It’s difficult to do a UFO movie right. That’s why the animal attack subplot of Nope is so fulfilling. Black people have so much to fear on a daily basis because the concept of white supremacy views some people as less than human. With the implications of colonial history in mind, it’s weird that there isn’t more worry about what might be behind the clouds.
Black History Has Several Reasons To Say, Nope
The monster in Nope is a non-human beast. It is animalistic and cruel. It doesn’t deserve kindness, but was the creature likely to encounter it anyway?
The UFO represents a money and fame making opportunity for many of the characters, and their irresistible greed makes them vulnerable to the UFO’s insatiable appetite. Emerald is somewhat concerned with making a name for herself, but her actions reflect that she is ultimately the most concerned with selflessly keeping the legacy of her family alive. OJ and Emerald must work to maintain their property, and this prevents them from finding selfish motivations.
Like Gordy, the alien life-form is full of rage. The biblical quote in the beginning reads, “And I will cast abominable filth upon thee, and make thee vile, and will set thee as a spectacle”.
Whether it’s aliens or Hollywood, Peele’s latest film isn’t the first to critique Black people’s symbolic place within the visual context of American society.
Sorry To Bother You is a film that’s all about the danger in selling one’s body for labor. Written in 2012, Boots Riley, released several works of the same name before finally filming the movie in 2018. LaKeith Stanfield‘s Cassius loses his humanity in order to please his new company. The horrifying twist mirrors real world ghost stories like the folktale of “The Goatman”. The Goatman is a part of rural Maryland folklore about a forest-dwelling beast. Due to the region’s fame as a hotspot for genetic testing, it is possible that The Goatman has an origin that is similar to the fictitious events of the film.
Beyond outright kidnapping, many real-life Black horror stories involve a betrayal of trust. Father Divine is considered to be one of the most influential leaders of the American Civil Rights Movement. He fed, clothed, and housed his followers during a period of national economic distress. Rev. Jim Jones believed that he was the reincarnation of Father Divine. The brutal murders of Jonestown are dramatized in the 2013 movie The Sacrament. Many of Jones’ followers were African-American elders and drug addicts who fell for the promise of creating a post-racial utopia abroad.
Like evil preachers, Idi Amin also preyed on the trusting nature of the people of Uganda. The grotesquely brutal dictator’s rise to power is depicted in the movie The Last King of Scotland (2006). As any wrong move means certain death for the true-to-life characters, it is not surprising that UFOs have historically been seldom featured in horror movies for Black audiences.
Do you love alien movies? What did you think of Nope? Which of the film’s themes did you catch? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment!