The films Moonlight and Get Out are phenomenal pieces of art; both contain depth in terms of storylines, character development and symbolism. They have been recognized and praised by the academy or by reviews from various film critics. However, what makes these films exceptional is not the recognition they have received, but the representation and imagery they provide to a minority community.
Moonlight provides representation to homosexual African-American men, while Get Out’s symbolism and imagery speaks volumes about racism in America. These stories are worth more than just a watch and provide a deeper meaning translating far beyond the movie screen.
Representation is important, especially among homosexual black men. According to GLADD, an LGBTQIA media source, only 4.8 percent of characters in primetime television identified as LGBTQIA and even less were African-American. Representation is important because it provides visibility and validation to people who do not see themselves in the characters they watch.
Moonlight follows the story of Chiron, a gay black man, in three stages of his life—childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Chiron struggles with an abusive, drug-addicted mother, bullying in school and sexual confusion. The film hits key points in which many gay men can relate to: the confusion of realizing your sexual orientation, the disapproval from parents and the constant battle of what people say is right and what you feel is right.
The film brings Chiron’s identity struggles to life and illustrates the struggles of poverty and drug abuse in the black community.
On the other hand, Get Out tackles the subject of racism with countless images and symbols scattered throughout the movie. It serves as a reminder the inequalities black Americans still face today. If people cannot see racism or know it exists, it is impossible to eradicate. Get Out brings these issues directly into the spotlight.
“It became more clear than ever to me that race was a conversation people were increasingly uncomfortable having … So this movie, the purpose of it became to represent the black experience …” said Jordan Peele, director of Get Out, during an interview for The Verge.
The story follows Chris Washington, a young black man being introduced to his white girlfriend’s family. Throughout the film, the audience is exposed to clear racial-themed symbols and images: Chris “picking” cotton, his girlfriend “segregating” her colored cereal from the white milk and a scene directly related to the current issue of racially charged police brutality.
Get Out and Moonlight bring far more than entertainment to the table—they offer realization and remind us of what we need to remember as a society. They provide a platform to speak on important issues and more films like them should be made in the wake of their success. The only way to solve issues is to talk about them and come to an understanding—and these movies surely have people talking.
John Lee is a marketing freshman