Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Weekly Rant: The Blind Side


Because most sports movies are mediocre, and because most movies starring Sandra Bullock are worse than that and because I have read the book upon which it is based, I had no intention of seeing The Blind Side. That’s why I spent my lunch hour last Friday clicking through Metacritic to read about it: I wasn’t worried that my own experience with the film would be colored by my prior exposure to these reviews, because this wasn’t a film I was planning to experience. But the more reviews I read, most of them negative, the more interested I became. At a time when Precious, a sensationalistic story about a black woman who is used as a dramatic punching bag, is being widely celebrated as worthwhile art, The Blind Side, the true story of a black man who rose from homelessness to a career in the NFL with a lot of help from a white family, has been derided by some as condescending toward black people. That I had to see to understand.

And so I saw The Blind Side, only to leave the theater as confused as when I went in. Is the film offensive? Yes. If Precious takes itself too seriously, The Blind Side doesn’t take itself seriously enough. This is a film with a high school football coach who doesn’t use the headset hanging around his neck but does take a cellphone call on the sideline during a game. It’s a film in which a teenage Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron), now a starting tackle for the Baltimore Ravens, gets whipped into shape by an elementary school kid. It’s a film in which Bullock’s saintly yet spicy Leigh Anne Tuohy confronts a threatening gang leader by threatening him right back – in his neighborhood, on his porch, in front of his homeboys. More often than not, The Blind Side adopts an air of preposterousness that suggests it’s more comfortable emulating a made-for-Lifetime melodrama than approximating reality. For me, at least, that’s offensive. As for the film’s supposed condescending treatment of its black main character, that’s where things get tricky.

In The Village Voice, Melissa Anderson suggests that The Blind Side “peddles the most insidious kind of racism, one in which whiteys are virtuous saviors, coming to the rescue of African-Americans who become superfluous in narratives that are supposed to be about them.” Scott Tobias of the AV Club argues that The Blind Side “finds a new low” in the sports genre’s “long, troubled history of well-meaning white paternalism, with poor black athletes finding success through white charity.” Both critics support these arguments by citing scenes in which white people must act upon Oher in order for him to act for himself. They also note how the film treats Oher, in Tobias’ words, as a “gentle, oversized puppy in need of adoption.” Frequently their arguments are compelling. Tobias notes that the Tuohy family “literally picks (Oher) up from the streets during a rainstorm, like a stray,” quipping: “All that’s missing are the children pleading, ‘Mom, can we keep him?’” One only needs to read such descriptions to see how neatly The Blind Side rests within the shamefully deep mold created by all the tactless “whiteys”-as-“virtuous saviors” films that have come before it. But I’m not sure that means that The Blind Side is automatically as tactless or shameless as its predecessors.

The thing that struck me about John Lee Hancock’s film is how faithful it is, a few indulgences aside, to Michael Lewis’ nonfiction book. Does that mean the film is capital-T True? Of course not. As I suggested, the film has a wink-wink demeanor about it that manages to undercut even the things that are factually accurate. Nevertheless, if Lewis’ account of the story can be trusted at all, many of the elements that might seem especially condescending toward black people are in fact based on truth. Indeed, Michael Oher was taken in by a rich white family. He did attend an almost all-white school. He was given special treatment by some of his white teachers to help him along. He did have a white tutor who guided him through high school and even college. He was inward and slow to reveal his feelings and history. He had been homeless. He did lose a father he barely knew to a sad death. He did have siblings he hadn’t seen in years, if ever. He didn’t take to football immediately and really was coached to equate offensive line play with the protection of one’s family. Perhaps most important of all, the black Oher really did form a bond with the white Tuohys, and they became a genuine family in the process – not just during high school, not just for the span of the film, but then and now. Any way you slice it, Oher was in fact “rescued,” in almost every sense of the word, by white people who, through their acts, were both “virtuous” and “saviors.”

