What Does Us the Movie Symbolize: Unpacking the Hidden Meanings

When it comes to movies, there’s nothing quite like the ones that leave a lasting impact on us, making us question our beliefs, values, and the world around us. One such movie that truly stands out in this regard is “Us” by Jordan Peele. The horror-thriller film is a masterpiece that not only succeeds in leaving us on the edge of our seats but also initiates a much deeper conversation on the societal and psychological issues prevalent in our world. “Us” symbolizes more than just a horror story, it’s a commentary on the harsh reality of classism, racism, and the significant impact it has on all of us.

Jordan Peele has become a mastermind at conveying important messages through horror stories. He expertly uses the genre to address social and political issues in a way that leaves a significant impact on the viewers. Similarly, “Us” symbolizes the duality within each of us, the shadow part that is often suppressed, giving rise to larger societal issues. With unique, suspenseful storytelling, Peele encourages us to take a closer look at ourselves and confront our own demons, bringing a message of self-empowerment and unity.

The symbolism in “Us” goes far beyond what we see on the surface. The movie’s plot, characters, and elements all represent both the good and bad within us on a personal and societal level. Peele’s thought-provoking work succeeds in pointing out social constructs that exist through time and space. As a thought-provoking and engaging movie, “Us” reminds us that we all must confront the “shadows” within us if we are to create a better world for ourselves and everyone around us.

The American Dream

The movie “Us” directed by Jordan Peele presents the American Dream as an elusive concept that can be interpreted in different ways by different people. In the movie, the central family, the Wilsons, represent the typical American middle-class family who are seeking to live the American Dream of success, happiness, and security. However, the movie shows how this dream is not easily attainable as it is fraught with challenges, obstacles, and even violence.

The American Dream is a concept that has been deeply ingrained in the American psyche since the founding of the nation. It is the belief that anyone can achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and individualism. This dream promises freedom, equality, and opportunity to all people regardless of their social status, background, or race. However, the reality is that the American Dream is not accessible to everyone, and there are structural and institutional barriers that prevent people from achieving it.

The movie “Us” portrays the struggle to attain the American Dream through the eyes of the Wilson family who are attempting to live the ideal suburban life and leave behind their troubled past. The matriarch of the family, Adelaide, is haunted by her childhood trauma and has a deep-seated fear of her “other” self. This fear stems from her inability to conform to the expectations of society and the American Dream.

The movie symbolizes the struggle to achieve the American Dream by contrasting the Wilsons with their doppelgangers, who represent the dark side of the American Dream. The doppelgangers have been created through experiments conducted by the government to control the population, and they represent the suppressed, marginalized, and oppressed people who have been denied access to the American Dream.

The doppelgangers also represent the fear that the American Dream can create when it is unattainable. They are the result of the Wilsons’ unfulfilled dreams and thwarted aspirations, which have created a deep sense of frustration, anger, and resentment. The movie shows how the American Dream can lead to violence, division, and chaos when it is not accessible to all people.


“Us” is a scathing critique of consumerism and the way it dehumanizes individuals. The film is a commentary on how we have become so obsessed with material possessions and our own personal comfort that we have lost sight of what truly matters – our relationships with each other. Jordan Peele uses the “Tethered” as a symbol of the oppressed underclass, who are forced to live in squalor while their “above-ground” counterparts indulge in mindless consumerism.

  • The film shows how our desire for material possessions blinds us to the suffering of others.
  • It also highlights the way in which consumerism is often used as a way of asserting one’s social status and power.
  • Additionally, the film suggests that the pursuit of personal comfort and security can ultimately lead to isolation and detachment from society.

To emphasize the point further, the film includes several visual references to consumerism, such as the Hands Across America event and the replica of a Thriller t-shirt worn by the son. These images serve as a reminder of the cultural artifacts and events that have become synonymous with American consumerism and the way in which they have become ingrained into our collective consciousness.

The “scissors”The violent separation from the individualistic American society.
The “bunker”The escape from the consumeristic society and the birthplace of the rebirth.
The “Hands Across America”The failed social attempt of unification and equality that symbolizes the ambivalent state of modern American society.

In conclusion, “Us” uses its complex symbols and themes to engage with the issue of consumerism in modern American society. The film is an urgent call for us to resist the dehumanizing effects of materialism and to prioritize our relationships with each other over our pursuit of wealth and comfort.

