“Moonlight”-Black History Cinema Series

On February 28th, I attended the “Moonlight” African American history event as part of the cinema series for Black History Month. The program was a film directed by Berry Jenkins and shows the progression of the main character, Chiron, and the struggles and encounters he has growing up in an African American society filled with drugs and poor influences. While growing up Chiron is called “little” rather than by his real name. His character is shy and has trouble growing up without a real family to turn to and get help while being bullied. As a teenager, Chiron struggles to find out who he is as a person. He doesn’t fit in and a pivotal scene occurs where he and his friend, Kevin, share and intimate moment and display their homosexuality. In the final stage of Chiron’s life, he goes by the nickname “black” and goes to see his mother at a drug treatment center. He also travels to visit Kevin who has gotten married and no longer has the same affection for Chiron. Throughout the film there are references to, and examples of black masculinity being a major theme which also incorporates the use of a African American cast creating a lasting impact for the audience, both of which contribute and show how Moonlight is a valuable program to attend while learning about African American history.

Black masculinity is one of the major themes throughout the story of Chiron’s life. From an early age he finds himself as an outsider to the other groups of kids. There are times where he runs and hides so that he won’t be beaten up or humiliated by others. Being a black child growing up in an impoverished area, there are many expectations of him, most of which he fails to live up to. He first asks what it means to be a faggot when he is called one at school. He is told it is “a word used to make gay people feel bad” and that he shouldn’t feel ashamed by it. The progression of Chiron being a homosexual leads him to be an outsider in social situations and leads him to be seen as weak. Chiron begins to hide his inner feelings which can be seen later in his life when he grows up to be a drug dealer and grows to be big and strong. In reality, Chiron is very tender, soft, loving, and kind figure who doesn’t understand himself and is lost in his surroundings. Chiron says “I haven’t really touched anyone since” in a scene at the end of the movie which leaves the reader questioning both Chiron and Kevin’s futures. In order to conform to the expectations of people around him he doesn’t allow people to recognize his inner feelings and intentions. The movie shows the powerless struggle that Chiron faces as a black male with the expectations that he is something that he isn’t.

The movie moonlight emphasizes the greatness of African American directors and casts in Hollywood and overall film community. With Berry Jenkins, an African American cast, and other black talent behind the camera this movie proves that these types of productions are possible and likely to be more successful as people begin to take notice of the great steps taken towards greater diversity in the film industry. The movie helps to show the benefits and positive impacts that black film makers have to the movie industry and provide the opportunity to create future films that will bring more African Americans ideas and voices into future productions. Moonlight is a rare film in the ways that it is a mainstream movie that looks both at the issues of race discrimination and LGBT issues. It is significant to black history month because of the rarity of this film to touch on the issues and to reach so much success in laying a foundation for other great works like Black Panther to be created and shown to people everywhere.

This program created connections between what we have learned about in class with the lack of opportunities given to African Americans during the founding of the United States and how there are times when opportunities are still not given in industries such as in film. These people are being seen as inferior and not capable of the same talents and skills that they most certainly do have. It is important to have movies like this one to show that it is okay to be African American and homosexual. By showing more movies such as this one I think people will begin to embrace each other’s differences and grow closer as a whole. I hope to see more progress made in the film industry because after seeing both Moonlight and the Black Panther, I have an even greater interest in seeing what African American producers will continue to create.

Image 1: Chiron and Kevin embrace in closing scene



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