The Other Us: A Critical Analysis of Race in Jordan Peele’s Us

April 4, 2021   /  

Name: Danté Fair
Major: Communication Studies
Advisors: Dr. Rohini Singh, Dr. Nii Nikoi

The purpose of this study was to examine the portrayal of race in African American producer Jordan Peele’s film Us. Using critical analysis techniques guided by Critical Race Theory this study found that Peele’s film Us, with the use of doppelgangers, highlights three main processes of othering: the other as foreign, the other as monster, and the other as unfree. Additionally, the film provides a clear focus on the other within oneself, allowing Us to function as a social critique of life in the United States. Real-world implications in Us and Peele’s use of symbolism solidified the film’s place in the New Black Realism genre. Furthermore, with his second film Us, Jordan Peele solidifies his place in the horror genre while also exposing societal issues that hinder Black People and people of color. However, Peele shares a clear message with the film: the solution to the problem begins with a look in the mirror because the problem starts with us.

Danté will be online to field comments on April 16:
10am-noon EDT (Asia: late evening, PST: 6-8am, Africa/Europe: late afternoon)

13 thoughts on “The Other Us: A Critical Analysis of Race in Jordan Peele’s Us”

  1. Thank you for sharing your project. You mention that this movie is a social critique of life in the U.S. What do you think is the biggest take away the director wanted people to come away with after viewing the movie? Do you think the movie was affective in sharing that message?

    1. Hello, I appreciate your interaction with my project. I believe the biggest takeaway the director wanted people to come away with after viewing film is that the problem of othering, stereotypes, and generalizations begins with us. Meaning that we need to look in the mirror and see “the other” within ourselves and within our country (such as the dark history that many textbooks and articles fail to acknowledge) in order to make progress on the issues of race, racism, and race relations. I do think the movie was affective in sharing the message but only if one is analyzing the film closely because it is easy to just view the film passively and get caught up in the various messages and ways the film can be interpreted. Another reason I really enjoyed working with this film is because of the way Peele allowed the audience to create their own story in a sense. He never just gave the audience answers, he allowed people to think for themselves and take what they want from the film. Thank you for your question and I hope I could answer it for you! I hope you have a wonderful day!

  2. Hi Dante – I enjoyed seeing this video of your project! I appreciate your explanation of the rhetorical and visual strategies used to present the “other” in this film. If YOU were to make a film depicting the “other” in any genre, which would you choose and what rhetorical strategies might you include?

    1. Hi Dr. Weller! I hope all is well. As much as I enjoy the horror genre, I think I would choose to depict the “other” in a somewhat comedic manner while also having serious elements to the film. I believe that being able share a clear and serious message while also having elements that ease the tension in the audience allows for one to receive the message and not be offended by it (if they are apart of the group I target with my film). As for rhetorical strategies, I would be sure to target the audience’s emotions as well as use statistical data throughout the film to back my message. I think it would be interesting to make a comedy/drama where I would personify race or racism and show how the “person” of race or racism influences and hinders the lives of others.

  3. Danté, I enjoyed hearing your summary of part of your analysis. I really appreciated Peele’s film, so it was interesting to hear your analysis. And, as I recall, doesn’t 11:11 also refer to the Bible verse from Jeremiah that the man on the beach has on his sign? That verse promises destruction, so your added observation about the reflective nature of 11 on each side of the colon is even more interesting in that respect. Congrats on your work! I’ve missed you this year.

    1. Hello, I am happy to hear you enjoyed my partial summary of my analysis. You are correct about Jeremiah 11:11 and it can be seen multiple times throughout the film. After reading the verse itself it actually helped me understand the film and the use of 11 and 11:11 a lot more. I had a lot of fun interacting with the film and I’m glad I got to share my thoughts about it with you. Thank you for your kind words and all of your help throughout my time at the college. I appreciate all the knowledge you have shared and how much you have helped me as a student. I’ve missed you this year as well and I hope to see you at commencement if possible! Thank you again for everything and I hope you have a wonderful day!

      1. Danté, it’s been a pleasure to have you in class and to see your scholarship evolve during your time here. And yes, I will be at graduation! Let’s definitely meet up. Until then, take care.

  4. Great work Danté! I haven’t seen this film but now I want to. I appreciated your point about not watching media passively. I wonder if the increased viewership of all media during the pandemic has made people able to be more critical (or maybe less so). Congratulations!!

    1. Thank you Dr. Nurse, I appreciate you greatly. And that’s a great point! I hope the pandemic has made people more critical but you’re right, it could have just made people more stuck to their particular media platforms and sources. I am so thankful for having an FYS instructor like yourself, you personally helped me so much with the transition to college and I cannot be more appreciative of that. Thank you for everything and I hope to meet with those left from our FYS class soon! I hope you have a nice day!

    1. Thank you so much! I appreciate your kind words and I am glad you love the movie as much as I do! It is definitely a film that makes you think a lot and that’s what I enjoy most about it. Thank you for interacting with my project and I hope you have a great day!

  5. Thank you for this analysis. I haven’t watched the film in a while, I’ve been anxious to see Candyman and didn’t think to do a “close study” of US. Very insightful work!

  6. Hi Dante, this project was so much fun to advise, because there was so much to dig into and you really got into it. Tell me (for the benefit of everyone else here who didn’t get to hear this part) about the part of your analysis on the other as unfree. Does this construction say something about what kinds of freedoms are valued more in the U.S., and the kinds of people to whom we grant (or deny) such freedoms?

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