Explanation of the true meaning of Nope

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This article contains the main spoilers for the movie “No”. Screenwriter and director Jordan Peele has already established himself as a skilled storyteller, combining horror tropes and aesthetics with complex, insightful themes that touch on real-world issues. His latest film “No” is no exception to this trend. However, determining exactly what the film is trying to say can be a mystery at first.

Peel’s previous films, “Away” and “We,” clearly touched on themes of racism and oppression. In contrast, the central idea of Nope is a bit more abstract. However, when you look at the characters in the film and their shared experiences, some recurring ideas begin to appear. No, at first glance it may seem like a strange story, but under this strangeness, its driving themes are more tangible than one might expect.

Animal instincts

The opening scene of “No” is one that most viewers won’t forget in the near future. The film begins with a shot of a TV completely destroyed by a chimpanzee dressed in human clothes. A chimpanzee stands next to a motionless human body covered with freshly spilled blood. He’s strangely calm, despite all the carnage he just caused. And then the monkey looks directly into the camera, and the scene turns black. It’s completely surreal, but completely frightening and stands out as one of the most memorable parts of the film.

The next scene serves as a representation of the main character of the film, O. J. Heywood (Daniel Kaluuya). We first see OJ helping his father Otis (Keith David) at the family horse ranch, and when he does, the first recurring motif of the film appears. Animals feature prominently throughout the film — in particular, how animals are exploited in the entertainment industry. In another early scene, OJ brings one of his horses, Lucky, to a promotional shoot where he is scared by a crew member and becomes aggressive. Immediately Knope draws attention to how badly animals are treated in Hollywood.

Soon after, this theme is further developed by Ricky “Jupe” Park (Steven Yun), a theme park owner and former child star who recalls his past as the star of the short-lived sitcom “House of Gordy.” As it turned out, the mysterious opening scene was a traumatic memory from Jupe’s childhood. After Gordy, the show’s main chimpanzee, got scared by a burst balloon, he flew into a rage and brutally attacked the cast and crew, sparing only Jupe before being shot. Between Lucky and Gordy, the point of view that Knope is trying to convey becomes even clearer: when animals are mistreated for fun, they tend to lash out in retaliation.

At first, this may seem like a strange and even random topic for research in a movie about the search for UFOs. But in the end it turns out that the UFO threatening the Haywood Ranch is not an alien spaceship, but rather a living being. This is not a ship, but an animal that OJ calls “Jeans Jacket” in honor of one of the previous horses of the ranch. And, like Lucky and Gordy, Jean Jacket is exploited for fun.

Something exciting

When most of the characters find out about the existence of Jean Jacket, their first impulse is to take advantage of his existence for their own purposes. Both Jupe and Sister O.J. Emerald (Keke Palmer) they want to use their UFO discovery as a ticket to fame and fortune. Meanwhile, the Haywood’s unlikely allies Angel (Brandon Perea) and Holst (Michael Wincott) are fascinated by the idea of capturing alien life on film. Even a TMZ reporter was killed trying to investigate UFO rumors. Almost everyone who learns about Jean Jacket sees in him not a living being to be feared and respected, but a spectacle that can be used. And as a result of this exploitation, Jean Jacket takes dozens of human lives.

The idea of the spectacle arises in the first seconds of the film, in which there is a biblical quote from Nahum 3:6, which reads:

“I will shower you with vile filth, make you vile and make you a disgrace.”

The sight of the Saw is immediately associated with suffering. Naturally, this association is most clearly felt in the topic of animal exploitation, but not only animals become a spectacle. Despite its grim nature, the Gordy incident became a national sensation, and even got a sketch on Saturday night live covering the disaster. And, despite his deep trauma due to this event, Jupe is forced to laugh with the whole world, even showing off his “House of Gordy” memorabilia to fans for money. Ultimately, however, Jupe learned the wrong lesson from Gordy, and he was killed by Jean Jacket after continuing the exploitation cycle.

And although the themes of race are much less noticeable in “No” compared to Peel’s previous works, they are still present in the background.

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