Racial and Social Inequality

The movie Us is a metaphor for the racial and social inequality present in our society. Jordan Peele, the director, has explicitly stated that he was inspired by the duality of American society and the idea of “the haves and have-nots.” The film is a commentary on how the disadvantaged are left to fend for themselves while the privileged enjoy their wealth and security.

  • One of the most prominent symbols of racial inequality in the movie is the Hands Across America campaign, which serves as the catalyst for the plot. The campaign, which aimed to raise awareness about poverty and homelessness, is portrayed as a hollow gesture that did little to actually help those in need. The fact that the campaign is run by a white organization and features predominantly white participants highlights the disconnect between the privileged and the disadvantaged in our society.
  • The Wilson family, who the movie follows, represents the working-class in America. They are a black family who are forced to defend themselves against their doppelgangers, who come from a different, underground world. The doppelgangers are a clear metaphor for the marginalized and oppressed members of society who are often left to suffer in silence. The fact that the doppelgangers are exact copies of the Wilson family highlights how similar the two groups actually are, despite the stark differences in their living conditions.
  • The doppelgangers’ presence indicates that Peele is commenting on the idea of privilege. The underground is an allusion to the lower class and the Wilson’s doppelgangers are what society has left behind. Peele uses this dichotomy to show that the privileged are not only benefiting, but also continuing to benefit from the opportunities that are blocked for the underprivileged.

Overall, the theme of racial and social inequality is central to the movie Us. It forces audiences to confront the harsh realities of systemic oppression and the consequences that stem from it. The film serves as a reminder that there is still much work to be done in creating a society that is just and equitable for all.

The following table illustrates the divide between the rich and poor in the United States:

Income GroupIncome Range% of U.S. Population% of Total U.S. Wealth
Top 1%$475,116+1%38.6%
Top 20%$134,658+20%77.2%
Upper Middle Class$100,000+15%91%
Middle Class$45,200-$134,65840%9.4%
Working Class$0-$45,20040%0.1%

This table shows that the top 1% of the population holds almost 40% of the wealth in the United States, while the working class holds only 0.1%. This extreme inequality serves as evidence that the themes present in Us are not just fictional, but also a reality that marginalized communities face every day. Peele’s film serves as a critique of this harsh reality, and a reminder that we need to work towards creating a more equitable society.

Suffering and trauma of war veterans

The movie, Us, showcases the psychological impact of war on the soldiers who fought in it. The trauma that the characters experience is a representation of the real-life experiences of war veterans who struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health issues.

  • PTSD: The characters in the movie suffer from PTSD, a mental health disorder that is caused by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. Many war veterans experience PTSD due to their exposure to combat and other traumatic events during their service. The symptoms of PTSD can include flashbacks, nightmares, and avoidance of triggers that remind them of the traumatic event.
  • Depression: Depression is another common mental health issue that war veterans face. The characters in the movie also demonstrate symptoms of depression, such as feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness. It is essential to note that depression is a treatable condition, and individuals should seek help from mental health professionals.
  • Substance abuse: Substance abuse is prevalent among war veterans who suffer from PTSD and other mental health issues. In the movie, the father character is shown struggling with alcoholism, which is a common coping mechanism for individuals dealing with trauma and stress. Substance abuse can exacerbate mental health problems and lead to additional issues, such as addiction and health problems.

The movie Us also highlights the challenges that war veterans face when reintegrating into civilian life. The characters struggle with adjusting to their new lives outside of the military and finding their place in society. This experience is common among veterans, as they often feel disconnected and isolated from the rest of society after leaving the military.

Challenges faced by war veteransImpact
Difficulty finding employmentFinancial hardship and feelings of inadequacy
Difficulty relating to non-veteransFeelings of isolation and disconnection
Lack of access to mental health servicesUntreated mental health issues and increased risk of substance abuse and suicide

Overall, the movie Us serves as a poignant representation of the suffering and trauma that war veterans experience. It sheds light on the mental health issues that veterans face and the challenges they encounter when returning to civilian life. It is essential to recognize the sacrifices that soldiers make and provide them with the support and resources they need to cope with their experiences.

Dysfunction of the American Family

The 2019 horror-thriller film, Us, directed by Jordan Peele, is not only a gripping story but also a commentary on society, race, and class. The film uses horror elements to explore the darker aspects of American society and the American family structure. Dysfunction within the American family is a strong theme in the movie and is explored in various ways.

