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‘Get Out’ Director Jordan Peele Explains ‘The Sunken Place’

Peele clues you in to the horrifying meaning

(Spoiler warning: Don’t read if you haven’t seen “Get Out.”)

A great many things in writer-director Jordan Peele’s horror satire “Get Out” have become cultural touchstones that will live on as go-to metaphors for the racial divide in America. But the single most talked about aspect of the film has been “the sunken place.”

What is the sunken place? Superficially, it’s a brainwashing technique. See, in “Get Out,” a young black man visits the family of his white girlfriend, experiencing an increasingly ominous series of microaggressions, until the reveal comes: He has been lured there to be kidnapped, sold into a form of slavery, and lobotomized so that his body can be hijacked by the white person who purchased him. Part of what makes it possible is a kind of hypnosis, which separates the consciousness of the victim from control of the body.

It’s particularly horrifying because it works as a metaphor for not only the literal history of slavery, but for cultural appropriation and the use of social niceties to enforce social hierarchies. But as Peele explained Thursday on Twitter, “the sunken place” has bigger implications.

“We’re all in the Sunken Place” he tweeted.

Soon after, he elaborated on what that means. “[W]e’re marginalized. No matter how hard we scream, the system silences us.”

The “sunken place” has become an expression of frustration for people who feel more marginalized than ever in the age of Trump. None of that is an accident, it seems, as Peele made clear when he retweeted one of his followers.

Now you know.