Despite the potential knee-jerk thought that “Moonlight,” is a gay love tale, it is less of that and much more an illustration of the labyrinth many black men navigate in hot PURSUIT OF IDENTITY.
Like never before, 2016 has presented a year where the complexity and dynamic of the black man has been front and center. First, we’re forced to deal with the departure of the first Black President- a President who has probably been the most openly emotional leader in our nation’s history (Which is a great thing). Next, we’ve been inundated with the vulnerabilities of the black man through repeated stories of unarmed killings at the hands of law enforcement, and soaring crime rates in cities like Chicago. Kid Cudi penned an open letter to his fans, the world, and the music industry of his battles with mental illness. Not to mention, the strength of the black man, even as a slave, received an international platform through projects like “Birth of A Nation.”
For centuries, the identity of the black man has been stifled in perception, riddled in misconception, one-sided, and stagnant. Enter “Moonlight,” amid the unfolding character of the black man to the world. This movie tackles fatherlessness, bullying, the importance of mentorship, drug abuse, self-identity, LGBTQ social issues, strength, courage, and the personal impact of incarceration all-in-one. This movie creates certain nostalgia for all black men, and positions the realist shit we have to deal with in the simplest context.
I personally believe this film would have been much more serving in TV format, as it could easily fall in line with content rich series that have multi-dimensional characters such as “Queen Sugar,” and “Greenleaf.” Moviegoers may end up feeling that they’ve watched a bit of a cliffhanger, and in a sense it is. That’s the point. Black men are way too complex to define based on the perceptions that have been given to us. Attorneys wear hoodies. Doctors listen to trap music. Not all gay men revel in high-heels, and not all straight men know how to change flat tires. This film deconstructs what you thought you knew about blackness, about men, and about gay, and empowers us with the mental liberation to construct black male identity on a case by case basis- which is what we should have been doing in the first place.