Moonlight recaptures Oscars

Rina Cakrani, Columnist

Despite some confusion at the Oscars on the winner of the Best Picture, “Moonlight” won the category in addition to numerous other wins. However, the impact of “Moonlight’s” victory on Oscars night goes beyond the award. For years, the Academy has been criticized for their lack of diversity in chosen nominees and also for acknowledging movies that have wrongly used white actors to portray characters that were originally people of color. The fight for recognition in the film industry has been a long one for many actors and directors of color, especially when they create works centered around prevalent issues in contemporary American society.

“Moonlight’s” victory is a groundbreaking event, because for the first time, a movie with a black staff and production crew not focused on slavery won the Best Picture Award. “Moonlight” highlights issues regarding black homosexuality that breaks present stereotypes and sheds light on  personal identity and self-discovery, providing the audience with a new and refreshing narrative that departs from mainstream Hollywood depictions of black lives. The win was not a response to the past criticism of the Oscars being so White; in fact it was a very well deserved win for the underrepresented who have to break through barriers in order to succeed in the movie industry. They made it despite the established white privilege and elitism that prevails in the movie industry.

Does this mean that the Oscars have moved on from their Whiteness and are ready to embrace a new ideology in which diversity and differences are deservingly supported? “Moonlight” is an unprecedented victory at a very significant moment for black people especially, but this doesn’t necessarily indicate that the Academy has left its white privilege behind.

As long as movies that talk about jazz like “La La Land,” yet  don’t involve black frontrunners of jazz music, continue to win awards, the Academy is still supporting and celebrating Whiteness. As long as the Academy awards Best Actor to Casey Affleck, a white man, who has been involved in numerous sexual assault cases, yet has silenced the victims with money, there is still white privilege in Hollywood.

“Moonlight” won, but the movie had to be excellent in order to win over the epitome of white mediocrity that “La La Land” was. Standards are higher for minorities than for white movies. “Moonlight” won, but their special moment still got robbed from them. The mistake that was first made, when “La La Land” was awarded Best Picture, robbed the “Moonlight” cast from hearing the name of their movie being announced. Instead, they had to witness the white cast and staff of “La La Land” go on stage and start talking about how important diversity is, when in fact the movie had almost exclusively white characters and arguably appropriates black history and  culture.

“Moonlight” serves as a statement of inspiration to its own community and perhaps this is the most important aspect of its victory. Those that thought they wouldn’t be able to make it in a world and specifically in an industry that is predominantly white now believe they can break barriers.