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‘Moonlight’ cheated out of spotlight

By Jerusalem Nerayo

After the Golden Globes, I was sure “La La Land” would be the recipient of a term that made its way around the World Wide Web– Oscar bait.

“La La Land” is the perfect, feel-good musical discovering the potential of dreamers that pays homage to Old Hollywood. The movie is nothing short of comforting, a great Saturday-night family movie to lift up your spirits.

Yet I couldn’t seem to put it to scale with the other movie I watched with my sister two weeks prior– “Moonlight”. “Moonlight” delves into the complications of being a masculine, homosexual black man in lower-end Miami.

I held onto my seat, gave numerous glances at my sister, and withheld my tears during the one hour and 51-minute drama. Barry Jenkins, the director of “Moonlight”, tackles a complex, sensitive topic the black community has long refrained from, longer than the general public.

And I’ll admit, that was the most uncomfortable movie-sitting I’ve ever experienced. “Moonlight” took me to places I’ve previously sheltered myself from. Upon leaving the theater, I had a resounding “I hated it” reaction.

The night I watched the movie, the day after, the weeks after, even now I reflect back on the conflict of the movie between maleness, blackness, and homosexuality. And how this conflict seeks to weave into a seamless intersection of factors but unfortunately cannot break the bounds of both poverty and society.

It’s a sad movie. It’s powerful. It makes an impact. It calls for all of us to have an open mind. And that’s why my “I hated it” became “This is the best movie I’ve ever watched.” The effect of the movie dawned on me in hindsight.

So now I’d rather watch the uncomfortable film, the one that never leaves me content in the end but holds true to the deepest realities and breaks away at delicate topics.

That’s why I had a sinking feeling upon hearing the Oscar best-picture mix-up. The recognition alone a film from independent entertainment company A24 would normally receive by winning best picture would put the subject matter to a national if not worldly scale. We’ve raised entertainment to the highest of our praises, so why not broadcast such an undiscussed topic to the world?

That did happen but in the most infuriating way. The audience of Dolby Theatre, and the viewership all around the world eventually heard that “Moonlight” did win best picture at the Oscars, yet they couldn’t help but focus on the mix-up itself amongst “La la land” and “Moonlight”. Now, fewer articles will highlight the impact of openly discussing the relationship between masculinity and homosexuality. Not as many black boys will be told it’s okay to love someone else of the same gender. Fewer people of low-income areas will understand they aren’t alone in this plight of poverty in current America.

The “Moonlight” cast will never get a do-over. The Oscars couldn’t satiate the hopes of “Moonlight” lovers now that the mix-up has been embedded into the thoughts of viewers and readers all over the world.

Mistakes happen. It’s just terribly unfortunate that the word “mix-up” rather than “Moonlight” comes to mind when reflecting on the 2017 Oscars.

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