Moonlight’s Shocking Oscar Triumph



Dear friends of OBV this is Teshura Adams first article for OBV. She is a intern and a Boston University undergraduate studying international relationship and politics. She will be doing a wide range of work with us including writing, campaigning and research. This is very insightful article, which goes way beyond the hyperbole of Oscar night. Well done Teshura.

Simon Woolley

Moonlight made a surprising triumph Sunday Night when it won the Oscar for Best Picture of the Year. Many expected LaLa Land to bag Best Picture --and for a good three minutes, we all thought it did. Warren Beatty was mistakenly handed the wrong card and announced that La La Land as the winner. Out of this confusing blunder came an unexpected moment of pure joy when produced rushed to stage to announce that it was actually Moonlight that won.

The Oscar blunder has overshadowed Moonlights success with many instead praising the cast of La La Land for the way they graciously handled an embarrassing moment. But we must not let a somewhat entertaining three minutes completely overshadow the sheer importance of one of the greatest films in modern era.

Directed by Barry Jenkins and based on a playwright by Tarell Alvin McCraney, Moonlight journeys the growth of a young black boy living in Miami through three phases of his life as he struggles to make peace with his identity and sexuality against an un-nurturing environment that has completely rejected him.

Moonlight's success has made a harrowing achievement on two levels. First, in an award show dominated by white films, white directors, white actors, and white stories--Moonlight is the first black film with an all black cast to win picture of the year. What also made this achievement so special was the fact that it was not "slave" movie. The black community has been critical of slave movies for constantly portraying us in positions of powerlessness. Yet Moonlight was not scared to be vulnerable and still became a story of empowerment and the learning of self-worth.

But it's Moonlights second level of achievement that is the most important. Moonlight confronted the intersectionality of race and sexual orientation where gay black men not only face oppression from white society but also from their own black community--a community where, if no-where else, they should feel safe but don't. Black America has long fought against white supremacy but has often ignored the homophobia and toxic patriarchy within its own community that has pushed black LGBT issues and black women's issues to the side. Straight black men remain the dominant voice within our community--and though they do face racial oppression, that does not excuse their straight male privilege.

Moonlight won Sunday night but so did all the silenced voices that have been ignored for so long. Moonlight's success means Hollywood will begin to take these marginalized stories more serious.

Teshura Adams