So I've been seeing a few black men (not many haleloo) talk about their lack of desire for wanting to see 'Moonlight' because it has been categorized as a story about gay black men... To that I say...
I saw 'Moonlight.' I've been a fan of Barry Jenkins since 'Medicine for Melancholy' and it was through him that I was introduced to Tarell McCraney (the individual who wrote the play that the movie 'Moonlight' was based) and fell even deeper in love with his genius.
As black women especially we have always been forced to look at the person in the film, book, etc.; to look at the characteristics of the individual and make those relatable to our experiences as a person, but not as a BLACK person. That is why I can find myself in movies like Juno; in characters like Wednesday from The Addams Family, and Ally McBeal, because I have no choice. Characters that reflect how I am AND how I look are very few and inbetween, and to be able to connect on a deeper level I am forced to look past the differences, and focus on the commonalities. But, representation matters.... and so does authenticity. And there's something extremely special about seeing someone on screen that you can relate to, that also looks like you.
That is a privilege that white people don't even think about, and in this particular case, men don't either. These men that are so against seeing the film see someone that looks like them, but because of how they differ from the character on one thing, they refuse to believe that they could possibly relate to any other aspect of the character. The same way that white people will see a group of black people in a film and automatically label it a "black" film. Instantly distancing themselves from the narrative. With the influx of black programming studies have shown that more white people are tuning in and realizing that despite the fact that these characters don't look like them, they are indeed relatable. I think because black women are forced to view the world from this lens... Being so used to not "seeing ourselves" is the very reason why we are a lot more open-minded. But that's a blog for another day...
I wasn't going to say anything at all about the negative comments from black men that I've seen about the film; but I kept seeing the same types of comments, and it's starting to annoy me and since I can't mollywhop these folks, I figured I'd take the emotionally mature approach and be an adult and share my thoughts.
What I initially thought is that I relate to this, and I KNOW so many black men can identify with this narrative, and none of it has to do with sexuality. The absence of a father, the hopelessness of inner city life, the destruction that drugs cause, the longing for mentorship, and genuine friendship, the cruelty of other kids, and the lack of genuine love in the home or surrounding environment. Plenty of black men grow up with a skewed sense of who they are and should be, and are forced into these caricatures made up of figures present in their environment.
I'm certain so many men I know, straight or gay, can identify with elements of the story of 'Moonlight.' The struggle of a black man with barely any of the tools he needed to survive the world around him, trying to make it out of his environment while also trying to figure out how he fit into it in the first place.
I mean just look at The Allegra - the ending. Listen to his words - "Nobody has ever touched me like that." And then Chiron just laid his head on Kevin's shoulders. That moment had little to do with being gay, and so much more about needing another soul to connect to. It wasn't physical touch, it was needing to not feel alone. It was about being desperate for a connection and finding a friend. Now if you can't relate to that then consider yourself very fortunate. But if you just look at that moment in the film from the point of a person (ignore gender) telling another person (again, ignoring gender) "you are the only person who's ever touched me." If you can't relate to that and hurt for that person you have no soul..... And I'm SURE a lot of you f*ck boys outchea vehemently refusing to see the movie can relate more than you care to assess. #WhoHurtYou? #YouDon'tEvenKnow #BecauseItHurtsTooMuchToThinkAbout #SoYouJustContinueToHurtOthers #InsteadOfAskingYourselfTheToughQuestions #AndHealing.
I shall end this post with a great interview from bae Tarell McCraney :)