A Black, Gay Man has a problem with Moonlight winning the Best Picture Oscar
I am sitting here a black, gay man, wondering why Moonlight winning over Fences for Best Picture at the Academy Awards bothers me so and it finally came to me. Moonlight is certainly a beautiful portrayal of black gay love that fully embodies the complexity of black male sexuality like we have NEVER seen before on film. Tarell Alvin McCraney is a brilliant talent I have read for years in the theatre and have supported in going to see his work. My concerns are not from the artistic merit of the piece, that is solid. My issue with the Academy giving BestPicture to Moonlight over Fences is that Moonlight has no explicit critique of white supremacy or racism in it. Indirectly you might infer things from the systems of poverty and poor schools portrayed in the Miami neighborhoods seen there, but it is not directly addressed. Fences on the other hand directly critiques white supremacy and racism in sports, employment and general black life multiple times. It would have been a revolutionary act for the Academy to recognize the work of AugustWilson that way because of his explicit stance on white nationalism and how he disects it brilliantly in all of his work in the lives of beautiful blackness. In other words, Moonlight was the “safe” diversity choice for the Academy, in selecting it as Best Picture, what they are doing is killing two diversity birds with one stone- gayness and blackness, (Remember Brokeback Mountain did not win for Best Picture) and getting the diversity PR credit without picking the film that explicitly condemns white supremacy- Fences. Interesting choice in this Trumplandia right? Always be aware of the performance of race in pop culture people. Keep that performance studies lens clear. So while I congratulate the cast of Moonlight and Barry Jenkins on the beautiful work, the Academy gets no kudos from me, because I see what is going on here.