Advertisement

Shadow and Myth: On Stranger Inside and Moonlight

  • Jared Sexton
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter addresses Cheryl Dunye’s Stranger Inside (2001), a made-for-television film about a young black lesbian prisoner seeking her own incarcerated mother by transferring to a higher security facility. It explores Stranger within the context of Dunye’s meditation on the psycho-politics of black kinship as a matrix of disinheritance. Black female masculinity here questions the relation between a state-sanctioned interdiction of black kinship and the willingness to suffer or inflict violence to undo its effects. The racialized dislocation of embodiment, gender expression, and sexual practice serves also to upset any normative striving for coherent social identity, a point explored further in Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight (2016). The book closes with a critical reading of this Oscar-winning film that draws out its philosophical, even mythical qualities.

References

  1. Als, Hinton. 2016. Moonlight Undoes Our Expectations. New Yorker, October 24. Accessed May 28, 2017. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/10/24/moonlight-undoes-our-expectations.
  2. Anderson, Melissa. 2016. “The Sensuous Moonlight Dares to Let Black Men Love.” LA Weekly, October 18. Accessed May 28, 2017. http://www.laweekly.com/film/the-sensuous-moonlight-dares-to-let-black-men-love-7497012.
  3. Arikha, Noga. 2007. Passions and Tempers: A History of the Humors. New York: Harpers.Google Scholar
  4. Attlee, James. 2011. Nocturne: A Journey in Search of Moonlight. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bataille, Georges. 1991. Reflections on the Executioner and the Victim, trans. Elizabeth Rottenberg. Yale French Studies 79: 15–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bradshaw, Peter. 2017. A Visually Ravishing Portrait of Masculinity. Guardian, Febraury 16. Accessed May 28, 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/feb/16/moonlight-review-masculinity-naomie-harris.
  7. Brathwaite, Les Fabian. 2017. A Moonlight Revolution: The Black Queer Experience Comes of Age in America. Out, January 31. Accessed May 28, 2017. http://www.out.com/out-exclusives/2017/1/31/moonlight-revolution-black-queer-experience-comes-age-america.
  8. Brody, Richard. 2016. The Unbearable Intimacy of Moonlight. New Yorker, October 28. Accessed May 28, 2017. http://www.newyorker.com/culture/richard-brody/the-unbearable-intimacy-of-moonlight.
  9. Brown, Effie. 2001. Stranger Inside. DVD. Directed by Cheryl Dunye. New York: HBO Films.Google Scholar
  10. Crawley, Ashon. 2017. To Be Held by Moonlight. The Root, Febraury 27. Accessed May 28, 2017. http://www.theroot.com/to-be-held-by-moonlight-1792774994.
  11. Davis, Angela Y. 1998. Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude ‘Ma’ Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holliday. New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
  12. Davis, Francis. 2003. The History of the Blues: The Roots, The Music, The People, New York: Da Capo Press, 2003.Google Scholar
  13. Derrida, Jacques. 1987. The Post-Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond, trans. Alan Bass. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  14. Dest, Stephen. 2017. I Am Shakespeare: The Henry Green Story. DVD. Directed by Stephen Dest. Los Angeles: Indie Rights.Google Scholar
  15. Floyd, Samuel A. Jr. 1996. The Power of Black Music: Interpreting Its History From Africa to the United States. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Gardener, Dede. 2016. Moonlight. DVD. Directed by Barry Jenkins. New York: A24.Google Scholar
  17. Gibson, David. 2009. The Wayfinding Handbook: Information Design for Public Places. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Architectural Press.Google Scholar
  18. Gilber, Sophie. 2016. And, Scene: Moonlight. The Atlantic, December 26. Accessed May 28, 2017. https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/12/the-power-of-water-in-moonlight/511547/.
  19. Hall, Stephen. 2017. Man-Child Under the Moonlight: Black Masculinity in the Promised Land. Black Perspectives, Febraury 28. Accessed May 28, 2017. http://www.aaihs.org/man-child-under-the-moonlight-black-masculinity-in-the-promised-land/.
  20. Hartman, Saidiya. 2007. Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.Google Scholar
  21. Hassoun, Jacques. 1997. The Cruelty of Depression, trans. David Jacobson. Reading, MA: Addison Wesley.Google Scholar
  22. Henry-Smith, Sean D. 2016. Body Text. Baton Rouge, LA: New Delta Review.Google Scholar
  23. Hornaday, Ann. 2016. Moonlight is Both a Tough Coming-of-Age Tale and a Tender Testament to Love. Washington Post, October 27. Accessed May 28, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/goingoutguide/movies/moonlight-is-both-a-tough-coming-of-age-tale-and-a-tender-testament-to-love/2016/10/27/45d88eea-9b80-11e6-9980-50913d68eacb_story.html.
  24. Jones, Leroi. 1999. Blues People: Negro Music in White America. New York: HarperCollins.Google Scholar
  25. Keeling, Kara. 2009. Looking for M-: Queer Temporality, Black Political Possibility, and Poetry From the Future. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 15: 565–582.Google Scholar
