Moonlight’s Win Is The “Unified Team”’s First Gold Medal At The “American Trumplympics”
How the 1992 Olympics accurately describe America as a current (and future) competitive state
Moonlight’s tainted Oscar triumph over La La Land at this past Sunday’s 89th edition of the Academy Awards wasn’t just a study in how to attempt to create drama around the awarding of a golden statue. Rather, in it literally being the story of how the movie about black gay struggle beat the movie about happy dancing white people, it created the first stark representation of what for the purposes of this article we’ll call the “American Trumplympics,” or the gamesmanship for the future of the United States between Heterosexual Cisgender and Politically Conservative Caucasian America (the HCPCCA) versus the “Unified Team” of well, all non-heterosexual, cisgendered, politically conservative, Caucasian and non-Caucasian Americans. Instead of the modern pentathalon, ice hockey, or the 100 meter dash, these “Olympic” level epic competitions are over Grammys, Oscars, civil liberties, and the future of our nation.
I call the non-HCPCCA grouping (of which I am a member) the “Unified Team” as a nod to the 1992 Summer and Winter Olympics wherein after the dissolution of the Soviet Union (the USSR), the Commonwealth of Independent States, formed by 12 former Soviet republics (Armenia, Azerbaijian, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan), competed as a unit. When a member of this “Unified Team” won a medal, as Wikipedia notes, “the national flag of the medallist’s nation was raised rather than the Olympic flag, and a gold medallist’s national anthem was played rather than the Olympic Hymn.”
November 8, 2016 was the moment that the separation froze in stasis forever and competition began between America and its minority discontents, in which the “discontents” represent a multi-ethnic, poly-gendered, and politically liberal “Unified Team.” What many don’t realize is that the opposite of post-racial is racial. Thus, if the polar opposition in physical appearance, leadership style, manner of humanity, or well, most anything else between Donald Trump and Barack Obama teaches us anything, it’s that we need to accept this sudden, renewed dichotomy as where we are. Furthermore, if conditions persist, this is where we as a nation will remain. If this is where we remain, then the “American Trumplympics” demand to be acknowledged for exactly what they are, and the “HCPCCA Against The World” dynamic they present must be examined.
Foremost, this is not a fair competition. Trumpian politics almost seem to demand that the HCPCCA team be placed at the 90 meter point of the metaphorical 100 meter dash, while the Unified Team runs a metaphorical 110 meters in the same race. As well, in the case of the Grammys, competitors from HCPCCA-adjacent societies are allowed to win gold medals-as-gramophones, even in the face of the Unified Team going above and beyond their established level of excellence and embodying the struggle of one of its component races to deservedly win. It was almost maddening, until Sunday night’s turn towards the absurd.
In the same week that an apparent HCPCCA team member shot two Indian “Unified Team members” (he “thought they were Iranian,” by the way, thus proving that we’re “unified” because we all may in fact look alike), the Unified Team finally claimed our first major victory by claiming the Best Picture award at the Academy Awards for Moonlight. Of course, this wasn’t without some drama, as prior to Director Barry Jenkins and crew hitting the stage, the award was actually given to La La Land. Warren Beatty’s announcement caused faces to drop, #blacktwitter to implode, and another moment to occur wherein Heterosexual Cisgender Politically Conservative Caucasian America to take their place at the top of the medal stand.
However, it was short-lived as Beatty noted that he was “given the wrong envelope,” and that the *actual* winner was Moonlight. Almost instantaneously, the mood switched. Smiles abounded, #blacktwitter exclaimed in collective joy, and for one seemingly rare-of late moment, the “Unified Team” ascended to the podium.
What’s amazing is that the differences in critical review between the two films showcase the laughable-instead-of-crying advantage that the non-Unified Team gets in the “American Trumplympics.”
We almost awarded Best Picture to La La Land, a film that Jezebel notes, “Those who go to the movies to escape may find themselves seduced by its slick presentation of shallowness and celebrity worship. Those who go to engage with the world, I suspect, will be less impressed. I saw this movie a little over a week after Trump was elected and far from knocking me out of my funk, I was plunged further. The whole thing felt like such a waste of time. I squinted at the screen, trying in vain to find a point.”
Moonlight, the film that was, for about a minute, bested by this “waste of time,” was described by Time Out New York as “without a doubt, the reason we go to the movies: to understand, to come closer, to ache, hopefully with another.” The idea that Moonlight, like Grammy Album of the Year nominees Lemonade, (or Beyonce’s sister Solange’s A Seat At The Table) could exist as one of the most politically progressive, yet zeitgeist-defining films of its era, but be bested by a film that may be, at best, as Variety notes, “isn’t a masterpiece (and on some level it wants to be). Yet it’s an elating ramble of a movie, ardent and full of feeling, passionate but also exquisitely controlled,” is unfortunate.
Even deeper, on Metacritic, Moonlight holds a score of 99 out of 100, based on 51 critics, indicating “universal acclaim,” and was the site’s highest scoring film released in 2016. If this isn’t a case of Heterosexual Cisgender Politically Conservative Caucasian America starting the 100 meter dash with only footsteps to take before winning, it’s a fear-filled notion to presume what that actually looks like on an even worse level.
Alas, Moonlight’s tainted victory is the first major victory for the “Unified Team” in the four-to-eight year “American Trumplympics” with which we’re faced as a nation. It’s unfortunate that every single time that there’s a Super Bowl, GRAMMY ceremony, Academy Awards gala, or other situation wherein Heterosexual Cisgender Politically Conservative Caucasian Americans and Unified Team members are in the same room or on the same field, it’s competition. Again, given that the opposite of post-racial is racial, this is where we are.
And now, for the playing and singing of the Black National Anthem.