A lot of folks online have been seen to be quite upset with Jordan Peele’s allusions that he doesn’t intend to cast white leads in any near-future projects. He tweeted something to the effect of, ‘Been there, seen that’. Many have taken umbrage with that, but I would caution against a knee-jerk reaction. This is a storyteller effectively saying, ‘I’d like to offer a view seen less frequently, not as broadly explored.’
To which I would reply, “Brava, do carry on and tell your tale, then”. After all, people didn’t claim he wanted no white audience members, so it doesn’t strike me as exclusionary. As the creator of his fiction, it is entirely his choice how to present the tale, from plot and narrative devices, down to casting and who to include in his dramatis personae (cast and descriptions of characters within). I genuinely don’t believe he meant any offense, and certainly, for me, none was taken.
Likewise, I’m not entirely sure if the Netflix series ‘Chambers’ is what has been dog-whistled by at least one outlet as ‘A Look At the Terror of Whiteness’ (source: online article sourced by Tim Poole of Youtube). I’m interested in seeing the show, and will withhold overall judgment of the show until after I’ve seen it. Based upon previews and some base concept info I’ve read, this is likely not a socio-political story at heart, but rather, it is based on anecdotal medical fringe fact (tales of organ transplant recipients suddenly behaving differently or erratically), ‘body horror’ narratives (as portrayed in ‘District 9’, ‘Contracted’, and even ‘The Fly’), and fear of ‘The Other/The Outsider’, one of the 5 primary Fear Types. We’re not exactly exploring wholly unknown terrain here, after all.
Allow me to draw a parallel, if I may, to one of the Titans of the genre: The Curious Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. You may immediately think I’m off my rocker here, but hear me out. Our protagonist, Jekyll, undergoes a medical procedure in the concoction and ingestion of his experimental elixir. After the procedure, he undergoes a startling transformation, his mind and body taken over by this terrifying ‘other’, Mr. Hyde. Hyde’s behavior and manner are monstrous, anathema to Jekyll, repulsive and alien. Is this really so far removed from the crisis faced by the lead of ‘Chambers’, or the cast of ‘Get Out’?
Strange ‘Other’ attempts to take over/change protagonist against their will. Battle of souls ensues. Roll credits.
Going even further back, we find the un-copyrighted roots of this narrative in tales of the ‘nachtrichen’, the werewolves, in Germanic and Austrian folklore, the ‘skinwalkers’ of Native American legends. The premise is not new, and certainly not political.
So instead of getting angry, mayhap, I’d offer, we get inquisitive, and get reading.