  26. Kermode, Mark. 2017. A Five-Star Symphony of Love. Guardian, Febraury 19. Accessed May 28, 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/feb/19/moonlight-review-five-star.
  27. Kitchin, Rob, and Scott Freundschuh (eds.). 2000. Cognitive Mapping: Past, Present, and Future. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. Lacan, Jacques. 1991. Seminar I: Freud’s Papers on Technique, 1953–1954, trans. John Forrester. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
  29. Lamberton, Robert. 1988. Hesiod. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Lang, Nico. 2017. Moonlight is the First LGBT Movie to Win Best Picture. Here’s Why It Matters. Salon, Febraury 28. Accessed May 28, 2017. http://www.salon.com/2017/02/28/moonlight-is-the-first-lgbt-movie-to-win-best-picture-heres-why-it-matters/.
  31. Lee, Benjamin. 2016. “‘It’s Impossible to Be Vulnerable’: How Moonlight Reflects Being a Black Gay Man in the US.” Guardian, September 15. Accessed May 28, 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/sep/15/itsimpossible-to-be-vulnerable-how-moonlight-reflects-being-a-black-gay-man-in-the-us.
  32. Lee, Benjamin. 2016a. Devastating Drama is Vital Portrait of Black Gay Masculinity in America. Guardian, September 3. Accessed May 28, 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/sep/03/moonlight-review-devastating-drama-is-vital-portrait-of-black-gay-masculinity-in-america.
  33. Lee, Benjamin. 2016b. Moonlight’s Tarell Alvin McCraney: ‘I Never Had a Coming Out Moment’. Guardian, October 21. Accessed May 28, 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/oct/21/moonlight-film-tarell-alvin-mccraney-interview.
  34. Marriott, David. 2011. Inventions of Existence: Sylvia Wynter, Frantz Fanon, Sociogeny and ‘the Damned’. CR: The New Centennial Review 11: 45–89.Google Scholar
  35. Mujica, Barbara. 2009. Teresa of Ávíla: Lettered Woman. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Orr, Deborah. It’s Painful Watching the Male Crisis Onscreen—More Painful in Real Life. Guardian, Feb 18. Accessed May 28, 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/18/film-therapy-masculinity-manchester-by-the-sea-moonlight.
  37. Phillips, Tony. 2006. Strange Moonlight. Science @ NASA, September 28. Accessed May 28, 2017. https://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2006/28sep_strangemoonlight.
  38. Raggio, Olga. 1958. The Myth of Prometheus: Its Survival and Metamorphosis up to the Eighteenth Century. Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 21: 44–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Richardson, Matt. 2003. No More Secrets, No More Lies: African American History and Compulsory Heterosexuality. Journal of Women’s History 15: 63–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Scott, A.O. 2016. Moonlight: Is This The Year’s Best Movie? New York Times, October 20. Accessed May 28, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/21/movies/moonlight-review.html.
  41. Shapiro, Ari. 2017. Moonlight Composer Describes Process. National Public Radio, Febraury 20. Accessed May 28, 2017. http://www.npr.org/2017/02/20/516292253/song-exploder-moonlight-composer-describes-process.
  42. Smith, Valerie. 1992. The Documentary Impulse in Contemporary African American Film. In Black Popular Culture: A Project by Michelle Wallace, ed. Gina Dent, 56–64. New York: Dia Center for the Arts.Google Scholar
  43. St. John, Maria, and Cheryl Dunye. 2004. Making Home/Making Stranger: An Interview with Cheryl Dunye. Feminist Studies 30: 325–338.Google Scholar
  44. Summer, Robert. 2007. Choral Masterworks from Bach to Britten: Reflections of a Conductor. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.Google Scholar
  45. Tate, Greg. 2016. How Barry Jenkins Turned the Misery and Beauty of the Queer Black Experience Into the Year’s Best Movie. Village Voice, December 21. Accessed May 28, 2017. http://www.villagevoice.com/film/how-barry-jenkins-turned-the-misery-and-beauty-of-the-queer-black-experience-into-the-years-best-movie-9478791.
  46. Vesey, Alyx. 2011. Bechdel Test Canon: Watermelon Woman. Bitch Media, December 12. Accessed May 28, 2017. https://www.bitchmedia.org/post/bechdel-test-canon-the-watermelon-woman-feminist-film-review.
  47. Waldrop, Rosemarie. 2010. Driven to Abstraction. New York: New Directions Publishing.Google Scholar
  48. White, Armond. 2016. Moonlight: A Plea for Pity for a Black, Gay Statistic. National Review, October 22. Accessed May 28, 2017. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/441280/moonlight-barry-jenkins-intersectionality-black-gay-character.
  49. Wigley, Mark. 1995. The Architecture of Deconstruction: Derrida’s Haunt. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  50. Winokur, Mark. 2001. Body and Soul: Identifying (with) the Black Lesbian Body in Cheryl Dunye’s Watermelon Woman. In Recovering the Black Female Body: Self-Representations by African American Women, ed. Michael Bennett and Vanessa D. Dickerson, 231–252. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of African American StudiesUniversity of California, IrvineIrvineUSA

Personalised recommendations