Fri. Dec 1st, 2023

Jupe tells his audience about the alien presence he calls “The Viewers,” who in his mind look like the cameras he’s seen for most of his life. A flashback shows him hiding on the “Gordy’s Home” set under a table. The shape of the film magazines atop the abandoned cameras resemble the alien plush figures and masks that present-day Jupe sells. 

Back then, Gordy looked right at Jupe—and us, the camera acting as Jupe’s point of view. Its gaze inscrutable, its mouth bloody, the chimp drew closer, reaching its knuckles toward Gordy. Did it sense a kindred spirit? Or would it have harmed him? Rescuers shoot it before Jupe can find out.

Jupe as a boy had no control. Through the theme park and the alien show, he seems to have control now—but it’s false, just like the trainers on “Gordy’s Home” thought before Gordy snapped. Before OJ’s horse saw its reflection and startled.

Attention can be a beast. It might feel warm, flattering, euphoric. But it can change, like the creature does: from the silvery flying saucer of so many films to something pliable, expansive, with a gaping maw that looks like a black hole. 

All this attention literally engulfs Jupe. As he and the apprehensive crowd stare up at it, unable to look away, the alien entity opens its mouth like an aperture, devouring Jupe and his audience whole. Peele shows them struggling inside this creature, fighting against folds of tissue, and we realize we’ve seen this before, over the opening credits: a billowing “tunnel” that rippled like curtains.

We were in the belly of the beast then. We just didn’t know it. 

This creature likes to watch, too—to a point. It’s drawn to whatever looks at it, making us the focus that mesmerizes. It feeds on our attention, though never on itself, inhaling anything and everything it can before chucking what it can’t use. I will cast abominable filth at you, make you vile, and make you a spectacle, says the biblical quote (Nahum 3:6) that Peele uses to open the film, and after visiting Jupiter’s Claim, the creature delivers a deluge of filth, parking in the sky right above the Haywoods’ ranch house and spewing out blood, metal, and other debris. It literally chews people up, absorbing only what it needs for sustenance and ejecting the rest, indiscriminate in its damage.

By Dave Jenks

Dave Jenks is an American novelist and Veteran of the United States Marine Corps. Between those careers, he’s worked as a deckhand, commercial fisherman, divemaster, taxi driver, construction manager, and over the road truck driver, among many other things. He now lives on a sea island, in the South Carolina Lowcountry, with his wife and youngest daughter. They also have three grown children, five grand children, three dogs and a whole flock of parakeets. Stinnett grew up in Melbourne, Florida and has also lived in the Florida Keys, the Bahamas, and Cozumel, Mexico. His next dream is to one day visit and dive Cuba.