None of this is to suggest that the film doesn’t take liberties in the specific depictions of these broader truths. Nor is it to suggest that The Blind Side gives us the “whole truth,” whatever that is. Furthermore, I don’t mean to imply that this is a good film. (When the professional actor playing the high school coach delivers a performance more forced than that of the career college football coaches who make cameos in this film, you’ve got problems.) Yes, it’s true that we leave The Blind Side better understanding Leigh Anne Tuohy than Michael Oher. But explain to me why this isn’t her story as much as his? Seems to me that without a Leigh Anne Tuohy we'd never have heard of Michael Oher. Sure, it would be condescending to depict Oher as the family pet being taught to sit, stay and play football. But I’m not convinced the film portrays him that way. I’d suggest the film portrays Oher as a young man in need of a mother and a lot of guidance, which by virtue of the formula means that Oher is placed in the role of a child. Is that offensive? If untrue, I suppose. But here’s the thing: What if it's accurate? Has our political correctness gotten so out of hand that stories about whites saving blacks are now taboo? That doesn’t sound like progress.

More than a decade ago, then living in Oregon, I eagerly followed the development of another sports-related film: Robert Towne’s Without Limits, which proved to be the better of the two Steve Prefontaine biopics released almost simultaneously. One thing I remember from the prerelease buzz is that Without Limits, which dedicates quite a bit of time to Prefontaine’s efforts to medal at the 1972 Olympics, didn’t score well with test audiences. Their complaint? Prefontaine didn’t redeem himself by winning gold at the 1976 Olympics. Why? Because he died in 1975. In that instance the real story – one of promise unfulfilled – wasn’t the story that (many) audiences wanted, but it was the story of what really happened. I have a feeling that something similar is happening here. In this era of heightened sensitivity to political correctness (which is a good thing for the most part, don’t get me wrong), The Blind Side is indeed hampered by Hancock’s sometimes overly simplistic approach to his subject matter. Just as often, though, what hurts The Blind Side isn't the depiction of its subject matter but the realities of it.

32 comments:

Steven Santos said...

"Has our political correctness gotten so out of hand that stories about whites saving blacks are now taboo?"

It's not taboo as much as it is a tired and somewhat condescending Hollywood cliche, whether based on reality or not. My reaction to the trailer was along the lines of "This again in this day and age?" I had a similar reaction to the "Invictus" trailer which seems to suggest the white rugby player deserves as much credit as Nelson Mandela for uniting South Africa. Would "The Blind Side" have been considered "inspirational" if Oher was white, but equally troubled?

I like my movie characters to be complex and flawed, but non-white characters are often pushed to extremes of exotic villainy and saintliness and are treated more as symbols than human beings. Filmmakers have gotten better at allowing blacks, latinos, asians, etc. to be defined less by the color of their skin, but by the nuance of their individual personalities, but the problem still pops up.

Also, the argument that there isn't much of a story if the focus was shifted to Oher I can't really buy. Earlier this year, the little-seen "Sugar" covers slightly similar territory with its main Dominican character staying with a white family in Iowa. That movie doesn't feel the need to make the white family the main character stays with more than just peripheral characters. The story asks you to relate to this minor league player from another country as opposed to observing him from afar as an artifact.

Jason Bellamy said...

Steven: Great thoughts. I probably should have refined the rant above a bit more before posting, so I'm happy to try to do so here.

* "This again in this day and age?" I see that, too. I also think there's reason to be skeptical that the film would be made if Oher were white. But, if made, would it still be inspirational? I don't see why not. Because then it's essentially Rocky or Hoosiers or whatever.

Would the film be made though? Probably not. (But that really has nothing to do with what this film is.) The fact that Oher and the Touhys are from such completely different worlds is part of what makes their union so striking, even if it's a tired cliche. And that brings me here ...

* All I'm attempting to argue here is that we've kind of lost our way when a story like Oher's happens and we respond (on some level or another), "Gosh, that would be a great story if the Touhys were black, but since they aren't we can't touch it." I'm certainly not trying to argue that The Blind Side is fresh territory, because it isn't.

