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Fame and unidentified flying objects

Sci-fi thriller Nope highlights the human desire to be part of the spectacle


Universal Studios

Fame and unidentified flying objects
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Director Jordan Peele earned a reputation for compelling storytelling in his first two films, Get Out and Us, by using metaphorical social messages about race as their backbone. In his new movie Nope, now in theaters, Peele departs from this pattern to deliver an entertaining and more traditional big-screen summer thriller.

Nope tells the story of OJ and Emerald Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer), a brother and sister who run a horse ranch in Southern California. The film starts slowly, with the two discovering that a UFO is repeatedly appearing in the skies above their home. More intrigued than scared, OJ and Emerald, with some help from others, embark on a quest to get photographic proof of the aerial visitor in hopes of securing fame and financial gain. But in a fresh take on the UFO genre, they soon discover the ship is not what they thought.

Unlike Peele’s previous directing projects, Nope is more science fiction thriller than horror movie. That is not to say this film is tame. Audiences of this R-rated film should be prepared for significant gore, strong language, and intense action.

But Nope also feels different in that it does not contain overt social commentary on racial issues. Peele has made a more traditional popcorn thriller that seems to make a more subtle statement on contemporary American culture.

The movie opens with an obscure passage from the Old Testament: “And I will cast abominable filth upon thee, and make thee vile, and will set thee as a spectacle” (Nahum 3:6). Peele uses this passage and the film to indict Americans’ fascination with personal fame—in particular, fame from merely viewing (and recording) the spectacular versus actually doing anything notable themselves.

The main characters in Nope all seem more fixated on the notoriety they’ll gain from photographing the UFO than on discerning whether it is dangerous.

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