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Get Out, Atlanta, And The Afro-Surrealist Film Movement

Surrealism is the 20-century avant-garde artistic and literary movement that sought to stir the creative potential of the unconscious mind position seemingly irrational imagery adjacent to one another.

Surrealism is the 20-century avant-garde artistic and literary movement that sought to stir the creative potential of the unconscious mind position seemingly irrational imagery adjacent to one another. Artist Salvador Dali is among the most respect of that era.

Surrealism in film draws upon many of the philosophical principles as in the art world, using shocking, irrational and absurd imagery to challenge conventional reality. American filmmaker David Lynchs Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive are each considered among the best contemporary examples of this technique, while Alfred Hitchcock and Rod Serling were said to have each incorporated some surrealist ideals in their works.

First coined in 2009 by New Jerseys Poet Laureate Amiri Baraka, Afro Surrealism focuses on the present day experience of African Americans as interpreted via artistic endeavor.

Get Out Trailer

Go check out my new short film “Whisper” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VUDx7gP2W8 “The Gift Trailer”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3IiZU9JBuE “Get Out Trailer”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRfnevzM9kQ


Racism in America is such a deeply, and the benefactors so cluelessly stewing in their own ignorance, that most direct assaults on racism cinema and other forms of mass media face a most unceremonious demise.  The machine will defend anything deemed a threat to its existence. When it comes to the institutional racism that is soaked into every fiber of America, the media machine will at times attempt to belittle it, devalue it or sabotage it in some way that delegitimizes it. 


Sure, that means less money in the short term. However, it also acts as a built-in excuse to counter any precocious young filmmaker brave enough to speak directly to the black experience culture in America, as well as the repercussions for the philosophical collisions between the mainstream and black world.

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Enter Jordan Peeles Get Out. Filled with seemingly irrational imagery juxtaposed against the conventional thinking of the mainstream, Get Out was so successful in exploring American racism on several surreal fronts, the films primary legacy could be how its award season classification revealed the mindset of the supposedly liberal Hollywood elite as they struggle to categorize it. The fact that some were too willing to label it a comedy was indicative of just how differently black mainstream and white mainstream folks view the world, even so, called progressive-minded white folks.

Atlanta | Season 2: Official Trailer [HD] | FX

Everybody gotta eat. Watch the OFFICIAL TRAILER for Atlanta Robbin’ Season. Season premiere March 1st on FX. Subscribe now for more Atlanta clips: http://bit.ly/SubscribeFX Two cousins work through the Atlanta music scene in order to better their lives and the lives of their families.


To us, there was nothing funny about the idea of having our bodies controlled by white masters, or that a white woman would set us up. These are black fears steeped in history, a history that some would rather chuckle at than properly access.

It is funny, but it is also clever, macabre and sneakily subversive in a manner of ways. However, all some white folks got out of it was that Lil Rel was funny.


The second season of Donald Glovers Atlanta is called Robbin Season for a reason as seemingly every other episode in the season has a plotline that bisects morality and survivability in an urban environment. Were coming up on the sixth episode of the 14-episode season, but its rob or be robbed, hustle or be hustled, steal or be stolen from. These are the hurdles over which Earn and company must jump.

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As some can attest, there arent many neighborhoods with centralized, organized crime, at least not in the traditional sense.  The ills of poverty are just that, meaning that theyre byproducts of conditions that have haunted these neighborhoods for decades, if not over a century, in some cases.  

Unemployment, underemployment, the schoolhouse to jailhouse societal paradox, the financial redlining of black neighborhoods, and the perpetual hustlers mindset that many can recall from their old haunts, are all addressed in some form or another by a continually growing list of hilarious, familiar, yet unique to television characters. Characters gleaned from every crevice and curve of the black American experience.

SORRY TO BOTHER YOU Official Trailer (2018) Tessa Thompson, Lakeith Stanfield Sci-Fi Movie HD

SORRY TO BOTHER YOU Official Trailer (2018) Tessa Thompson, Lakeith Stanfield Sci-Fi Movie HD PLOT: In an alternate present-day version of Oakland, black telemarketer Cassius Green discovers a magical key to professional success – which propels him into a macabre universe.

Thats why Atlanta is so surrealist. This season itself stands as a counterweight to societys mischaracterization of black want as something obscene or devolved. Donald Glover and companys imagery and dialogue arent surrealism in the traditional sense, but the shows very existence is.  Atlanta the series is literally counter to conventional wisdom on all fronts; subject matter, characters and direction being primary among them.



With the positive reaction garnered at SXSW by the new LaKeith Stansfield film “Sorry to Bother You”, in which he plays telemarketer Cassius Green, it would seem to me that a wave of surrealist-inspired attempts at quality cinematic offerings is on the come up.


“Sorry to Bother You” boasts a stellar cast that includes Tessa Thompson, Steven Yuen, Terry Crews and Danny Glover. Directed by Boots Riley, the storyline takes place in an alternate universe in which Stansfields character discovers that the key to ascending the corporate later is learning to use his white voice.   Sounds bugged, right? I know! However, Cassius Green soon realizes that all is not what it seems in this macabre tale of racism and privilege.

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As was the case with “Get Out” and “Atlanta”, “Sorry to Bother You” takes key pieces of black culture and positions them in a manner that the mainstream recognizes but only reluctantly acknowledges. Despite a visceral disdain for black thought for its own sake, mainstream society has shown an affinity for what can only be called the Afro-Surrealist Film Movement.

I, for one, look forward to each offering of this burgeoning new cinematic subset.

Ricardo A Hazell has served as Senior Contributor with The Shadow League since coming to the company in 2013. His byline has appeared in the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the South China Sea Post, the Root and many other publications. At TSL he is charged with exploring re black cultural angles of where they intersect with the mainstream.