Jordan Peele (Nope): “I wanted to do something about our relationship to entertainment and money”

Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us) signs with Nope a new unidentified filmic object that questions our gaze and our morbid need for attention.

Some see him as the new Hitchcock. Nothing less. We would be more tempted to make it the spiritual son of Steven Spielberg or M. Night Shyamalan. With Boop today, he signs in any case the summer blockbuster that the world needed: effective and clever. But who is Jordan Peele?

Born in New York at the end of the 1970s to a black father and a white mother, the fellow made his classes as a comedian from the beginning of the 2000s on television in the series mad tv then create the sketch factory Key & Peele on Comedy Central. The show is a success and is even awash in awards. No one, however, anticipated the perfect hold-up that Peele was then secretly preparing behind the scenes. In 2017, in fact, he signed his first feature film as a solo director: get-out, little broke film that electrifies America by passing racial stereotypes through a horrific grinder. Mixed couple seeming to spin the perfect love, Rose and Chris decide to formalize their relationship there with the WASP parents to the tips of their nails during a weekend out of time in their country house. “Don’t go to your white girlfriend’s parents’,” panics, half-laughing, Chris’s best friend: in his mouth, the warning rings out like a meta horror movie rule at the scream. The sequel brilliantly rhymes terror and politics without ever departing from a humor that Peele obviously has very… black. The budding filmmaker also claims that the idea of get-out would have come to him from a stand-up show signed Eddie Murphy where the latter mocked racial prejudice. “Just because you’re invited doesn’t mean you’re welcome,” warns the film’s poster. In effect…

It’s Jordan Peele’s art to successfully bridge the gap between old immemorial fears and the immediacy of pop culture.

Less a pamphleteer fable than a hyperbolic X-ray of America’s sick psyche, get-out instantly propels Jordan Peele into the very closed circle of filmmakers with whom it will now be necessary to reckon. The guy does not fail to make this golden opportunity profitable, especially since, in the process, he goes down in history by becoming the first African-American to win theOscar for best original screenplay for this film. At the head of Monkeypaw Productionshis own box, he produces the BlacKkKlansman of Spike Lee, creates for YouTube the series Weird City (comic cousin of black-mirror) and revives one of its key influences, the cult series The Twilight Zone. In 2019, he returns behind the camera with Us, a small filmic disappointment which nevertheless drives the point home in its exploration of the America of the damned – that of minorities and the oppressed. There where get-out emphatically shed light on what it means to be black in a country dominated by whites, Us is indeed symbolically interested in the way in which the haves of the system can choose to ignore the oppression of which their own privileges are the very source. Less successful, the film was a new box office success and ended up making Jordan Peele one of the most influential personalities of his time. Which immediately produced the juicy series pulp and activist Lovecraft Countrybefore scripting for the cinema the very interesting sequel-reboot of candy man against a backdrop of police violence and Black Lives Matter. Peele, of course, has ideas. In just a few years, he has become the king of popular and committed entertainment.

Blue fear and greenbacks

It is, unsurprisingly, this same furrow that digs today Boop, the third feature film written and directed by Jordan Peele. Carried by a beautiful twilight photograph tinged with blue, the film indeed once again mixes pure genre cinema and sharp social criticism hidden behind the screen of a strong concept. In Boop, OJ and his sister Emerald try to survive by training horses destined to appear in television and film productions. In the heart of the lost valley in the depths of California where they live, they are soon the privileged witnesses of strange phenomena in the sky, and see in it the possibility of bailing out. Provided they are able to film or take pictures of what is going on above their heads…

It’s hard not to see in the film a kind of Dating of the Third Kind in the age of social media and woke culture. During a virtual press briefing organized this summer, actor Daniel Kaluuya (get-out), whose character in Boop is not called OJ for nothing (obvious reference to OJ Simpson, and the over-mediatization of his case), confided to us as follows: “For me, the great theme of the film is undeniably our thirst, impossible to quench, for attention. Boop also points to how much we can focus our energy and mind on things that are harmful to us. Impossible for me, for example, not to make the link between the plot of the film and our relationship to Instagram. All those hours we waste watching things go by without any real interest. The extraterrestrial entity that obsesses the characters obviously symbolizes all these futile obsessions that can turn against us and trap us in their nets.

