The Wizeguy: Who Is You

Hollywood learns but it learns, VERY slowly. Jordan Peele is one of Tinseltowns most bankable and buzz worthy filmmakers, period. That power is rare, especially in the age of comic-book blockbusters and franchise tentpole mania. His second outing as a director with the film, US, proves that he was able to pull off the kind of numbers reserved for capes and the second or third of whatever sequel.

I stand and applaud his efforts. Original stories, smartly paced, with touches of humor and well acted/directed and realistic dialogue spoken by talented actors…Peele does all this without resorting to some of worst tired “horror” gimmicks. You know, the loud ominous chords, obvious jump scares, vapid victims, etc. I like the thrill of not knowing where the film maker is headed, and traveling along an uncharted cinematic journey is a refreshing relief from the same old stuff. So many things being created now are ultimately forgettable.

At the New York premiere of Us, Peele encouraged the crowd in a screening room at the Museum of Modern Art to converse with one another after the credits rolled. It’s fun discussing the possible metaphorical (or allegorical) meanings of the film, some think the film is clever, or they are clever, when they do so.

Carl Gustav Jung would theorize that US is about the “shadow archetype,” i.e. the character that resides in our collective unconscious and is mainly experienced by projection. The shadow archetype , the “dark side” of our own personalities is depicted in the film as asserting itself collectively in “hands across America,” snuffing the “others” and taking over. Think of it as a Jungian commentary on our current milieu.

However, Do doppelgangers have to be all bad?

Read Charles Williams’ remarkable novel, “Descent Into Hell.” (spoilers ahead)

A young woman is haunted by her own doppelganger. She’s safe–as long as she remains indoors. But outdoors–on some deserted London street!–

–she might be walking along, then pause for a quick, horror-stricken moment. HERSELF–her very image is approaching at a distance. What to do? Dodge into a shop somewhere–duck down an alley–do anything to avoid this dreadful apparition.

Till that climactic scene towards the end! She meets–beyond time, beyond space–her own ancestor. A condemned heretic–in a prison cell, waiting to be burned at the stake.

“My God!” he cries, oblivious of his own descendant standing by, watching helplessly. “I cannot bear the fear of the fire!’

“Give it to me, John Struther!” a voice cries. “Give it to me!”

There stands her doppelganger–incomparably lovely, incomparably glorious. The man (perceiving none of this) feels his fear depart. He goes to the fire, glorifying God.

What was that fear? How could he pass it on?

It was–that very fear of her own doppelganger. The fear that haunted this woman throughout her life. A lifetime’s burden! and she had borne it.

And the doppelganger (having served its purpose) is gone. Never to reappear.

What does Us mean?  is, essentially, What does it mean to you?


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