‘moonlight’ can’t be denied: even white hollywood had to (reluctantly) agree

February 27, 2017

In the history of the Oscars, there has never been a Black film–a film whose director and cast are Black and storyline centers Blackness–to win Best Picture. And last night, we thought that that trend would hold true, that another mediocre movie about whitewashed jazz in Los Angeles would win, and that was what happened, but only for a moment. Last night, the producers of the Oscars made a huge blunder, giving Warren Beatty the wrong envelope to read from during the awards, naming La La Land as the Best Picture. In an unprecedented mistake, the producers and cast of La La Land had to hand over the award to Moonlight, the actual recipients of the Oscars highest honor. Hollywood finally had done something right, but even in their accuracy in the award’s rightful owners, a bit of that excitement was stolen in the moment. The collective joy that would’ve manifested had the announcement come outright and without mistake is lost, but not for long. Moonlight represents the possibilities for Black film unbounded to white standards of cinematography, photography, writing, casting, and production. The movie was low-budget, independent, and for all intents and purposes “should not” be in the running for the Oscars Best Picture, which rewards movies that lack diversity or vast reach consistently. But Barry Jenkins & co. let their creativity and authenticity shine through and for the first time ever, a Black film, a queer film, a heavy and heart-wrenching and hallowed story about a Black man in his vulnerability, a Black child and his growing was able to capture the attention of the world and shine through. Sincerest congratulations to the cast & crew of Moonlight, we were all rooting for you and your win means more to us than you’ll ever know.

By T. McLendon, AFROPUNK Contributor