Brow Beat

Somehow People Are Finding a White Savior in Moonlight’s Win

La La Land producers Marc Platt, Jordan Horowitz, and Fred Berger accept their awards for Best Picture after initially believing they had won.

Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

By now, you’re probably aware that several people screwed up the presentation of Best Picture in the final moments of Sunday night’s Academy Awards, and La La Land was mistakenly announced as the victor. About midway through the rotation of speeches, producer Jordan Horowitz hopped on the mic to correct the mistake and reveal that the award was really for Moonlight. No, this wasn’t a symbolic gesture in the vein of Grammy winners Adele and Macklemore—Moonlight had in fact won.

“I’m gonna be really proud to hand this to my friends from Moonlight,” Horowitz said at one point, amongst the confusion and hubbub of it all.

And thus, a hero was born.

Oh, come now. It seems as though the Oscars came about this close to going the entire evening without having a white male savior as a part of its historic narrative. But then, just like the delightful Hidden Figures, which couldn’t help but sneak in a moment for Kevin Costner’s character to smash white supremacy with a sledgehammer in a story that otherwise centered on black women’s experience, in comes Horowitz, pummeling all the liars and sore losers and hotheads for us all. Or something.

This near-deification of Horowitz definitely isn’t his fault. He was caught up in a whirlwind moment and was incredibly calm and reasonable throughout; he took it all in great stride. But let’s not give him all the “hero” biscuits for doing something we’re taught to do in grade school, which is to accept defeat graciously. Is our bar for human decency really so low that we have to turn a much-deserved win for Moonlight into a story all about a white guy not giving in to his basest instincts? (Even that Washington Post piece seems aware of just how ridiculous this all is—“This kind of behavior shouldn’t be all that exceptional, but truth has been hard to come by lately. We’ve just come off an election in which politicians have happily danced around facts … ”—while choosing to revel in the glorification anyway.)

It’s telling that no one has bestowed “Man of the Year” status upon Moonlight director Barry Jenkins, who hurled some grace right back at Horowitz:

Jenkins gave him exactly what he deserved: respect, not veneration.

Read more in Slate about this year’s Oscars.