It’s More Than Just a Movie

Why It’s Important that ‘La La Land’ Conceded to ‘Moonlight’

I’ll start this off by acknowledging my strengths on this subject and my weaknesses.

Strengths? I’m queer. I’m cis-gendered but my sexual identity is more fluid. The nuances aren’t relevant to this story but they are there. Maybe I’ll share one day, maybe I won’t. That’s up to me. I’m pretty aware for a white girl when it comes to race relations. I don’t even like using that term but here we are in a ‘post-racial’ society. (Quotation use there is to denote straight up lies.)

Weaknesses? Lots. Laziness, mental health issues, awkwardness…but, most importantly, whiteness. This comes with a strong level of privilege so it is not to say that being white is a weakness. It is to say that I am limited even in my “woke-ness” when it comes to addressing this issue. Don’t pity me. Instead, read sources from people of color when I fall short. #NoWhiteTearsHere

Another weakness? I haven’t seen ‘La La Land’ and I never plan on it. Why? Racism. Hollywood, despite it’s “scary liberal agenda,” is still rampant with racism. White washing is a huge issue. To put it simply, white washing is when a story is full of people of color but they are intentionally replaced with white people to make it more ‘approachable’ or whatever non-problematic term people come up with. You’re welcome to google it more if you need to catch up.

If you aren’t convinced Hollywood struggles with it, click:

here or here.

If you think it’s old news, here’s one article and a video, in case you need a visual.

Also, here’s one of my favorite articles on this issue.

(FYI, I’ve skipped the blatant racism of old Hollywood that’s been whitewashed by history. So, there’s that.)

But that’s just race.

Then there’s the way Hollywood handles LGBTQ representation. How about ‘Stonewall’? Yeah, that movie in which the white cis-gendered gay director admits he hired actors he would sleep with instead of accurately hiring the black trans women who would be the historically accurate reflection of who provided the foundation of our movement?

(Yeah, it failed because we boycotted that ish.)

Back to ‘La La Land’…a white person’s false dream….and how it’s racist. And full of offensive whitesplaining. It’s painful. Even the comedically genius libertarian cesspool of Danny Devito and company agree. (psssst: white women – here’s a good feminist argument in case you’re lost.)

Here’s a good list of queer black musicians they could have based this on. Fascinating men, women and non-binary people who actually influenced music for the better.

Here’s another list of activists and historically important black queer figures who got erased from a history written by white people, especially people who worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. So I’m probably upsetting both white people and black ‘men’ who have a volatile view of homosexuality because of what we sold you while you were slaves and Christianity helped keep y’all “in check.” (Sorry. Even as a minister, I won’t sugar coat the history of my faith.)

Hollywood, from award shows to special events, reminds us that they provide the human narrative. Hollywood prides itself in bringing human experience and emotion to the forefront of our collective consciousness. They literally spend months crafting ways to get us misty-eyed over montages, applauding over speeches, and crying whenever the (let’s be honest) flawless Meryl Streep glides across stage in a way that can only be upstaged by…oh, I don’t know…every black woman ever nominated? (Let’s also be honest, Taraji P Henson’s boobs were AMAZINGLY BETTER in her dress than mine even though she has decades of age on me and is not sitting here in yoga pants and a sports bra.)  (Also, if we want to distract from race and queer issues, we could go into how they have no right supporting rape victims when they continually reward abusers and rapists like Johnny Depp, Casey Affleck and Woody Allen. Again, google is your friend. I won’t do the research linking for you when it’s not the main issue of my post.)

Hollywood constantly wants to let you know they tell stories, write narratives and have profound effect on social perspective. They take great pride in it. It’s kind of their thing™.

So it can be argued that when they go from actively ignoring a narrative to also erasing people entirely, they are culpable in how society views others, right?

Refresher course/conclusion of previous points: Black people are consistently erased. Non-white, non-male, non-cis-gendered, non-stereotypical gay people are poorly represented. ‘La La Land’ not only ignores these representations, it actively erases them. ‘Moonlight’ represents, features, stars, applauds, and highlights, through raw narrative, a variety of queer and black experiences. And it does it so well.

So here’s why you non-empaths may be able to understand why it’s not ‘just a movie.’

The risk of suicide for LGBTQ youth is 4 times greater than the average. If you’re a ‘regular old black dude’ who took over the queer-black-women led and created Black Lives Matter movement, time to read up on police violence against trans POC. Please don’t forget their names, too.

2015 saw a high in transgender murders. 2016 and 2017 will most likely yield higher numbers. A literal blessing to Laverne Cox for representing the transgender women of color at high risk. Here’s maybe a start to understanding why so many of us roll our eyes when Hollywood establishment folk “risk themselves by speaking out against Trump.” Let me know when he’s actually going to kill them. Maybe then my eyeballs will stop moving.

Bookmark this and keep track of rising hate crimes against non-gender conforming POC here.

So, let’s make it even more personal. I’m from New Orleans. Just this weekend, Chyna Doll Dupree was murdered. She was a transgendered women of color loved by so many. Not only is she being added to the ridiculously high statistics of trans WOC being murdered, her family has to deal with horrific media failure. I refuse to even link the newspaper sites I so often am proud of as a native because they misgender her, call her a drag queen in the headlines, and refer to her by her dead name. They don’t deserve the traffic or the hits. To add insult to injury, it wasn’t even at the request of her family. Often, family is unaccepting and forces the media to refer to their “loved one” by the name they were born with and the gender they feel that person was designated at birth. This is a problem on it’s own. However, her family was more than supportive. Every interview quotes family members who name her and gender her correctly. They show nothing but love, acceptance and support.

And, on top of that, did you know it is perfectly legal by precedent or specific law in every state but California to murder a trans person in “self-defense”? They call it “trans panic” and it stems from the exact same argument called “gay panic.” It holds up in a court of law. Fun. Especially under the reign of the cheetoh-faced president who won’t admit why his wife is hiding from him in New York.

(Okay, that was petty. But I don’t regret it. She may be milking her financial situation but I truly feel bad for the emotional abuse he probably constantly ‘thrusts’ on her. I don’t like that my tax money pays for her and their son to live elsewhere but I would probably feel worse if our tax money forced them to live with him consistently. I refuse to financially condone abuse. Slavery already forced too much rape via presidents into our political homes. Exhibit A in case you’re like 300 years late in figuring this out.)

Have your own opinions on the script writing or the make-up or the cinematography or the acting or the costuming. But I don’t trust white straight or gay cis-gendered male culture. And neither does the rest of the LGBTQ community. And we have reason to. It’s not just a movie. It’s our lives.