If there was one message the Get Out‘s marketing made clear back in February it was this: this is a horror movie. Sure, it might have had social commentary and thriller elements, but the marketing was clear, Get Out is a horror movie.
At the Golden Globes, though, Get Out is a comedy. At least, that’s how Universal are submitting it. And while the film did contains moments of dark humour it was certainly not a laugh-riot by any means.
To put it in context, another film entering this years Golden Globes in the comedy section is Daddy’s Home 2. For reference, here are the official synopses and trailers of each film. Read them and mark the differences:
Now that Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with Missy and Dean. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he never could have imagined.
Daddy’s Home 2
Father and stepfather Dusty and Brad join forces to make Christmastime perfect for the children. Their newfound partnership soon gets put to the test when Dusty’s old-school, macho dad and Brad’s gentle father arrive to turn the holiday upside down. After a sudden change in plans, the four men decide to take the kids to a luxury resort for a fun-filled getaway that turns into a hilariously chaotic adventure.
Not too many similar threads, are there?
The director’s reaction
And while some might have expected jokes from a ‘comedy’ director, Jordan Peele was not happy. The director took to Twitter to protest the decision by Universal to submit Get Out as a comedy:
‘Get Out’ is a documentary.
— Jordan Peele (@JordanPeele) November 15, 2017
In a luncheon promoting the film he explained the decision had not been made with his consent. He acknowledged, however, that a film like Get Out was not easy to put in any specific genre box. Still, the ‘comedy’ label rankles with him. He said:
I’ve had many black people come up to me and say, ‘man, this is the movie we’ve been talking about for a while and you did it.’ That’s a very powerful thing. For that to be put in a smaller box than it deserves is where the controversy comes from.
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Call it what you want, but the movie is an expression of my truth, my experience, the experiences of a lot of black people, and minorities
The major point to identify here is that we don’t want our truth trivialised. The label of comedy is often a trivial thing. The real question is, what are you laughing at? Are you laughing at the horror, the suffering? Are you disregarding what’s real about this project? That’s why I said, yeah — it’s a documentary.
Why has this happened?
Unlike the Oscars, the Golden Globes split films into genre categories. Film enter either as ‘Drama’ or ‘Musical/Comedy’: those are the two available options. This binary frequently leads to films being miscategorised. For example, in 2015 Ridley Scott’s The Martian won the award for Best Musical/Comedy.
Essentially, the category a film gets entered in is largely down to how much competition it has.
2017 has been an absolutely stunning year for drama features. Audiences and critics alike have adored Dunkirk, The Post, Darkest Hour, Call Me By Your Name, Baby Driver, Lady Bird, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and Mudbound. Those would all provide some serious competition for Get Out at the Golden Globes.
On the comedy side, however, it’s been a less positive year. Films like Baywatch, Girls Trip, Rough Night, Despicable Me 3, and The Emoji Movie have been largely panned by critics. Realistically, Get Out would be squaring off against The Big Sick, The Greatest Showman, and potentially Beauty And The Beast. While all of them have been well-received, none quite so well-received as Get Out so it might be an obvious winner.
So if Get Out wants to win a Golden Globe comedy might be its best bet. The trouble, as Peele, explained, was the idea that the genre expectations of ‘comedy’ trivialise Get Out‘s critical message. By putting Get Out alongside a film like Daddy’s Home 2, Universal risk sending the message that they’re not taking Get Out‘s social commentary as seriously as they should be.
Other examples of strange film match-ups
To be fair, the general consensus around the Golden Globes categories are that they’re something of a mess. They put films together which are clearly chalk and cheese all the time.
Still, Get Out would be far from the first perplexingly placed film at the Golden Globes. The Martian’s 2015 win the tip of the iceberg in terms of strange movie categorisations at the Golden Globes. Here’s just a few other strange entries and nominations at the Golden Globes:
- In 2012 Les Misérables competed against The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for Best Musical/Comedy.
- 2016 saw Deadpool battle La La Land for a Golden Globe.
- 2006’s Dreamgirls narrowly beat out Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat.
- 2005 was a real laugh-a-minute with Pride And Prejudice seeking to win Best Comedy.
- In 2001 Shrek squared off with Gosford Park a murder-mystery by the writer of Downton Abbey.
- George Clooney’s hilarious comedy Up In The Air competed as a drama against The Hurt Locker and Avatar in 2009.
- 2001 was a mess for drama too with classic comedy Wonder Boys competing with Gladiator.
- Perhaps the strangest category pairing was in 1998 when Jim Carrey’s The Truman Show was up for Best Drama, eventually losing out to Saving Private Ryan.
Despite the Oscars’ messy, biased, generally pretty bad system, at least it doesn’t result in things like this happening.
Ultimately, it seems that Universal weren’t trying to play down Get Out‘s message. They just really wanted to win something for a film that deserves it, whatever category that award was in!