Themes of Gender, Sexuality, Race, and Class in "Moonlight"
They understand that the primary way for them to demonstrate their ‘hardness' is to physically conquer one another. They also accept that the reason for Chiron's exclusion from the in- group of young boys is his failure to ‘perform' this idealised version of masculinity. Kupers further refers to "the need to aggressively compete and dominate others" as oneof the most problematic inclinations under the influence of toxic masculinity. This notion is developed in the second chapter of the movie, where Kevin is persuaded to play a game of ‘Knock Down, Stay Down', which requires him to attack someone until they are unable to get up. His peers hold him in high esteem for his previous ‘performance' of brutality, and in order tomaintain this reputation for being ‘hard', Kevin is led to betray his friendship by preying on Chiron. The game itself might be seen as a metonym for this impression of toxic masculinitywhereby some are uplifted for their ability to dominate, which is inextricably bound with the ability to suppress. As one who is victimized for not being ‘hard' enough, Chiron's only options are to ‘stay down' or to endure more abuse. It is this very urge to dominate that eventually sends both Chiron and Kevin to prison, which is a testament to its toxicity. Through thesedepictions of physical violence, Jenkins allows us to contemplate the glorified notions ofmasculinity and its internalization into the psyche of adolescent boys.
One night Chiron and his friend Kevin meet at the beach and after a while they start to kiss. It is also in the second stage of the film when Chiron smashes a chair into Terrel's back in the classroom. In the final stage, Chiron is represented as an adult who deals drugs. The war on drugs policies and media representations in the US-America, which targets African American population have conveyed the message that black people and criminality are inextricably related (Welch 2007, pp. 280-283). In parallel to this, Moonlight reflects this stereotypical link between drugs and black population. Nevertheless, there is an important progressive point in Moonlight, which is worth being considered: it is a film with an all-black cast. That is to say, it offers new possibilities for diverse representations. Even though the film confirms the stereotype of black people of lower class as using and selling drugs, it also represents middle-class characters such as black teachers and black police officers throughout the film, which normalizes the idea that African American population is heterogeneous (Willig, C 2008).
It’s a nervous glance between two young men who know something is a little different about their relationship but society has given them no words to express it. And it’s in the final scenes of the film—in which Jenkins knows he’s laid the groundwork, trusts his actors and allows the emotions of what’s unsaid to provide the dramatic thrust—that “Moonlight” makes its greatest impact. Jenkins deeply understands that it is human connection that forms us, that changes our trajectory and makes us who we are.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2016, Results from the 2015 national survey on drug use and health: national findings, viewed 25 August 2017, < http://www. oas. samhsa. gov/nsduh/2k5nsduh/2k5Results. pdf. >
Thornham, S 1997, Passionate Detachments: An Introduction to Feminist Film Theory, Arnold, London; New York.
Watercutter, A 2015, ‘Tangerine Is Amazing—But Not Because of How They Shot It’, Wired,
Willig, C 2008, Introducing qualitative research methods in psychology, Maidenhead, England: McGraw Hill.
Welch, K 2007, ‘Black criminal stereotypes and racial profiling’, Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, vol. 23 no. 3, pp. 276-288