We were all astonished when the Oscar’s mishap for Best Picture occurred last Sunday at the 89th Academy Award’s Ceremony. Social media raged over the controversial moment and everyone celebrated the unforgettable plot twist. Although the moment was tabloid worthy, the pinnacle of everything is the message that Moonlight delivers and the importance of the precautions we as a society need to take ensuring the end of hypermasculinity among the black community. Hollywood has failed to create a notable project properly bringing awareness to the preconceived notion of what it means to be a black male and Barry Jenkins pristinely fills that void with Moonlight.
Moonlight captures the reality of a black male exploring masculinity and sexuality while growing up in an environment replete with adverse factors. The film also taps into the eschewed subject of men, especially minority men, disregarding their sentimental side in fear of others assuming they are gay. This mistaken conception poisons our demographic by creating a mindset of keeping a cold, hostile, and unruly reputation. Black males are taught at a tender age to be “hard nigga”. They are shunned for anything that doesn’t fit the criteria for being hood or street. Aspects such as the clothes you wear, to the music you like, and even your diction contribute to how you will be perceived by your peers.
We see the detrimental happenings at school, on television, and even under our own roof. Jokes taxing one’s sexual orientation are cracked and comments are made but at the end of the day, we fail to ask ourselves if the assumptions were appropriate. Did we take it too far? Slurs are exchanged and judgements are made. Are we conscious of the words we chose to speak aloud? We’re deteriorating and paralleling being gay or obtaining femininity with weakness. How are we expecting to instill sensitivity in our youth?
The story is set in Liberty City, Miami, an area reflecting the same components that manifest any other typical ghetto seen across the world. The main character, Chiron, faces the trinity crisis of being a homosexual black male. In addition to those inevitable components, the lifestyle in which he lives essentially puts him at a great disadvantage. Chiron lacked love from his addicted mother which contributed to him maintaining a closeted temperament, sheltering any type of emotion and straying from opening up. Juan played the father figure role, but at the end of the day, Chiron’s biological father was no where around. The reality is a broken record, constantly repeating itself throughout families. Shortfalling the proper nurturing from both parents ultimately resulted in Chiron perplexed when it came to his feelings.
The topic is heavy and many turn away from facing it, but we have to start checking ourselves. What does it take to be a man? What does it take to be a homosexual? There shouldn’t be any labeling or questioning of identity based on slight points. We also have to cease hammering this standard of what it takes to be a “real black man” in the minds of our black youth. Navigating our black boys into believing that they have to be “a man” about everything and lack empathy will lead them into a rough life full of faulty relationships and hard times. Influencing them to hide their feelings and not act a certain way because it’s “gay” eventually ends up building anguish.
Although some viewers may not have experienced the impoverished, homophobic, and lack of proper parental care shown in the film, they can get a precise feel as to what it is like actually going through such circumstances. The rawness of each scene is what makes this movie important. It hits home with honesty. Moonlight delivers that touchy subject candidly, without sugar coating or glamorizing anything for the sake of box office success.