The Wilson Family: Dysfunctional Ties

  • The relationship between Adelaide and Gabe Wilson is tense and strained from the beginning of the movie. Adelaide’s trauma from her childhood experience in the funhouse and her reluctance to return to the beach house creates friction.
  • Their children, Zora and Jason, are shown to be distant from their parents. Zora is always on her phone, while Jason occupies himself with his magic tricks.
  • The Wilson family’s dynamics are disrupted when the doppelgangers of each member enter the picture. The movie explores the idea that our greatest enemy is often ourselves.

The Tethered: A Distorted Reflection of the American Family

The Tethered, a group of doppelgangers that represent the dispossessed and underprivileged sectors of American society, serve as a distorted reflection of the American family. They are literally bound and tied to the above-ground world and forced to mimic their actions, but twisted and distorted in grotesque ways.

The Tethered reveal the darker aspects of the American family structure and the society it represents. They are born from a failed experiment, implying that American society itself is deeply flawed.

The Shadow Self: The Rejected Part of the American Family

The shadow self represents the repressed and rejected parts of the American family. Each character in the movie is shown to have a shadow self, a darker part of themselves that is often ignored or repressed.

This is a commentary on the American family structure and how it often rejects certain parts of itself, leading to a fragmented and dysfunctional family dynamic. The shadow self is a reminder that these rejected parts cannot be ignored forever, and the cost of repression is often high.

Duality: The American Family and American Society

The use of duality is prevalent in the movie, from the two worlds that exist in the film to the doppelgangers of each character. This duality extends to the larger picture of American society as a whole.

American SocietyThe Tethered
Privileged and wealthyThe dispossessed and underprivileged
Surface appearance of successDistorted and grotesque copies
Repression of darker aspectsUnable to escape from the shadows

The duality presented in the movie symbolizes the fractured nature of American society and the family structure. It serves as a warning that ignoring or suppressing certain aspects of society and family members can have dire consequences.

The Illusion of Happiness and Contentment

One of the major themes that the movie ‘Us’ explores is the concept of the illusion of happiness and contentment. Jordan Peele uses the two main characters, Adelaide and Red, to illustrate how people can live seemingly perfect lives but are still unhappy on the inside.

  • Adelaide appears to have the perfect life – a happy family, a beautiful house, and a successful career. However, her traumatic experience as a child has left her with deep-seated trauma and anxiety that prevents her from truly enjoying her life.
  • Red, on the other hand, has been living a miserable existence as the leader of the tethered for her entire life. Despite her circumstances, she finds solace in the fact that she has a purpose and a sense of identity that Adelaide and her family lack.

This theme is particularly relevant in today’s society where social media often presents a filtered version of people’s lives. Many people feel pressure to present a perfect image of themselves, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy and unhappiness when they cannot live up to this ideal.

The comparison between Adelaide’s and Red’s lives is further emphasized in a scene towards the end of the movie where Adelaide’s son, Jason, asks his mother who won between her and her doppelganger. Adelaide responds that she doesn’t know. This ambiguity highlights the idea that both Adelaide and Red have won and lost in their respective lives, and that happiness and contentment are not always mutually exclusive.

Pros of Pursuing Happiness and ContentmentCons of Pursuing Happiness and Contentment
– Greater sense of fulfillment and satisfaction
– Improved mental and emotional wellbeing
– More meaningful and positive relationships
– Pressure to present a perfect image of oneself
– Difficulty accepting and dealing with negative emotions
– Unrealistic expectations and disappointment when they are not met

Ultimately, the movie ‘Us’ serves as a reminder that happiness and contentment are complex concepts that cannot be achieved simply by living a perfect life. It is important for individuals to acknowledge and accept their negative emotions and experiences, rather than try to hide or ignore them. By doing so, they can find a greater sense of peace and understanding in their lives.

The Power of Media and Entertainment

Media and entertainment have always been powerful tools for shaping public opinion and influencing society. From the earliest forms of storytelling to today’s blockbuster movies, they have the ability to touch our emotions, challenge our beliefs, and inspire us to action. The movie “Us,” directed by Jordan Peele, is a prime example of how media and entertainment can deliver powerful messages and prompt important conversations about the world we live in.

The Symbolism of “Us”

  • The number 11: Throughout the movie, the number 11 appears repeatedly in various forms. It is the number of the “Hands Across America” event referenced in the beginning of the film, as well as the number on the ambulance that takes Adelaide to the hospital. Some viewers see this as a reference to the September 11th attacks and the resulting trauma inflicted on America and the world.
  • The scissors: The main weapon used by the doppelgangers in the movie is a pair of golden scissors. This can be seen as a symbol of the divide between the haves and have-nots in society, as scissors are traditionally seen as a tool for cutting or separating things.
  • The rabbits: The doppelgangers are frequently accompanied by rabbits, which are often used in medical testing and therefore representative of a sense of being “trapped” or controlled. This ties into the overall theme of the movie, which centers on the idea of a person’s ability to control their own destiny.

