Moonlight: A film redefining Black Male Identity.
(ThyBlackMan.com) A young man deals with his dysfunctional home life and comes of age in Miami during the “War on Drugs” era. The story of his struggle to find himself is told across three defining chapters in his life as he experiences the ecstasy, pain, and beauty of falling in love while grappling with his own sexuality.
Based on Tarell McCraney’s play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, Moonlight is a story of the multitudes that Chiron contains, examined at three different stages in his life: prepubescence, high school, and mid-20s. From his impoverished upbringing in Miami where he’s unofficially adopted by a drug-dealing father figure Juan (Mahershala Ali) to the film’s final reconciliation with Chiron’s old flame Kevin (André Holland), Moonlight compassionately examines the weight of societal expectations on the formation of identity and manhood.
Moonlight also discusses black male masculinity with male identifiers and bullying. Moonlight deals with an unspoken and also publically unseen circumstance of black male struggles. The market of the black male physique means that black men are necessarily kept on a perverse pedestal of hyper masculinity. There is little scope to explore other aspects of what makes a man a man whatever that may be.
How can a black man truly respect women? How is the black man supposed to be a father when all that is required of him is to be a “man”? How can a black man explore other sexual orientations, other masculinities or ways of transacting with other men) such as being gay/bi/trans, or at the very least being emotionally aware/sensitive/literate when all other men are sexual competition or threats?
So what can we do to shift this narrative? Show society that there’s more to black men than being the poster for “masculinity” It’s a problem when a man can’t even wear certain colors or eat certain foods without being called gay. It’s a problem when men seriously think showing woman affection is feminine and gay and a huge reason why the culture of black men disrespecting black women is so normalized. It’s a problem when you can’t watch a man cook for another man without him being questioned as gay.
This movie shows a bullied, neglected and all-but-silent child, he grows toward an understanding of himself and his world, and though it is agonizing to witness his progress, it is also thrilling. To be afforded a window into another consciousness is a gift that only art can give. To know Chiron character is a privilege. It’s also important that black women who are mothers and nurturing not tear down young black men because they are not fitting the said male stereotype. The movie uncovers a black mother that is a drug addict, and how she handles her son who is trying to figure out his self-identity.
Black Boys Cry
Black Boys have feelings
Black Men express themselves freely
Black Men be feminine and/or masculine
Black Men dream
Black Men be something other than a statistic
The stanzas consist of three chapters in the life of Chiron, played as a wide-eyed boy by Alex Hibbert, as a brooding adolescent by Ashton Sanders and as a mostly grown man by Trevante Rhodes. The nature and meaning of manhood is one of Mr. Jenkins’s chief concerns. How tough are you supposed to be? How cruel? How tender? How brave? And how are you supposed to learn? It is for that reason that machismo traditionally has been highly valued among black people, and homosexuality viewed as a threat to black masculinity.
Staff Writer; Amber Ogden
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