* Good point about Sugar, but there's a key difference: Sugar comes to America to play baseball regardless of which white family he stays with or what team he plays with. He does this essentially on his own. Michael Oher doesn't go to college without the Touhys guiding him there -- which happened in a series of events, not a single gesture.

I don't mean to imply that this story couldn't be told strictly from Oher's perspective. Of course it could have been. But without the Touhys this story doesn't start, nor does it continue. They are not peripheral to what happens here. Yes, Oher is acted upon by whites in this film. But, if Lewis' book can be trusted, Oher was acted upon by whites in real life. That's his story.

So, what I'm reacting to is the sense that telling this story from the Touhy perspective is forbidden because of the so many films before it that indeed treat non-white characters as symbols more than human beings. Leigh Anne Touhy is probably the most interesting and active character in Michael Lewis' book, so it just seems backward to suggest the film was obligated to come at this subject matter from a different angle (even though I can think of reasons why that would have been a good idea). To spin it: If Oher were white and the Touhys were black and the film shifted away from the book's significant focus on the Touhys to make this a story of a white kid willing himself to succeed all on his own, we'd be rightly offended.

This is all slippery stuff and I'm on very shaky ground here because many of the criticisms of The Blind Side are right on the money. I'm not blind to that. Indeed, the film treats some of its black characters with "exotic villainy" while Oher is painted close to "saintliness." I wouldn't argue that The Blind Side is the film that 'gets it right.' But is what it is so wrong? I'm not so sure that's true or fair.

Troy Olson said...

Absolutely fascinating take on a film I never intended on seeing (although with Lou Holtz in it, I figured it might be worth a chuckle) or expected to be written about amongst the blogs I read. So it's great to get your fantastic perspective on it.

I remember seeing the Oher story on draft day and actually being moved by it. You could tell from both Oher and the Touhy's that the color differences, though obviously real, had no bearing on the love and support that made them all a family. Being in the process of adopting a child from China, that kind of story hit home to me. Sometimes it's NOT about race and it is about people simply coming together. Okay, enough Kumbaya...

Here's the catch, though. If I ever see this kind of story, true or not, in a scripted movie, I roll my eyes and make fun of it as it takes on an aire of exploitation at that point. As Steven points out, this whole genre is just a giant cliche. The stock plot points, flat characters, and watered-down stories that these types of movies always hit (You've seen one of these, you've seen them all), are just programmed to make us cry or feel better about ourselves, instead of making us truly care and learn about the people being presented to us.

Daniel Getahun said...

My reactions align with Steven on this one, but you bring up some really good points, Jason. I have not read the book and am not playing on seeing the film.

I suppose one solution that I would propose is that a story like this be told in documentary form. Now, the general public does not have nearly as high a tolerance for documentaries as I do, so of course that's not going to happen. But when there is an engaging true story such as this, where all of the real life characters are alive and probably willing to be interviewed, and where many of the sources and locations can be easily visited, well I just think a documentary would prevent it from "not taking itself seriously enough" and help it avoid all of the cliches that we've mentioned. What do you think, Jason, considering your viewings of the 30 for 30 series?

Hokahey said...

This is very well done! Knowing that you'd write about this one, I read some of the articles criticizing it. I had overheard some audience members (white) raving about it, so I was interested in your take on it. You are fair with the movie. It seems that this kind of story - however true it might be - is just a really tricky story to be telling. It might be an impossible one to tell without eliciting criticism.

Jason Bellamy said...

Thanks for the continued comments, fellas. A few replies ...

Troy: The "reality" of The Blind Side certainly doesn't keep it from feeling cliche. Some of that is the fact that, well, the truth is kind of a cliche in this case. But, as you can tell just by watching the preview, some of that is on the movie itself. No question about it.

Daniel: I love documentaries and The Blind Side would be a tremendous documentary, especially because it could get into the half of Michael Lewis' book that it doesn't have time for -- the examination of the evolution of the left tackle position. The movie hints at this, and does a pretty good job of making that allusion fit, actually. But there just isn't enough time. It was that left tackle evolution analysis that I was looking for in the first place with Lewis' book, having been fascinated by Moneyball. But this Oher story comes along and charms.

