Moonlight conjures blaqueer magic
by Arzu Karaduman — www.gsu.edu
April 04, 2017 – 22:43
Blue has marked critical points in Queer Cinema: the IKB blue of Blue (1993) by Derek Jarman, the godfather of queer cinema; Emma’s beautiful blue eyes and hair in Kechiche’s Blue Is the Warmest Colour (2013), and Moonlight (Jenkins, 2016) adapted from McCraney’s play "In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue". The thread of blue weaving such critical queer films together compels one to repeat after Akira Lippit the question if blue is always queer. Jarman’s call "Oh, Blue, come forth!" is the title of one of the chapters in Daren Fowler’s thesis on the film where he dives deep down into this transversal color of the transmedial work by Jarman; blue queers media, bodies, and languages.
Moonlight is washed by the liquidity of the color blue from its beginning to the end; even before the opening shot of Juan driving his blue car, we hear the blue waters and waves. Liquidity associated with the color blue resonates with the vibrational transitions that give water its color, blue. In Moonlight, Juan’s story of his encounter with the old lady who said "In moonlight black boys look blue" and the moral of the story he gives after Little asks if his name is blue open up questions of color and vision, search for identity and recognition, even sexuality and queerness in the frame of the film’s aesthetic interests in liquidity (sounds of the waves) and blueness (the specific tinge the human eye tends to see in moonlight).
Reading that the tinge of blue appears when human eyes become maximally dark adapted in published scientific research, I think of queerness and fluidity, transformation and becoming, even conjuring and magic. In "Conjuring Blaqueer Magic", a keynote discussion with Tarell McCraney and Jafari S. Allen hosted by Morehouse College Safe Space, Allen emphasized the necessity of a community and connection with others to defend the dead and fight to prevent further harm to survive. Moonlight conjures blaqueer magic as Little learns to swim in Juan’s arms right before he listens to Juan’s story; the first real bond Little has with a father figure like Juan in the blue waters opens up a space for recognition and acceptance of his sexuality through its association of blackness with the queering color blue. Submerging us in water with Little and Juan through its camerawork, Moonlight connects us all to conjure blaqueer magic. And we all say: Oh, Blue, come forth!