‘Us’

Is Us semiotic storytelling, semiotics as storytelling, or semiotics over storytelling?

There’s a difference between communicating the universal through the specific, and universality in place of specificity; Jordan Peele’s follow-up to Get Out is more concerned with crafting symbols as open to interpretation as possible than rooting the symbols in any sort of adequately-drawn narrative (which should not be understood as synonymous with “plot”, my least favorite kind of narrative, but — or, perhaps, because — it’s the most accessibly-conventional), resulting in a lack of a micro through-line to pique our curiosity in figuring out all the potential macro meaning.

The unanimously-game actors come off less as characters and more like living embodiments representing ideas. The whole movie feels like a a collection of clues intended for social media to publicly suss out, discuss, debate, and collectively piece together, a puzzle to be solved (think of it like the intellectual version of Marvel’s shared-universe building/expanding/connecting easter-egg hunts). There’s interesting subtext inhibited by uninteresting text; perhaps it’s nothing but allegorical subtext? I wanted something other than symbolism and symbology to wrestle with, which is hard to find when everything feels designed to be a symbol. I was intrigued from afar, but not sufficiently engaged to do anything with that distant intrigue.

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