Originally, the film was to be called Little Green Men (The Little Green Men), in reference to the alien presence in the film, but also, and perhaps above all, to the obsession of men for the dollar god and his dear little greenbacks. And Peele himself comments: “You know, I always talk in my films about the weakness of men. I wanted this time to do something around our relationship to entertainment and money, of our constant need to monetize any form of entertainment.” A summer blockbuster that prides itself on questioning the limits of show business? The proposal is certainly not lacking in dog. It is also displayed from the opening of Nope, which begins solemnly with a biblical quotation:I will throw on you an abominable filth, I will make you vile and I will make you a spectacle.” Better than Andy Warhol and his prophetic quarter of an hour of fame, the great sacred book as a definitive reading grid for our hyper-connected era? It’s all Jordan Peele art, of course, to bridge the gap between the old and the new, the old immemorial fears and the immediacy of pop culture. In this little game Boop breaststroke also very broad, proposing more or less to be everything and its opposite. Between the raucous entertainment and its acerbic criticism, Peele, at bottom, does not choose, embracing his own contradictions with a Rabelaisian appetite worthy of a creature from elsewhere. His cinema brings together all genres (horror, science fiction, new western…) but ultimately resembles only himself. The key to a successful show?

Shared universe?

get-out. Us. Boop. In three films, Jordan Peele has established himself as the champion of lapidary titles that leave room for imagination and interpretation. So much so that some fans have chosen to see only the sharp segments of a single statement to be reconstituted: “Get Out, Us? nope.” (“Going out, we? Nah.”) Which would tend to endorse the idea that there would be a common cinematic universe for Jordan Peele’s feature films, a bit like at Marvel. The director, in fact, has a knack for stuffing his films with what Americans call easter eggs (literally “Easter eggs”, or references hidden within their diegetic universe) which function as so many links or winks between the different stories. Thus, for example, at the turn of a scene, the characters of Boop have a meal at Copperpot’s Cove, fictional fast food chain that already appeared in Us. Follower of secrecy and mystery, Peele admits to feasting on the theories that do not fail to rain about his films and their titles. About the title Boopthe filmmaker nevertheless agreed to give some explanations, arguing that, as get-out, he had above all been chosen to reflect the possible reaction of the public to his film in cinemas. Like “Nah, I don’t believe it” or “Nah, I don’t want to see that”. Which does not necessarily contradict another tenacious theory about this title which would like Boop be an acronym for “Not of planet Earth” (“Not from planet Earth”, therefore). One thing is certain: we haven’t finished hearing about the films of Jordan Peele…

black horror

Liberating in many respects, the films of Jordan Peele are undeniably, and in full consciousness, part of a tumultuous history of the figure of the African-American on the screens, and more particularly in genre cinema. A recent documentary looks quite brilliantly at this question: Black Horror: A History of Black Horror by Xavier Burgin (2019), in which Peele also testifies abundantly. Logically tracing the heavy racial prejudices that run through the entire history of US cinema to the inevitable Birth of a Nation by DW Griffith (1915), in which blacks (often played by white actors) are presented as dangerous sexual aggressors legitimately subdued by the Ku Klux Klan, the film questions the place given to African-Americans on the screens over the years. time, between pure invisibilization and massive summons to play stooges or traveling clichés. Always fascinated by the iconic role played by a Duane Jones in the cult Night of the Living Dead by George Romero (1968), Jordan Peele confides in particular that the nuanced and complex protagonists of his films were largely constructed in reaction to the absolute stereotype of the only black character always sacrificed first in horror films of the 1960s. 80. “I think the horror genre, like comedy, has this rare ability to spark thought and debate about very real social issues, and it does so in a very powerful way,” he says. Message well received.

Jordan Peele (Nope): “I wanted to do something about our relationship to entertainment and money”