*SPOILERS* — Thoughts on Nope
Power dynamic: The idea of a power dynamic is seen throughout the film. Horse tamers and horses, performers and directors, employers and employees. The characters with more authority demand compliance from others. There is also profit involved in these relationships.
The viewer: We constantly see symbols of the viewer. The obvious ones are the cameras, audience, motorcyclist’s helmet, and the well. The viewer is always there trying to either capture the moment for entertainment or profit.
OJ: OJ is an interesting protagonist because he is on both sides of the power dynamic. On one side, he is part of the capitalist audience, and tries to capture the creature on film for profit. On the other, he is also a performer who makes a living by taming horses for movies. He also has to take commands and obey his directors. OJ realizes that the creature doesn’t eat you if you don’t look at it in the eye, which upsets it. The characters accidentally triggered the creature the first time through loud music, revealing that loud noises also trigger the creature.
Ricky (Steven Yeun): Ricky runs Jupiter’s Claim, a small Western-themed amusement park. He does business with OJ, and has been buying horses from OJ ever since his father died. We later learn that Ricky has known about the creature for a while, and has been feeding horses to the creature to entertain an audience. Ricky shares the same fate as the actors that worked with Gordy the monkey; he is killed by the animal that he tries to tame.
Creature/monkey: The curtain alien creature is like the monkey — both are taken advantage of as performers. Ricky uses the creature to entertain his audience just like the monkey was used as an animal actor. There is a power dynamic between the actors and the audience in both situations. Ultimately, the animals don’t have control over their behaviors and have to be killed in the end.
Antlers Horst (film director): The film director has spent his career filming animals. As a result, he is physically sick and also shows signs of being mentally sick. All day, he watches footage of animals killing each other. He is also seen taking pills during the filming setup. I think the message is that the senseless pursuit of entertainment is harmful.
- The very first scene is from Ricky’s (Steven Yuen) perspective as he hides from the monkey. This scene is interesting because Ricky was an actor along with the monkey before the chaos ensued. After the monkey is triggered by a loud noise, Ricky becomes a silent viewer and is now a part of the audience.
- When the creature dies in the end, its remains resemble a dead animal.
- The scene with the monkey shows a shoe that is balanced on its bottom end, which seems to be impossible. As a viewer, we probably expect the shoe to fall yet it does not. The shoe defies our expectations, just like how the monkey defies its role by lashing out against the actors.