All of this brings me back to something I've poked at here and there but perhaps haven't really said clearly enough yet: There are lots of reasons to bemoan the fact that this film (and not others) got made. But since it was made, I don't think that should be held against the film -- especially when it isn't spun from thin air and passed off as truth like Precious. To some degree The Blind Side can help but be an eye-rollig cliche.

BUT ...

There is much to criticize. In one of the most painful moments in the film, the clueless high school head coach gets a 15-yard penalty for sticking up for Oher. Essentially he gets a technical foul. Maybe this happens at the high school level, but I've never seen it in college or the pros, even when coaches deserved it. It's a pathetic little scene designed to make sure that we know that even the coach cares for Michael. It's eye-rolling. Over-the-top. The amazing thing is that some of the movie's eye-rolling and over-the-top elements actually happened.

Sam Juliano said...

And of course the most emotional flourishes are formulaic, and the film has that 'trashy multiplex ambiance' throughout. What is this film really trying to say? I like the reference point there to PRECIOUS and the coincidental release of these two film within a week or two of one another. I must agree with Mr. Santos that these stories, this one included are "tired and condescending Hollywood cliche" and his subsequent argument that non-white characters are treated as symbols.

I was ready to dive in with SUGAR, another film I didn't care much for (but I know my friend Dan likes it a lot) but getting here this late I knew I would be redundant. Ha! And wow, Melissa Anderson really went for the jugular there. Can't say I blame her so much.

Touche, Jason on that dazzling final sentence and superb review, informed as it is by the added advantage of actually having read the book! And what a discussion here! Wow.

And yes, Bullock was better than she's ever been, if that is saying something.

Jason Bellamy said...

Sam: ...the film has that 'trashy multiplex ambiance' throughout... Exactly. That's what offends me more than anything ... not that it's yet another cliche story (because, as you mentioned, I had the benefit of knowing that most of the cliche is true) but that it's just so, well, cheesy.

As for Bullock: Off the top of my head, I think her best performance might be in Crash, but I think that reveals the way I'm turned off by the characters she plays more so than I'm turned off by her acting. Similarly here, Bullock's best scenes are perfectly satisfactory and the ones where she gets into trouble are the scenes where the screenplay cornered her there ("You threaten my son, you threaten me," for example).

Thanks for weighing in.

Adam Zanzie said...
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Kevin J. Olson said...

I think the most offensive thing I've heard about this film is that they suggest Oher didn't really know all that much about football until he was adopted by this family...only then did he really see how to play football. Chris Collinsworth and Al Michaels were ripping on the filmmakers (in a subtle way) during tonight's game (former Duck Dennis Dixon came oh-so-close to pulling out a huge win for his team), talking about the "artistic" licensing they took with the film, and how Oher actually had been a pretty good -- albeit raw -- talent starting in 8th grade.

That kind of artistic licensing that those two claimed took place is exactly why sports movies have become so unbearable. Look, when a film like The Rookie or Miracle come out does Disney alter some minor, character driven things? Sure, but it's for the effect you come to expect with a feel good sports movie; however, what they don't alter is the way the factual events (read: the sports stuff, not the family/relational stuff) happened. That's what always bugged me about the ending to Rudy...they gave him the happy ending (the tackle) that he actually didn't get (although I think I remember reading that they did carry him off the field).

Anyway...I like sports movies. So what if they're cliches...sports in general is one giant cliche because things become cliches because a certain series of events occurs multiple times. We root for the people who claw their way through life and accomplish their dreams....in the movies, though, I think we roll our eyes because we know the filmmakers are doing everything possible in these types of movies to make us feel sorry or happy or sad or whatever for the person...instead of letting the events just unfold like they do in real life. That's the real drama.

Sorry...I went off on my own little rant there. Anyway...good stuff here, Jason.

Jason Bellamy said...

Kevin: Thanks for weighing in. Though I agree with you that sports movies are almost always cliche and that The Blind Side oversimplifies Oher's football story, criticisms from game-day TV personalities make for a pot-and-kettle situation.

