With “Nope”, Jordan Peele offers us one of the most terrifying and distressing scenes seen in cinema in recent years. And a tweet from 2014 hints that she was born into one of his nightmares – SPOILERS ALERT!!!
WARNING – The article below contains spoilers, insofar as it returns to one of the most significant scenes of “Nope”. So please move on if you haven’t seen it yet, to better keep the surprise intact.
Jordan Peele would he have taken the expression “Realize his dreams” a little too literally? We can legitimately ask the question when we see one of the key scenes of Boopcertainly one of the most terrifying seen in recent years at the cinema, and this tweet posted by the director in 2014, in which he described one of his nightmares.
(“I dreamed that a baby chimpanzee was attacking people and then coming towards me to hug me, while I was scared. I woke up with tears streaming down my face.”)
Hard not to see, in this tweet, the description of the flashback to the carnage witnessed by Ricky ‘Jupe’ Park (steven yeun) on the set of a sitcom of which he was the star. Filmed in public and titled “Gordy and Company”, the series featured a family, and a monkey dressed as a human. And during the filming of a sequence, that of the birthday of the animal, the explosion of a balloon makes him lose his pedals and attack actors and spectators.
A sequence that opens the film (with the only sound at first, then a long shot as distressing as it is mysterious), and which we then find in its entirety when Jupe tells her story. And we discover that the scene is filmed from his point of view, while he is hidden under a table and witnesses the massacre of which he does not necessarily see everything. Like the viewer in the room.
Then the monkey approaches the child, frightened, and holds out his fist to realize what “fist-bump” which they had repeated more than once on the set, but cannot go through with his gesture because he is shot down. No one knows if Jordan Peele’s nightmare ended the same way, but the similarities are uncanny. And when he posts this tweet, he hasn’t realized yet get-outreleased in cinemas in 2017, which means that this story left a lasting mark on him, so that he decided to stage it, by fully integrating it into Nope’s subject.
It is true, at first glance, that this sequence is surprising, when we were sold a story of supernatural events linked to extraterrestrials. But, as always with Jordan Peele, gender comes with social commentary. And in particular, here, the place of people of color in the world of entertainment. Even before it becomes bloody, the scene is violent in another way, since the filmmaker points the finger at the ethnic quotas in force at the time of the series, the second half of the 90s, but which were before and still are today.
Like the chimpanzee, the young boy we see in the middle of this white American family seems to have been adopted, and he serves as a vehicle for gags. Nothing more. So much so that when Emerald (Keke Palmer) finds out about Jupe’s past, she talks about him as “Kid Sheriff’s Little Asian”his previous series, instead of quoting the character. In the same way that the animal that commits slaughter is described only as “one of the monkeys playing Gordy”.
If the monkey doesn’t attack him like he does with the rest of the cast and audience, it’s probably because he sensed similarities in their respective treatment, as Jordan Peele points to the way the men and women of color have often been treated like animals. In the world like in Hollywood, where they are far too often confined to archetypes.
That the heroes of Nope are characters of color allows the director to extend this comment and turn the situation around. And this sequence illustrates the unpredictable side of the story as well as it fully fits into the overall subject, and also allows us to explore the theme of the appropriation, or reappropriation, of a story.
It is, for example, a question of the way in which only the author of the images which are seen as a precursor of cinema have been retained, Eadweard Muybridge, but not the black jumper seen on it. Ou Jupe says that Gordy’s bloody history was the subject of a skit at the Saturday Night Liveor a cartoon in the magazine madwhich have reduced its tragic significance.
And, in the same vein, the former child star has also rewritten his own story, as he sees himself as the Chosen One after escaping the massacre of “Gordy and Company”, and imagines he can manage to tame the alien creature for the purposes of his own show. When we know that Jordan Peele himself was visibly inspired by his experience to tell part of his new film, the character is all the more rich and fascinating.