So, there is this lady called Camilla Long who writes for The Times and she decided to do a review of two of the most beloved black films in recent times. Twitter damn right crucified her for her opinion on Moonlight (less so Hidden Figures) – I mean, she got burned down to the ground for this thing. Ms Long’s review was deeply ignorant, offensive and at times breathtakingly dumb – but I feel sorry for her. Her moment of arrogance will follow her around for years to come, I suspect.
The section that caught my attention (the opening, no less) was:
The received wisdom on Moonlight, a film about gay love in the black ghetto, is that it is ‘necessary’ and ‘important’. It is an ‘urgent’ and ‘relevant’ examination of forbidden attraction in a world, ‘the streets’, that is largely hostile to gay men.
Only, relevant to whom? Certainly not the audience. Most will be straight, white, middle class. Nor is it particularly ‘urgent’: the story has been told countless times, against countless backdrops.
How an editor at The Times didn’t read that opening and tell her to try again, I will never know. For me, Moonlight is everything she mocks – it is “important”, “urgent”, “relevant” and very “necessary” – especially within the black communities across the planet.
I’m a black man, who grew up in a very religious household and was (still) obsessed with hip-hop. To say that I grew up with homophobic views is an understatement and I believe I am not rare. I cannot even begin to imagine how a gay black boy grows up and survives in this country, America or let alone Africa.
And that is what Ms Long is missing, Moonlight isn’t for gay black men who identify with the story – shit, they’ve lived it. Moonlight is for the rest of us, the ones that have created an environment where black gays feel like they have to hide who they are, or worse still, the ones that have completely ignored or rejected their existence.
That is what truly pissed me off about Camilla Long’s take – the way she poo-pooed the story, as if it has been told countless times. Are all gay films created equal? She isn’t a racist, but she is a straight up bullshitter.
So, yes… you should watch Moonlight. Be warned, it isn’t an enjoyable watch – beautiful in places, but more often it is agonisingly tragic.