Jordan Peele’s latest film ‘Nope’ has intrigued and bewildered audiences. Peele has become known for his ability to blend horror and social commentary, and ‘Nope’ is no exception. The movie features a range of symbols, including a murderous chimp, inflatable dancing men, and a flying saucer, leaving viewers questioning what these symbols represent and how they contribute to the film’s overall message.
The film’s focus on Hollywood and filming and documenting life also begs the question of Peele’s commentary on surveillance culture and the spectacle of capitalism. Peele hired cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema to capture the expansive SoCal desert sky using IMAX cameras, positioning the film within several cinematic lineages.
This article will delve into the deeper meaning behind the symbols, sociopolitical commentary, and Hollywood critique in ‘Nope,’ analyzing the film’s themes and Peele’s intentions in crafting this highly anticipated work.
- ‘Nope’ features a mix of mysterious characters and symbols, but the A-plot is simple and resolves itself neatly.
- The movie has sociopolitical commentary, including a critique of Hollywood, surveillance culture, and the dangers of converting the untameable into a for-profit spectacle.
- The film repeatedly gestures toward Hollywood and places itself within several cinematic lineages. The final shoot-out trope is replaced with a film roll, suggesting that the actual art of filmmaking might be humanity’s last hope.
- Peele’s movies are full of historical and cultural Easter eggs, double meanings, and sociopolitical commentary, and ‘Nope’ is no exception. The movie leaves audiences with theories and questions, and Peele is known for being an “It means what you think it means” filmmaker.
Table of Contents
Main Plot Summary
The main plot of Jordan Peele’s ‘Nope’ is a straightforward thriller/horror storyline featuring a group of protagonists attempting to defeat a frightening monster. However, this basic storyline juxtaposes the film’s more profound sociopolitical commentary and Hollywood critique.
The characters’ obsession with documenting life, whether through filming or photographing, plays a crucial role in the plot. The Haywood siblings, particularly Emerald, seek to document proof of aliens on camera, which would cement their place in history. The act of archiving history while Black is also discussed, as Emerald’s great-great (great) grandfather was the subject of the first known assembly of photographs creating a motion picture, but the name of the Black man remains unknown.
The concept of legacy and history is also significant in the main plot of ‘Nope.’ The Haywood family’s legacy rests upon converting majestic stallions into show ponies, while the creators of Gordy’s Home chase viewership ratings blindly. Jupe, a child actor, attempts to turn the UFO into his new Gordy. The desire for believably terrifying and titillating spectacles can only end in disaster. The line between obsessive craftsmanship and obsessive commerce creation becomes nearly indistinguishable. The film’s commentary on the dangers of wrangling the untameable into a for-profit spectacle leaves a sour taste and calls into question the characters’ actions.
Examining the cinematic lineages present in the film highlights how Jordan Peele weaves together genre storytelling and sociopolitical commentary.
Peele’s love for horror and science fiction films is evident in ‘Nope,’ which pays homage to classics such as ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ and ‘E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.’
The flying saucer and the ominous alien presence are staples of the sci-fi genre, but Peele gives them a fresh spin by critiquing Hollywood’s obsession with spectacle and profit.
The film’s use of found footage, surveillance cameras, and amateur filmmaking also nods to the found-footage genre. Still, Peele subverts this convention by making it a commentary on the power of surveillance and the importance of controlling the narrative.
At the same time, Peele’s film highlights how Hollywood influences and manipulates culture.
The Haywood siblings’ obsession with capturing proof of aliens on camera mirrors Hollywood’s desire to capture and exploit anything that can become a popular trend.
The filmmakers of Gordy’s Home, who chase ratings blindly, represent the commodification of culture and the dangers of sacrificing art for profit.
Peele’s film suggests that the line between craftsmanship and commerce has blurred in Hollywood and that this obsession with money and spectacle can only lead to disaster.
Peele creates an entertaining and thought-provoking film by weaving together different cinematic lineages and genres.
Surveillance Culture Critique
Through its use of surveillance as a thematic device, ‘Nope’ provides a commentary on the power dynamics and dangers of constant surveillance in society. The film critiques surveillance’s ethics and its impact on marginalized communities, particularly the Black community.
The character of OJ, a Black man, is constantly monitored by security cameras in his workplace, highlighting how surveillance is often used as a tool of control and oppression.
Moreover, the gaping organ on the underbelly of the UFO-turned-predator seems to be watching the characters, leading to a critique of surveillance culture. Peele suggests that the constant surveillance we subject ourselves to in the name of safety and security can become a form of self-inflicted harm, as it robs us of our privacy and autonomy.
The film’s message is particularly poignant in light of recent debates around surveillance and privacy. It serves as a powerful reminder of the need to critically examine how surveillance is used in society.
Themes of Capitalism and Spectacle
The portrayal of the characters’ attitudes towards film-above-life and the spectacle of Hollywood in ‘Nope’ highlights the dangerous consequences of capitalism and the commodification of art. The film suggests that the desire for profit and ratings often leads to the exploitation of art and the reduction of creative output to mere commodities. The Haywood family’s legacy rests on converting majestic stallions into show ponies, and the creators of Gordy’s Home chase viewership ratings blindly, leading to a blurred line between obsessive craftsmanship and obsessive commerce creation.
The movie critiques Hollywood’s obsession with spectacle and its influence on the commodification of art. The UFO-turned-predator can be read as morally judging humanity’s obsession with money and spectacle. The question is whether a big, fun summer monster movie and a treatise on the follies of capitalism in Hollywood can coexist.
Peele’s commentary on capitalism and Hollywood’s obsession with spectacle adds depth and complexity to the movie, leaving audiences with theories and questions long after the credits roll.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the significance of the inflatable dancing men in ‘Nope’?
The inflatable dancing men in ‘Nope’ serve as a symbolic representation of the spectacle-driven culture of Hollywood and capitalism. They contribute to the film’s cultural commentary on the intersection of filmmaking and commerce and the dangers of turning untameable into a good spectacle.
How does the film comment on Hollywood’s treatment of Black historical documentation?
The film ‘Nope’ comments on Hollywood’s treatment of Black representation and the erasure of Black history through cultural appropriation. The delegation of documentation to a white filmmaker is seen as a false step in the movie’s critique of Hollywood whitewashing.
What is the potential meaning behind the Winkin Well photo taken by Emerald in the film?
The Winkin Well photo in ‘Nope’ is symbolic as it relates to Black historical documentation. Using cinematography techniques, Peele highlights the importance of archiving history while also critiquing Hollywood’s treatment of marginalized voices.
How does ‘Nope’ compare to Jordan Peele’s previous works, ‘Get Out’ and ‘Us’?
Comparing ‘Nope’ to ‘Get Out’ and ‘Us’, Peele continues to explore themes of oppression and resistance. While ‘Nope’ is a visceral and genre-bending summer monster movie, it still contains sociopolitical commentary and Easter eggs for audiences to scrutinize.
What is the significance of the Haywood family’s legacy of converting stallions into show ponies in the context of the film’s themes of capitalism and spectacle?
The Haywood family’s legacy of converting stallions into show ponies in the film ‘Nope’ highlights the theme of animal exploitation as a critique of capitalism. The desire for spectacle and profit ultimately leads to disaster and moral judgment from the UFO monster.