“Tenderness in Moonlight”: I’m at First Things

reviewing a movie, and also contemporary American Christian masculinity:

Years ago I was reading testimonies from people who had experienced abusive corporal punishment. One man reached adulthood before he was able to give the right name to something for which he was frequently beaten. His parents had called it a lot of things, but the true name of his crime was “tenderness.”

Moonlight, written and directed by Barry Jenkins from a story by playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, tells the story of Chiron (shy-RONE), a gay kid coming of age in the toughest parts of late-’90s Miami. It’s impressionistic and image-rich, with swirling camera and lush color. And although some critics have wondered where the plot is—where is all this going?—at the film’s end we learn that this has been a story about men’s need to be tender.

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