Art / Essay / Get Out (2017) / Photography / Relationships / Variety (1983)

At the Movies

You argue, fight over nothing because “nothing” is unimportant. You tell your son, I’m going to the movies. He says, Take me with you. You say, I can’t. You exit through the kitchen door, your husband follows you out to the driveway. You exchange a continuous verbal shit storm.

Nan (Nan Goldin) tells her friend Christine (Sandy McLeod) who is in need of work about a job at a Times Square porno theater called Variety.


Film still, Variety (1983) dir. by Bette Gordon. Still featured in the Tribeca Film Festival Film Guide Archive. Web. 27 June 2017. TFF used the print with perm. from MOMA, Dept. of Film, NY.

On the way to the movies guilt sets in. It doesn’t take much to convince yourself you are a terrible mother. You call. Your husband answers. You say, Let me talk to my child. He is gruff, but gives the phone to a sad, quiet voice you cannot interpret. You apologize. You say, I just need time alone for a bit and then I’ll be home. He says, Okay. The phone disconnects and you cry.

She recites lines from pornographic films transforming into someone else. Christine’s voice delivers narration in weighted syllables and a deeper pitch. When she talks about fucking she is direct like a textbook.

You’re going to see Get Out (2017) for the second time, but you are too early. You stand in a short line, buy your ticket and wander outside. The sky is drizzling, the plaza sidewalks are crowded with Sunday shoppers. You text the wrong person, you call a friend in Nebraska. You are anxious and think people are staring at you or listening to your phone call. You hide behind a sign, cry over the phone. You don’t understand yourself, but you never have.

She sits, back straight at the diner counter next to Mark (Will Patton). Christine expresses enthusiasm for her new job. Mark asks, What kind of movies do they show? Christine says, Porn movies.

Photographer Nan Goldin visually documented her personal life and those of her friends. They drink on the beach; they dance at a party. They kiss, they, love, they hate, they hit. Goldin looks directly into her own camera, one eye nearly swollen shut, both discolored. Her soft dark curls fall below her shoulders. I am disturbed. I project. I play mirror, except I could never wear lipstick so perfectly.

Rose Armitage (Allison Williams) preys on black men and women in order to bring them home to her seemingly perfect community. Her boyfriend, Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuwa), accompanies her on a weekend visit to her family’s house. On the way there they hit a deer. The deer makes a dreadfully painful sound. Chris follows the animal voice, stands over its collapsed, injured body.

Christine becomes hyper-sexual. She places herself in dangerous situations. She plays dress-up, pretend. Her makeup is perfect. She acts out, touches her reflection in the mirror. She wears lingerie men find sleazy, but women find sexy. None of it matters. Christine, follower of Christ, remains an innocent lamb. There is nothing wrong with desire.

The movie theater is dark, and more crowded than you thought it would be. You sit as alone as you can with a diet cola and a box of high-calorie chewy candies. Someone four rows ahead of you is using their phone. The glare is bright, distracting. Obnoxious. Why go to the movies if you don’t want to watch?


Film still, Get Out (2017) dir. Jordan Peele. Cosmopolitan Magazine used with permission by Blumhouse Productions. Web 27 June 2017.

Love is destructive. And all-encompassing. Goldin’s pictures reflect the nature of love and all its violent blossoms. Chris loves the wrong woman. Christine does not love at all. You block out everything. You watch Chris. The deer head on the wall is watching him too. You sink.

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