The Graduate Review


Jordan Peele’s Nope is a recent addition to the horror film genre that is jam packed with symbolism and metaphor, but the main attraction, as with many horror films, is the monster Jean Jacket. Nope is a spoof on the UFO/alien invasion story, with Jean Jacket standing in as the twist; he is an airborne alien monster that has the flat, round shape of a flying saucer, but otherwise mostly resembles a vagina. Nope’s protagonists are set up against and obsessed with Jean Jacket, their main objective over the course of the narrative is to capture him on film. In other words, they wish to capture him with their gaze. In “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” Laura Mulvey argues that women in film serve as visual objects for the pleasure of the male gaze of both the audience and male characters (1998, 62). While Jean Jacket is gendered as masculine by the film’s characters, there is no getting around his uncanny vaginal resemblance (which the characters never comment on). Regardless of the he/ his/him pronouns given to him, he is a (literal) giant representation of a woman’s genitals and becomes an object of fixation for the gaze of the mostly male characters and for the audience. On the other hand, Em (Nope’s one female protagonist) has the opposite experience throughout the film. Em is never made an object to be looked at; she is an active participant in the plans to capture Jean Jacket and she is not sexualized at any point in the narrative. In fact, Em feels almost like a stance against Mulvey and the final girl trope that is featured in so many horror movies.

Note on the Author

Ryan is pursuing his MA in English at Bridgewater State University. His essay was completed in fall 2022 under the mentorship of Dr. Halina Adams during her critical theory course. Ryan plans to continue working towards his MA with the hopes of completing more works akin to his essay on Nope.