my interpretation is that their swap is what showed that Adelaide decoded the system but Red dismantled it. When the son Jason figured out how to cause his double to stop the nonsense it put me in a quandary.
Possibility 1- Jason is from underneath and he’s seen the code to how to get the above people to perform.
Possibility 2- Jason broke away from his mother’s instructions and took a chance on himself and claimed ownership of the whole soul.
Either way, Jason is key to this theory of control. His characters Jason and Pluto represent the success or demise of the family. We watched the daughter Zora handle herself without fear. While yes, she was older it was clear that she’d been given a different set of standards in both worlds. While Jason was never far from his mother, both Zora and Umbrae were left to figure out how to succeed without much supervision. Thus the cycle continues of abandoned Black Women. When Adelaide saw Umbrae dying in the woods I feel like she saw herself in the face of her child’s double.
Now here’s the line that spun me.
“Mom knows what to do.” -Gabe
While I want to accept the “Trust Black Women” message, I’m imagining myself descending into a pit to fight for my life knowing my man is crippled and it’s all on me and I was not ready for that moment.
Gabe was not of much use in the end. He took out Abraham and the White dude and sat his ass down. I want to get upset, but he arguably had the hardest fights and they left him depleted. Is that what’s happening to our Men outside of movie land? I took pause.
I want to know what you all think and what messages you saw while watching. If ever there was a movie on theme with Surviving and Thriving in America “Us” is it.
I just hope I don’t have a double though, because that Bish knows karate and how to fight with knives. -Black Maggie
Thanks for reading, see you in the comment section.