“The Girl Had a Shadow”: Us (2019) as a Modern Black Gothic

Abstract

In this research paper, I examine how Jordan Peele’s film Us (2019) fits into the genre of a modern “Black Gothic.” I analyze how Peele uses imagery, character construction, and social references to construct a modern Black Gothic film that considers the intense history of oppression and silencing of groups on the basis of their race and class in the United States. I use the foundational definitions and examples provided by Maisha Wester and Sheri-Marie Harrison to argue how Us fits into and further modernizes the Black Gothic genre, as well as examining how Peele’s imagery contributes to the horror and the social commentary of the film. Ultimately, this paper provides a close reading of the whole film as a part of a larger conversation around how the historical and modern oppression of Black individuals and communities is embedded into the very foundation of the United States as a nation.

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