Weird Wild West: On Jordan Peele’s “Nope”
, 2022-09-24 14:05:08,
WE MEET Nope’s protagonist in a scene that could be lifted from a hundred other Westerns. Open on: the desert outside Los Angeles, the desolate sensorium Hollywood has long filled with hopes and dreams. We see a Black man, Otis Haywood Sr. (Keith David), riding a horse, his son OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) on foot, discussing the family business training horses for movie productions. Despite the familiarity, something is amiss. They discuss film sets with a mixture of weariness and giddy-up, but we’ve already seen the film’s prologue: a point-of-view shot in a ravaged TV studio, a blood-splattered chimpanzee walking into frame, looking at the camera. A perverse Rod Serling surrogate, the chimpanzee invites us into Nope’s world for just a minute, an unstable flicker of the dark transmission to come. Even given this omen — “a bad miracle,” to the characters — it’s no less surprising when a nickel falls from the sky, impaling and killing Otis Sr.
Stray sightings. Vague visitations. Hovering horses. Jordan Peele’s film is an offspring of the Weird West, situating itself in a long media history that warps the wildness of the West and mines the genre not to limn but to pervert society’s aspirations. Weird Westerns are a breed of speculative fiction with roots dating to the 1930s, when comic books and short stories increasingly turned to and distorted the woolier corners of the US West. Although typically more interested in playing into than challenging the…
To read the original article from lareviewofbooks.org, Click here