I don't watch as much NFL coverage as I used to (I did see a bit of last night's Dixon-led effort), but Michaels and Collinsworth are two of the best. Still, I would promise you that at least 85 percent of what they know about Michael Oher's background comes, one way or another, from Michael Lewis' book (and that's being generous). And here's the thing: the film is, believe it or not, a fairly accurate recreation of the book in terms of Oher's football development (minus Mrs. Touhy walking out on the field and breaking it down during the middle of practice, of course).

Michaels and Collinsworth think it's funny that the film overlooks his extensive 8th grade background? Ha. When you're an 8th grader, you're always the oldest and biggest kids on the field. So if you're an 8th-grade Oher you're a monster. One would figure, though, that moving up to high school and becoming a freshman going against experienced (and developed) seniors that Oher might not have been able to rely on basic athletic ability.

Anyway, knowing that it's probable that Michaels and Collinsworth have never sat down with Oher (TV talent usually gets access to about two players per team the day before a game), what they seem to have been doing is repeating the so common error of the TV guy: repeating what someone else told them, or what they read, or what fits the "script" of that night's game. So I'll take Lewis' account over theirs. That doesn't mean the film isn't a sad oversimplification, though. It is. But Michaels and Collinsworth should find that pretty familiar. And there's my little rant.

Jason Bellamy said...

No, wait, rant not done:

Note to all gameday broadcasters: If you want to keep your credibility intact, at least do the following: Wait to describe what happened on the previous play until you've seen the replay.

It's mind-boggling to me how many sports commentators will tell you what happened only to have the replay clearly refute their description, and yet the majority of the time they don't say, "Whoa, I was wrong about that..." they just stick to their original explanation as if talking about it more can change the video evidence right in front of us.

This has nothing to do with The Blind Side, but I had to get that out there.

While I'm handing out free advice, here's another ...

The next time a studly youngster in any sport goes to a team with an aging veteran, quit saying that the youngster will benefit from the mentorship of the veteran. This is said all the time as if it's always true, when in fact it's probably almost never true. Sure, sometimes it's the athletes falling back on this cliche. ("I hope to sit back and learn...") But given that every professional athlete lives in the constant fear of being replaced, the Luke-and-Obi Wan relationships are very few, in my experience.

OK, sports rant done for the day.

Mark said...

I'm just catching up on this review and discussion, and as usual both the criticism and the comment conversation are fascinating. So thank you to all.

Jason, you've practically persuaded me to go see this movie, though I would have bet my entire poker bankroll on a proposition that I'd never see a scene, even on free cable TV someday. I agree with all the comments about cliches in sports movies being a turnoff -- I don't like sports movies in general, not even Bull Durham -- and I don't like feel-good movies in any genre. Plus this has Sandra Bullock. For all of it to add up to a good film seems as far-fetched to me as the Harlem Globetrotters losing to Atlantic City Seagulls.

Still, I like nothing if not a good argument, and it looks like this is turning into one.

If the Blind Side people are looking for a blurb, they could do worse than your excellent intro, Jason: "The more reviews I read, most of them negative, the more interested I became."

Kyle said...

I actually agree with most of what you wrote, Jason. And, when reading over the comments, I saw someone mentioned the movie "Sugar" as a comparison. It's interesting because I keep a blog (which no one reads, but would love readers and people to comment), where I brought up "Sugar" as an example in a overarching debate I am trying to stimulate. When it comes to projecting black characters on film, I found there is a sympathy vs. empathy argument that needs to be had.

I know its just another blog, but the site is sportsinthemovies.blogspot.com. Let me know what you all think.

Dee Dee said...

I'm black and it's sad that we have to tear apart a movie that just shows some good in people. I don't care about all of your ranting about political correctness, a coach talking on a cell phone, Sandra Bullock not wearing a bra and all that other nonsense, it was good to just see a movie about some good. There is so much bad going on in this world today and we see and hear it all the time, be it the news or the movies or the newspapers. Just go to the show and enjoy a movie about good. If you really want to see the Blind Side, then be Blind Sided and remove the color. See the movie in one color and enjoy.

