Conversation 8 – Moonlight

Kendice Marshall 

Introduction to Critical Thinking 100

Professor Ewa Barnes 

3rd November 2023

Conversion 8

Moonlight, written by Tarrell Alvin McCraney and directed by Barry Jenkins, was about the societal expectations of black men and masculinity, and the evolution of change in people’s character because of their past. This movie focuses on how the world tries to force you to act and become who they think you ought to be, telling you where they think you belong. Set in southern Black American culture, the main character, Chiron, struggles to figure out who he is and is vilified for who other people think he is before he even discovers it for himself. He experiences his first intimate and sexual encounter with a friend whom he has known since childhood, named Kevin. Kevin seems to be comfortable in his sexuality but has not revealed his sexuality due to the cultural and societal views that dictated homosexuality or anything of the like, as unnatural. Therefore, it was demonized and caused the brutalization and dehumanization of individuals who exhibited assumed stereotypical and/or “feminine” traits. Kevin saw Chiron being bullied because of this assumption. This prompted him to continue to create a persona that would not allow him to be seen as weak by his peers and become a target. This led him to betray Chiron and attack him after being peer-pressured into doing so. Chiron’s trauma and inability to defend himself, causes him to rebuild himself and create armor and metaphorical walls to protect himself. As a teenager, his armor was his bag. But as an adult, he built his body to become his armor, showing the world what he wants them to see. In the last scene, Chiron meets with Kevin ten years later and he says “ When we got to Atlanta, I started over. Built myself from the ground up. Build myself hard.

Chiron’s moral dilemma is deciding who he is and who to become. Morality is a particular system of values and principles of conduct, especially one held by a specified person or society. Chiron’s turning point was his teenage years, between his first sexual encounter, abuse from a bully, reaching his threshold with his drug-addicted mother, and getting arrested for hitting his bully with a chair after being beaten up by a group of boys including Kevin. If Chiron followed his conscience, I believe it would tell him to fight back and voice his thoughts and emotions in every moment he felt defenseless, unsupported, or unloved. This would lead him to not have to lash out when he did at the end of Act ii Chiron, allowing him to be genuine and unapologetic of himself and leave his mother to become something other than the leader of the Atlanta drug dealing system. In most situations as a young boy and a teenager, it seemed as if he did not know what to do. He often displayed hesitancy and incertitude in his decisions to follow his conscience which he showed in Act ii Chiron when he tried and wanted to defend Teresa, who was like a mother to him, but backed down due to fear and hesitancy. If Chiron attempted to do whatever would improve his own situation he would have to fight his bully and win, fight others to prove his “toughness” therefore proving his “masculinity” and have sexual relations with girls to debunk the homosexuality rumors. This would have to occur because his social environment supports cisgender heterosexual hypermasculine men.  If he chose to listen to his conscience it would not improve his situation immediately. He essentially would have to be Kevin. In the sense that, he would be creating a persona that is not true to who he is, to prevent previous torment.  It would probably lead him to the same place as an adult, trying to keep up appearances. Black American culture (especially in the South) usually supports protestant or catholic Christianity. But (to the best of my knowledge) most religions do not support homosexuality. Whichever religion the character believes in, if Chiron did whatever God or the scriptures said is right, he would most likely continue to suppress his sexual orientation and sexual identity because he would want to not disrespect the spiritual being that he believes in. This would lead him to not enter the drug dealing system and choose an alternate career but he would still be extremely traumatized and pick a job that would allow him to be hard and show a hypermasculine persona to be his armor of defense. What would make Chiron happy is to get his mother to rehab, live with Juan and Teresa, go to therapy and a psychiatrist, fight for and defend himself unapologetically, and be comfortable in his sexuality without having to conform to the pressures of being a specific type of black man. Chiron seems more comfortable and presumably feels safer at Juan and Teresa’s house even after Juan dies. They provided a haven for him, never judged him, and loved him as if he were their son. His mother made it hard for him. She loved him but her actions showed otherwise. Her hurt showed intentionality and directness in her ignoring her son, tracking money from him, and putting him in a position where he had to take care of himself at a very young age. By allowing him to have a safe, comfortable home life and being true to himself his mental and emotional life would be in good standing. Before he died, Juan was a father figure to Chiron. When Chiron was a young boy, Juan said “At some point, you gotta decide who you gonna be. Can’t let nobody make that decision for you.” If Chiron had followed the advice of this authority figure, and remembered this he probably would have stood up for himself. Being that he probably would not have remembered, he could have gone to Teresa about it and she would have told him the same thing; to stand up for himself, be brave, and not let anyone choose who he should be.

I make decisions on what makes me happy and what my conscience tells me. I try to make educated decisions and be genuine and honest in what I do. I try to be intentional with myself sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. If I were to choose a path for Chiron I would choose what makes me happy and what my conscience tells me, reasons from the Chaffe 7 moral positions. As shown in the movie people make decisions based on things such as what the world expects from them, how the world treats them, and how they treat themselves all based on the mental and emotional areas within us. If we make those risky choices for ourselves we may have a better chance of not just survival but living. Juan, Kevin, and Chiron all show signs of regret and understanding when they were adults that their choices made their lives how it is now. This movie showed love, where it comes from, and the fact it can come from many people. The most important love that Chiron didn’t get was love within himself. It’s hard to teach yourself what you haven’t been taught. But as an adult, I would have loved to see Chiron love himself and give himself the patience, time, and empathy that Juan and Teresa demonstrated for him.

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