The Importance of Symbolism in Media

The use of symbolism in “Us” and other forms of media can be incredibly powerful in conveying complex ideas and messages. By using objects and images that carry multiple meanings, filmmakers and other artists can tap into the subconscious of their audiences and provoke deeper thought and discussion. This is especially true in today’s fast-paced world, where people are bombarded with information from all sides and often have little time to reflect on the bigger picture.

The Responsibility of Media and Entertainment

Of course, with great power comes great responsibility. Just as media and entertainment can be vehicles for positive change and enlightenment, they can also be used to spread harmful and destructive messages. In the case of “Us,” some critics have accused the film of perpetuating negative stereotypes of African Americans and other marginalized groups. It is up to those in the industry to be aware of the impact their work can have and make conscious decisions about the messages they choose to convey.

Positive impacts of media and entertainmentNegative impacts of media and entertainment
Can inspire empathy and understandingCan perpetuate harmful stereotypes and misinformation
Can raise awareness of important social issuesCan desensitize audiences to violence and other negative behaviors
Can encourage creativity and innovationCan promote unhealthy body images and unrealistic standards of beauty

Ultimately, the power of media and entertainment lies in its ability to both reflect and shape the society in which we live. It is up to both consumers and creators to use this power for good and ensure that the messages we send are ones of empathy, understanding, and positive change.

Rejection of Traditional Gender Roles

The movie “Us” symbolizes the rejection of traditional gender roles in several ways. Firstly, the main character, Adelaide, is a strong and independent woman who takes charge of her family’s safety in a time of crisis. She is not the typical damsel in distress but instead takes on the role of protector, which challenges the traditional gender stereotype that women are weak and need protection.

Secondly, the movie’s portrayal of the Tethered, a group of doppelgangers who are forced to live underground and obey their counterparts above ground, challenges gender norms by showing that the Tethered are not bound by traditional gender roles. Both male and female Tethered are seen wielding weapons and engaging in violent acts, breaking the stereotype that men are aggressive while women are passive.

The Rejection of Gender Binary

  • The Tethered are portrayed as genderless beings, challenging the notion that gender is binary and fixed.
  • Their red jumpsuits, which hide their physical features, further emphasize their lack of gender identity.
  • The absence of gender roles and stereotypes among the Tethered suggest that society’s rigid gender expectations are socially constructed and can be challenged and rejected.

The Dual Nature of Identity

One of the central themes of the movie is the duality of identity, which is explored through the relationship between the Tethered and their counterparts above ground. The movie suggests that our identity is not fixed but is shaped by our experiences and environment.

This theme is also reinforced through the characters of Adelaide and her Tethered double, Red, who are revealed to have switched places as children. This suggests that our identity is not inherent but is influenced by our upbringing and the opportunities afforded to us.

Symbolism of Scissors

The scissors used by the Tethered as weapons can be seen as a symbolic rejection of gender roles and binary identity. Scissors are traditionally associated with femininity and domesticity, yet the Tethered wield them as instruments of death and destruction.

DomesticityRejected, as scissors are used for violence
Gender rolesRejected, as both male and female Tethered use scissors
Unity and DivisionEmphasized by the two blades that come together but are also separate, reflecting the dual nature of identity

Influence of the counterculture movement

The counterculture movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s in America had a significant impact on the movie, Us, and its themes. The movement was a response to the conservative social norms of the time and represented a rebellion against traditional values, politics, and culture. The counterculture movement embraced values such as peace, love, and equality, and this is reflected in the movie through its portrayal of duality and the idea of “the other.”

  • The Number 9: The number 9 appears throughout the movie and is used to symbolize the counterculture movement. In numerology, the number 9 represents spiritual awakening and enlightenment. The counterculture movement was a quest for spiritual and personal freedom, and the number 9 is used to symbolize this. In Us, the number 9 appears on clocks, jerseys, and even the license plate of the Tethered’s car. It serves as a reminder of the movement’s ideals and the need for spiritual and personal growth.

The use of the number 9 in the movie is just one example of how the counterculture movement influenced its themes and symbolism. The idea of duality and the concept of “the other” also reflect the counterculture movement’s values and beliefs.