Dee Dee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason Bellamy said...

Dee Dee: Very good thoughts! Thanks for commenting and adding to the discussion. I'm glad to see your points raised.

Jake said...

I don't want to pooh-pooh Dee-Dee's argument, but my problem with the film is that they took a genuinely feel-good true story and changed it around just to make it even more sweet. Granted, had they filmed The Blind Side from Oher's POV, there's every possibility it would have been ghetto porn, but by reframing the entire story around a sassy white woman it becomes a bland comedy where it might have been a revealing, Spielbergian (a loaded descriptor) examination of man's capacity for good.

I mean, I'd certainly rather see this again than the almost unanimously lauded but garish and offensive Precious any day of the week, but I'm also a Sandra Bullock fanboy.

Jason Bellamy said...

Jake: Good point. But I'm not so sure that the source material for the movie tells the story from Oher's perspective any more than the movie does.

Of course, the movie wasn't bound to the book. But one of the things I find interesting about the backlash against the movie is the repeated implication that they took The Michael Oher Story and made it The Leigh Anne Touhy Story, when in fact what the film did was fairly faithfully retell the story from Michael Lewis' book. So in a sense part of what people are complaining about is the book, which is particularly interesting because reviews of Precious and The Road (also in theaters right now) tend to regard the books upon which they are based as sacred material which the movies must strive to replicate.

I'm not saying I agree with all this stuff. (Movies are movies and should be judged for exactly what they are.) I just think it's interesting.

Jake said...

I should have clarified that I meant the source of the story itself, not necessarily the book, which I haven't read (and likely won't because, frankly, feel-good lit makes saccharine films look like Kubrick's masterpieces).

I think that faithfulness to a book is relative, and only more so when it's nonfiction. I haven't seen The Road yet, but I think it should run fairly close to the book because the novel was so visceral and immediate that I don't see the need to cut for anything but time. But for something like LOTR, while the omissions stuck in my craw as a younger lad I can now appreciate the changes that were made (except for the ruining of Faramir in the Two Towers that took up a whole third of the film).

Jason Bellamy said...

Jake: I see where you're coming from. Also, I should be sure to note that Michael Lewis' book isnt' gag-me-with-a-spoon sentimental or saccharine. Actually, it's fascinating because there's a lot there about the evolution of the left tackle position (the stuff that's covered in the first 3 minutes of the film) that sets the stage for this Oher story to happen. That being said, the book is largely about the system that Oher falls into, which is part of the reason why the book doesn't tell the story from Oher's perspective. Because it only happens to be about him, if you follow me. Within that design, Touhy pops out as the most colorful character, though it's not really her story either.

Anyway, I'd recommend the book. I wouldn't recommend the movie. For as much as they are the same in terms of what happens, in tone they are far, far different.

reggie said...

WOW WOW your blog is so attractive and fantastic. Anyways The Blind Side is my favorite movie. I loved this movie. It is very interesting nas superb movie. Really it has very nice true story of the famous Michael Oher. I think everyone is crazy to watch The Blind Side Movie seriously, it is full of entertainment.

Tamsyn said...

"This again in this day and age?" I had a similar reaction to the "Invictus" trailer which seems to suggest the white rugby player deserves as much credit as Nelson Mandela for uniting South Africa.

Steven - I am from South Africa, and yes, although I am white, I was here during the '95 world cup, when Mandela and the Springboks united the country. I took slight personal offense to your comment, which seems to suggest you watched the trailer but did not deighn to watch the movie, as it does not deal with your USA. Having lived though the Apartheid era, and being able to remember this time in our Nation's history, i can accurately say that yes, the Bok's win most certainly did play a huge part in the uniting of the Nation. As much as Mandela? Possibly even more so. You couldn't understand the mind set of many white South African's, so set against a black president that we were on the brink of civil war (look it up in some decent literature). To see the Springbok's, the white Afrikaner's heroes, loving and respecting a black president was a huge influence. It was this that made many white SA's think, "Wait a sec, this guy can'tbe all bad. Francois Pienaar thinks he's a good guy.". Perhaps it is not quite so simple, but I remember from personal memories seeing the streets flood with people of ALL colours, forgetting for that moment their histories and backgrounds, and embracing each other in celebration! It was euphoric, and I think the film captured that and showed the audience that it was as much of a publicity stint that worked wonders as it was th uniting of a nation.

