Watching any award show can be frustrating—they’re long, they’re tedious, and there are too many commercials—so I’m not going to make this intro any longer/more frustrating than it is already.
Moonlight won the Oscar for Best Picture. End of Sentence. Let that be the end of the sentence.
Moonlight, the story of a black, queer man growing up in Miami, won the Oscar for Best Picture. Yes.
To change the headline, to say “HOLLYWOOD SCANDAL: STEVE HARVEY MOMENT AS MOONLIGHT ACTUALLY WON THE OSCAR” is to take away from this moment. This very important moment.
In a year and time when the rights and bodies of LGBTQ people are being arbitrated over, when people of color are being targeted, when minorities are being further marginalized, let us not sully this moment. Moonlight, an exceptional film, won. It won.
In their speech, Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty touched upon diversity, boldness and strength represented in artistic works. Those are very important lodestones for us to carry with us into this next year—a year that has been marked by several different upsets of various sorts. La La Land, despite whatever accolades it deserved, wasn’t a movie that represented all of that. That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t imporant. But it’s like how 25 won “Album of the Year.” It shouldn’t have.
“Of the Year” should indicate something that encompasses the entire year. And in the same way that Lemonade touched upon Blackness, womanhood, police brutality, and politics—Moonlight did that. And in this moment, in this time that is so fraught with chaos and darkness and meanness, it is such a relief that there is some recognition for the accomplishments and contributions of black and queer artists.
I think it’s a tough act to balance art with artists. It was tough to see Casey Affleck take the Oscar for Best Actor. Especially in this year, it is tough to watch men who have accusations of sexual assaults leveled against them receive widespread validation.
It was tough to see that as much progress the Oscars made this year—Mahershala Ali won Best Supporting Actor as the first Muslim Actor to win an Oscar, Viola Davis won her first Oscar for Best Supporting Actress and is the first Black woman to win an Oscar, Emmy and Tony for acting, obviously Moonlight, and more diversity in the nominations—we are still affirming white men with allegations of sexual assault.
Maybe Casey Affleck truly had an amazing performance, but what does it say about us that we validated that? That if your performance is good enough, we’ll forget those three instances of assault? That if you have enough money, not even a Pussygate scandal will cost you the Presidency?
On another note, Patricia Arquette pointed out that her sister, trans actress Alexis Arquette, who passed away in September of 2016, was not included in the “In Memoriam” at this year’s Oscars. And unfortunately, when talking about what the wider public can do for trans youth on the Vanity Fair Post-Oscar livestream, Arquette was cut off to make way for Jon Hamm & Co. talking about licorice (unclear). So I did a little research—you can donate to the ACLU, donate your money or time to the Trans Lifeline, get involved at your local level, and be vocal about support for trans rights.
Sometimes validation comes from the top, but most importantly—and most crucially—it comes from the roots, from the people, from us. On a $1.6 million budget, Moonlight grossed $25 million world-wide. Gavin Grimm, a young trans student from Virginia, is bringing his case to the Supreme Court. Change happens, great things happen, from the ground up. Small things become big things, and then those things become world-changing.
Moonlight won the Oscar for Best Picture.