Best Picture Oscar winner Moonlight is a critically-acclaimed exploration of black and queer identities. It’s at once a coming of age drama, a film about the intersections of race and class, a love story, and — above all — the story of a black man grappling with his sexual orientation over the course of his life. It’s hard to summarize all that the movie entails. But according to Fox & Friend’s Tucker Carlson, it’s only a winning film because of political correctness.
“It was forgone,” Carlson said of La La Land’s short-lived victory on Sunday night. “Moonlight had to win because you knew what the film was about. And that’s part of the problem with Hollywood.”
Carlson explained that “the second you feel a political imperative it destroys your art,” calling the celebration of Moonlight “overbearing and pompous and boorish.”
Tucker Carlson is upset that Moonlight won because political correctness. Unclear if he's actually seen the movie pic.twitter.com/OQlsXMD8sU
— Abby D. Phillip (@abbydphillip) February 27, 2017
As the Washington Post’s Abby Phillip pointed out, Carlson didn’t indicate if he’d actually seen the movie, which also won Best Adapted Screenplay and earned Mahershala Ali his own award for Best Supporting Actor. His comments align with the old adage “Celebrities should stay out of politics.” Hollywood, the argument goes, has one purpose: entertainment. When it wades into “political” territory, they’ve gone too far — doing a job they weren’t asked to do.
Carlson’s statement is patently false. If the honor rewarded political correctness — a euphemism for minorities’ inclusion — perhaps people of color wouldn’t have been erased for decades by the Hollywood establishment and LGBTQ people would’ve been celebrated instead of overshadowed by white, cis men who portrayed them onscreen.
Instead, only 32 African Americans, 10 Latinos, and eight openly gay people won Academy Awards as of 2016 — a small fraction of the 2,900 winners since the first ceremony in 1929. They may have deserved accolades, but non-white and LGBTQ people have been losing for generations.
Underlying Carlson’s comments is the notion that artists —particularly black artists — should be quiet. They don’t have a right to produce something that pushes boundaries and audiences and then celebrate what they’ve created, even though they are historically ignored by the Academy and the entertainment industry writ large. They are arrogant beneficiaries of affirmative action driving the industry.
What’s most troubling about Carlson’s argument, though, is the inherent assumption that black and queer experiences aren’t a standard. To be black and queer is to live on the margins. They are experiences that only exist in the realm of politics, where “others” try to assert themselves and be heard. They aren’t mainstream or deserving.