Just a little food for thought. I'm afraid I may not haev paid much attention to paragraphs here due to my heated thoughts, coming as quickly as I could type.

Cheers,

T

Anonymous said...

This a section of a review that I read. I can't say it better. And by the way, I'm independent.

Fringe white liberals, like these reviewers, hate every thing about this film and about the true story of Michael Oher because it offends their political sensibilities as it flies in the face of everything they stand for.

First of all, it portrays a rich, white, conservative, Republican family (which, in the looney white liberal mind, is the epitome of evil) as kind, tolerant, and charitable. But how can this be? Liberal Democrats have spent the past few decades attempting to rewrite history in order to portray such people as vile racists, who would prefer that a black teen like Oher starve in poverty and die from a lack of healthcare.

These political liberals seem to have forgotten that while the Democratic party wanted to keep slavery alive, it was a Republican President who issued the Emancipation Proclamation. They seem to forget that it was Democrats, not Republicans, who created the Jim Crow laws. They also seem to forget that, while Republicans were passing the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965, Democrats were attempting to filibuster the legislation. While we’re at it, let’s also forget that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican himself.

This makes it easier to be outraged that a Republican family would dare adopt a black teen.

“How dare they not be a bunch of racist rednecks!” the so-called-liberal mind exclaims angrily. Oh, and while we’re at it, “How dare Michael get a good education from a private, Christian school!”

Janet said...

(This is for my sociology class)
The Blind Side. Great movie! I absolutely loved this movie and went out and bought it the day it came out. This movie did a great job in portraying the real events that took place between Michael Oher and Leigh Anne Tuohy. Sandra Bullock did an amazing job in this movie and she deserves her Oscar. All of the actors in this movie were amazing which made this movie so good.
Leigh Anne Tuohy starts this movie, talking about football and one miracle play. She talks about the players and their positions and that the quarterback as a “blind side” that the running back is supposed to protect. It then goes to show Michael Oher walking down the street of a really run-down neighborhood. Soon after this, the man that Michael is staying with tries to get them into the “upscale” school. The problem is Michael doesn’t have any records; he doesn’t know who his dad is and his mom is a crack-head; he has a very low GPA; and barely any school experience and skills for education. Then the Head of the Athletic Department sees Michael (Big Mike) playing basketball and he gets him into the school. He knows that Big Mike is something special.
Soon enough, the Tuohy’s take Big Mike in and his life is changed forever. He gets new clothes, which he’s never had; a bed, which he’s never had; and a room to himself; again, which he never had. Big Mike, who now likes to be called Michael by everyone, shows an interest in football. They sign him up and he is too protective and not understanding what he is supposed to do in his position. He was in the highest profile in protective instincts and when Mrs. Tuohy tells him that he needs to protect his quarterback’s blind side, he understands what he needs to do now. The only problem is Michael doesn’t have the grades to be able to actually play in a game for his school. The Tuohy’s hire a private tutor to help Michael in school and his grades improve enough for him to be eligible to play.
At first, Michael is a little off in his position, but soon enough he is the best player on the team and eventually gets picked in the first round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2009 in the NFL draft.
This is a story of a poor and very under-educated teenage who is groomed into a very athletic and academic man. He went from living on the streets to being an All-American offensive left tackle in the NFL on the Baltimore Ravens.
This movie relates to our book in a few ways. First, it relates because economics. Michael Oher came from a very poor, un-educated family, in the “hood”. The Tuohy’s, the family that takes him in, is the complete opposite. They are rich, very educated, and live in the best part of town. Second, it relates to our text because of racial problems. Even though we should be over segregation and blacks and whites, in this movie, there are some women who are not. Leigh Anne Tuohy is at lunch with her girlfriends and she tells them all about Michael and what she is doing for him. Her friends completely disapprove and one of them says, “Aren’t you afraid for Collins because there is now a large black boy in their house?” Mrs. Tuohy is taken aback from this because she doesn’t see color as her friends do. Lastly, this movie relates to our book because of gang issues. Michael was originally from the “hood” where his friends were in a gang. During this movie, at one point when Michael decides that he doesn’t want help from the Tuohy’s, goes back to this “hood”. Things turn from bad to worse. Michael’s previous friends were in a gang and you can see what it has done to them and Michael is glad to not have joined into their gang because he would have come out like them.
Again, this movie is amazing in how it depicted the real events that happened to Leigh Anne Tuohy and Michael Oher. This book also relates to our textbook in many ways; racial issues, gang issues, and economically issues.