The counterculture movement sought to challenge the established power structures and create a more just and equitable society. This is reflected in the movie’s portrayal of the Tethered and their struggle for equality and freedom. The Tethered represent the marginalized and oppressed members of society, and their rebellion against their counterparts is symbolic of the counterculture movement’s rebellion against the establishment.

Counterculture Movement:Us:
Rebellion against traditional valuesThe Tethered’s rebellion against their counterparts
Quest for spiritual and personal freedomThe use of the number 9 to symbolize spiritual awakening
Embraced values such as peace, love, and equalityThe Tethered’s struggle for equality and freedom

The counterculture movement’s influence on Us is evident in its themes and symbolism. By exploring the concepts of duality and “the other,” the movie challenges the traditional power structures and provides a commentary on the struggle for equality and freedom. Through the use of the number 9, it pays tribute to the counterculture movement’s ideals of spiritual and personal growth.

The Fragility of Mental Health and Stability

Mental health and stability are crucial aspects of human life. While most people strive to maintain their mental health, some individuals struggle with keeping theirs in check. In the movie Us, Jordan Peele explores the theme of the fragility of mental health and stability.

  • The Wilson family represents the struggle with mental stability. Adelaide’s traumatic experience at the amusement park triggers her anxiety, leading to her distress and ultimately her struggle with mental health and stability.
  • The government’s secret experiment at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is symbolic of the modern-day problems society faces with mental health. The government’s effort to create perfect human clones mirrors society’s expectations of a perfect mental state, leading to increased pressure and unrealistic expectations for individuals.
  • The doppelgängers represent the darker side of mental health problems. The clones’ existence portrays how individuals can unknowingly become their worst enemies due to their own mental states.

The movie further highlights how mental health problems can trigger an individual’s actions, leading to massive devastation. Adelaide’s mental instability, caused by her experience at the amusement park, triggers her quest for revenge, leading to the chaos witnessed in the movie.

Jordan Peele masterfully uses the movie to highlight the importance of supporting individuals with mental health problems and creating a safe space for them to navigate through life. The movie advocates for increased awareness and acceptance of mental health issues, which could lead to individuals getting the help they need to maintain stability.

Red Jumpsuits and Golden ScissorsSymbolic of the clones’ rebellion and quest for equal rights, which the country’s mental health system does not recognize in individuals with mental health problems
The Tethered vs. The WilsonsSymbolic of the fight between stable mental health and mental health problems. It portrays how mental health can impact an individual’s life in drastic ways.
The Beach and the BoardwalkSymbolic of societal expectations of individuals to maintain stability. The beach represents life, and the boardwalk represents the increased pressures from society to fit into a particular norm.

In summary, Us is a powerful movie that explores the theme of the fragility of mental health and stability. The movie highlights the importance of addressing mental health issues and creating a supportive environment for individuals struggling with mental health problems.

What Does Us the Movie Symbolize FAQs

1. What is the main theme of Us?

Us explores the concept of duality in human nature – the idea that everyone has a good and evil side, and how these sides can be in constant internal conflict.

2. What do the scissors in Us represent?

The scissors represent the violent and destructive nature of the tethered, who use them to kill their aboveground counterparts. They also serve as a metaphor for the separation between the two worlds.

3. What is the meaning behind the Hands Across America reference?

The Hands Across America reference is a call to unity and solidarity, but in Us, it is turned into a sinister display of violence and chaos.

4. What does the use of mirror imagery symbolize?

Mirrors represent the duality theme in Us, as they reflect both the good and evil sides of the characters. They also represent the idea of the characters facing their inner selves and confronting their own flaws.

5. What is the significance of the title, Us?

The title Us serves as a play on words, representing both the tethered and their aboveground counterparts, as well as the duality within each individual.

6. What does the doppelganger symbolize in Us?

The doppelganger represents the dark, suppressed side of the tethered and highlights how similar they are to their aboveground counterparts.

7. What is the overall message of Us?

The overall message of Us is a warning about the consequences of ignoring or suppressing our darker sides, and the importance of recognizing and owning our flaws in order to live in peace and unity.

Closing Thoughts

Thank you for reading, and we hope this article has shed some light on the symbolism behind Us. The movie serves as a powerful commentary on human nature and the consequences of ignoring our inner demons. It is a thought-provoking and suspenseful film that is definitely worth watching. Be sure to check out our website for more articles on movies, TV shows, and pop culture.