We all know the president likes to tweet. But his Twitter fingers were surprisingly silent Sunday night as Black, Muslim and queer citizens disproved his warped view of American greatness at the Academy Awards.
A Steve Harvey-esque mix-up brought the cast and crews of Best Picture competitors, La La Land and Moonlight onto the stage at the same time for an awkward moment that could be in American history books for its metaphoric value.
As the all-White La La Land cast begrudgingly handed the Best Picture statue over to the all-Black Moonlight team — but not before eating up valuable stage time with their own “acceptance” speeches — America witnessed a moment that said more than a thousand motion pictures could about the strange culture war that is currently raging within America’s borders.
Though it was Moonlight that made history with it’s win for Best Picture, the headlines the following day appeared to focus predominantly on heaping on La La Land’s producers for handing the trophy over with grace (as if they had any other choice). Another case of white folks appropriating what rightfully belongs to Black folks, and then earning heaps of praise for the simplest gesture of correction.
Interesting that The Washington Post, like many other media outlets and people on Twitter, decided to put a White man in the center of this narrative — the very thing Moonlight successfully avoided in the film.
America has finally proven it can sit through a movie about non-White people without any White saviors roaming the margins. Moonlight didn’t need Brad Pitt as blue-eyed Jesus or Halle Berry as Billy Bob‘s play thing to take the crown. A story about the humanity of Black people is the best picture Hollywood created in 2016. A poor queer man’s coming of age conjured universal empathy in a time when America’s leader is running for the title of the world’s biggest bully. That, however, didn’t seem to be enough for some of the La La Land producers to step aside when they knew they had lost, and for the mainstream media to refrain from heaping praise on Horowitz and his squad.
Trump heads, truthers and Hoteps will give the credit for Moonlight‘s last-second win to conspiracy theories about a liberal, gay or Muslim agenda. Hidden Figures, like Katherine Baker and the phenomenal women it is based on, will be discredited as “affirmative action hires.” But there’s no hatred Tomi Lahren-gitis can spew that will dim Oscars shine.
True, nobody should be chasing the acceptance of others. But Hollywood’s standards of excellence are universally respected. The checks that will follow these wins should be applauded by any true American. Hidden Figures has been a more profitable investment than President Trump so far. Who’s making America great again?