‘Nope’ fan theory suggests we were the UFOs all along

Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, and Brandon Perea as OJ, Emerald, and Angel, Nope (2022)

Image via Universal Pictures

Warning: Spoilers for Nope to follow.

Jordan Peele pulled off a critical trifecta earlier this year, with his latest (and possibly greatest) thriller film Nope proving a worthy follow-up to its similarly acclaimed successors Get Out and Us. His realm is a divisive one, with Peele, the modern maestro of motifs, tending to juggle a fair share of themes and symbols in his nightmarishly unique settings, but for those of us looking to sink our teeth into more allegorical pieces, the filmmaker’s arsenal is positively delicious.

In its most literal sense, Nope is about the plight of siblings OJ and Emerald Haywood, the current owners of a horse-training ranch passed down by their ancestors, who find themselves in financial trouble trying to keep it afloat. The duo soon discovers what appears to be a group of extraterrestrials hunting in and around the area with a UFO, and they plot to capture a photo of the alien ship, hoping to fall into some wealth as a result. Of course, things weren’t quite as they seemed, and what appeared to be a UFO turned out to be something far more terrifying.

In a thematic sense, however, the film dealt with humanity’s addiction to spectacle and the dangers that come with not respecting that danger as we grasp to achieve and witness such spectacle. This was especially apparent in the behaviors of the alien, who the siblings name “Jean Jacket,” and Gordy, a once-beloved simian sitcom star who went berserk on set, traumatizing a young Ricky “Jupe” Park (a now-grown showman who attempts to exploit the alien with fatal results).

But one user managed to delve a bit deeper, positing in r/FanTheories a reading of the film that almost subverts what’s most apparent to us with brilliant articulation.

To put it succinctly, the user suggests that the alien, who is originally in the shape of an eyeball before revealing its true form, itself represents an audience’s fixation, with the many characters it hunts and preys on being adjacent to those who desire to be in the spotlight, to be a spectacle themselves. The alien, of course, literally attempts to consume many of these characters, which represents how public figures are consumed by the weight of the spectacle that they’re bearing; a spectacle that audiences loudly expect from these figures. Considering what the spotlight ultimately did to the likes of Jupe as a child actor, it makes all makes for a poignant observation in a toweringly multi-faceted film.

For a more in-depth explanation from the theorist themself, read the full post here.

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