In a scene befitting a Hollywood movie, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences did exactly as everyone predicted it would do, awarding La La Land, a movie about making movies, the coveted prize of Best Picture. But then, says, Aisha Harris, in an unprecedented and historic move, they realized they’d awarded the wrong movie and made it right.
“After the 2016 election… [i]t would have felt out of touch with the political moment to reward a movie about the struggles of privileged white people whose greatest obstacles are essentially scheduling conflicts.” notes Harris.
But consider the historic achievement of the film itself, centered on a Black LGBTQ character. No movies featuring gay or lesbian characters have ever gotten Hollywood’s top award, not Cabaret, not Milk, or Dallas Buyers Club, not even Brokeback Mountain, let alone a Black queer.
“Moonlight is the type of movie that pretty much never gets made, and thus never gets rewarded.”
But there’s more to the story, argues Harris: The mere existence of “Barry Jenkins’ captivating story of a sensitive, vulnerable black boy in search of acceptance and human connection—by a black director and black writers and a predominantly black cast—”is in itself a sort of political statement.”