In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue

“Moonlight” shows depictions of black masculinity and what can happen as a result of deviating from that role. From the start, Chiron does not play into the stereotypes of black masculinity, leading him to be bullied from a young age until adolescence. Kevin, on the other hand, is also attracted to women, making it easier for him to play a heteronormative role in school while hiding his queer identity. This is because blackness is not something you can hide yet queerness is.

Vaught talks about the state categorizing students into the bully and the bullied. In “Moonlight”, when Kevin is forced to hit Chiron, Kevin plays the role of the bully and Chiron plays the role of the bullied. They are both queer black men, but Kevin takes on the role of “perpetrator” while Chiron takes on the role of “victim.” We then see what happens when Chiron does take on the role of “perpetrator” when hits a fellow student with a chair. At that point, his queerness becomes invisible while his blackness determines how the institution treats him.

To the state, only White queerness can be visible. Black queerness cannot exist in our current institution since people who are both black and queer will only be visible as “black” and their queerness will not be acknowledged. Therefore, when anti-bullying legislation is made to protect queer youth, it cannot protect non-White queerness.

 

 

“Moonlight”: A Mainstream Mediator for Minority

Hello! I really adore movies and, after having watched the beautiful film Moonlight, I’m so ready to add it to my list of favorites. I have a lot of thoughts about it, maybe too many focusing on the cinematography, but I’ll try my best to link it back to the topics at hand.

The creators of Moonlight have such an intelligent method of storytelling that allows for a subtle, more natural realization of love and identity than many mainstream films. All aspects of its production point at conveying specific and nuanced tones throughout the film, exploring so much of its own themes without explicitly declaring them. My favorite example of this is the entire diner scene in which Kevin and Chiron finally reunite as men who have had the chance to experience their individual ups and downs. The use of dialogue or sometimes the lack thereof when they react to each other’s admissions is outstanding, as they each show how relieved they are to meet again and how much they have thought about each other over the years. For example, Kevin is visibly disappointed that Black has been dealing drugs and indirectly tells him so, saying that “that ain’t [Chiron]”. Black’s subsequent indignance at this points to the conflict that has been ever-present in Chiron’s life: he knows he isn’t himself as a “hard”, hypermasculine drug dealer, but he’s also so aware of the impossibility of behaving otherwise in the face of society. Even the hopeful conclusion of the movie is not explicitly stated, which is fitting since even with coming out and finding requited love, Kevin and Chiron’s share an embrace embodies both the relief in finding someone to share one’s true self and the support one needs to face a hostile future.

Moonlight has the power to feel real and relatable to an underrepresented intersection of identities, and so existence as a previously untold queer narrative is crucial. It’s interesting to consider that Moonlight’s value is not only in its representation of a gay black man in a community that follows traditional ideals of masculinity, but also in its exceptional beauty as a film. Perhaps a combination of its novel subject matter and its skillful handling of such was necessary to bring the movie to the mainstream, and this popularity allows it to speak to a wider audience and generate more social discussion. It certainly adds a unique and important voice to the entire body of film that is out there for us to consume.

I’m excited to talk more about this film and its implications in class. As for Sabina Vaught’s piece, I certainly found it more challenging to understand but that’s even more reason to figure out Vaught’s intentions with other people.

peace out,

Martina

Moonlight: Tenderness in a Harsh World

Watching Moonlight was quite an experience, and I feel it a beautiful film that all kinds of emotional chords for many reasons. It is undeniable that mainstream cultural representations have characterized Black men as hypersexual, hyper-heterosexual, and aggressive perpetrators of violence for centuries. After reading Vaught’s work, it was quite clear that the movie wanted to dispel this deeply ingrained and racist perspective, as well as the “extreme structural liberalism” found in the anti-bullying Act and so many other pieces of legislation which systemically erase the “collective existence of Black gay youth in schools”.

By following Little, Chiron, and Black’s life, we are exposed to dangers of a system that has continuously placed Black youth in danger and forced them into the role of “perpetrators”. Being from Miami, I am familiar with Overtown and Liberty City, two historically Black neighborhoods that have suffered innumerable blows at the hands of the government. Overtown is actually quite close to the Wynwood Walls which are now overrun with tourists and bourgeois citizens who couldn’t care less about the history of the area and the people it once belonged to. It was a relief to see that the movie accurately portrayed these areas and was true to the struggles of its residents. 

From the beginning of the movie, I felt a great amount of sympathy for Little and even for the other boys who he played with, especially when it was shown that the ball they were playing with was made of paper. These boys were thrown into a vicious cycle before they were even born, a cycle perpetuated by white supremacy. It was interesting and saddening  to see how stereotypical masculinity was such a key aspect of all of their lives, that they had to constantly  prove their “manliness” to one another in order to fit in.

Despite such prominent and toxic views of masculinity that colored the children’s lives, one of the most striking aspects of this film was the fleeting tenderness that characterized certain scenes regardless of them taking place in such a harsh world. Juan’s character was so important (shout-out for representing Black Cubans!!!) because a stereotypical “”thug”” figure, a drug dealer, a “perpetrator”, was portrayed as having a deep emotional connection with Little which unfolded in their conversations on the beach and in his home. He was not homophobic and did not shame Little for his questions. He gave him the strenght to be who he wanted to be. He allowed him a piece of innocence in a world where Black kids are not given the chance to be kids.

On a different note, I really appreciated the fact that this film portrayed queerness that isn’t hyper-sexualized. While I love steamy gay sex scenes as much as the next guy, I am always happy when queer characters are (rarely) not reduced to, as Vaught says, “their individual sexual predilections”. Even when Kevin gives Chiron a handjob, there wasn’t that icky feeling I get when it’s pretty clear a queer character is being hyper-sexualized. It was innocent, and another important scene characterized by a light tenderness, something which I was very grateful for.

Another message I took away from this movie that really hit home is the fact that sometimes, life is so fraught with chaos that you have no choice but to put your queerness on the back of your mind. Chiron, myself, and many other queer people who are layered with other marginalized identities sometimes don’t even have the privilege to focus on unpacking your queerness, because to do so would simply be too overwhelming. Repression becomes an unhappy means of survival, and when you are finally given the room to breath and be who you are, relief is immeasurable. The last scene, where Kevin caresses Black and we see Little reveling in the moonlight was incredibly moving, and I found myself letting out a breath I didn’t know I was holding.

Like I said, this movie brought on a wave of different feelings and I have so much more to say, especially about his mother, Teresa, and the role of women in this film. I’ll stop talking for now though, and I really look forward to this week’s discussion!!

Yours truly,

Leticia

Week 1: “Moonlight” and “Structural Liberalism and Anti-Bullying Legislation”

Welcome to the class blog!

To get us started, I want to propose a few tags for the blog posts to use as springboards. Remember that for the first round of blog posts, there’s no length requirement, so you can feel free to be brief (though you may also write a long post if you so desire!). Just make sure you are making reference in some way to at least one of the existing tags, and feel free to add your own.

–James