peasec said...

The Blind Side, starring Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw has been one of most moving motion pictures this year. What makes the movie so touching is the heartfelt true story of Michael Oher, an African American professional football player who grew up against the odds with the help of an affluent Caucasian family.
Oher’s father passing at a young age and his mother battling drug addictions and giving birth to numerous children forced the state to place Michael in foster homes. As many children in the system, he ran from home to home trying to find his place in the world.
In Oher’s eighth grade year his uncle made a trip to the local private school in hopes that he could get his nephew a solid education and a spot on the basketball team. Although he never had any transcripts because he never consistently attended school, the principal granted him admission in hopes that he would perform on one of the athletic teams.
The private school in which Oher attended was in an upscale neighborhood in Memphis, surrounded by wealthy white people. With no adult supervision or guidance, Michael was seen by the Touhy family one cold rainy night walking down the streets of suburban Memphis. Leigh Anne, the Touhy mother made her husband stop the vehicle to ask him if he has a place to stay for the night. Leigh Anne, a strong, prominent woman, who manages a large interior design company, allowed Michael to stay the night in her home.
Michael eventually brought his grades up to the school’s standards, and he became a member of the football team. Standing about 6’3 and weighing 275 pounds, Oher made a great addition to the football team. His kind heartedness, and softness challenged the coach at making him a good defensive lineman.
Leigh Anne’s snobby friends believed that what she was doing for the child was absurd. While out to lunch, one of them made the comment, “You’re changing that boys life, “ she replied with, “No, he’s changing mine.” The Touhy’s allowed Michael to stay in their home and they eventually legally adopted him.
Because of his strong athletic skills, many division 1 college football teams tried recruiting Oher. He ended up signing with Ole Miss, where both his adopted mother and father were past alumni’s and athletic team members. The movie sends the viewers a message of strength, devotion to what’s right, and the determination of a family to help change and mold a child into someone that every young man and woman should have the opportunity to experience.
Unfortunately, not many children that grow up in poverty or in homes where drug abuse is experienced have the opportunities that were given to Michael. In cases that we see in today’s society, many children in Oher’s position never stand a chance. As the book, Social Problems, by Henslin and Fowler, states, “the rich and politically connected pass these advantages on to their children and the poor and powerless pass disadvantages on to theirs.” In the remarkable case of the Touhy’s, they took their advantages and blessings, and passed them on to a young man who was ever so grateful.

Henslin and Fowler, Social Problems

Taylor said...

I watched the movie, “The Blind Side” staring Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw. I had no idea what the movie was about, all I knew was that Sandra was up for an award at the Academy Awards for this movie. I was surprisingly happy with this movie. It has been the best movie I have seen this year, it had purpose and a message. It was a meaningful movie. Michael Oher, an African American boy who has been through a tough life. He is one of a dozen children, which is what he last remembered. He sleeps from couch to couch but one day his uncle helped him get into a private catholic school. The sports coach wanted him simply for sports so he pulled a few strings and they accepted him. Michael was kicked out of the only place he had to stay and was washing his clothes in laundry mats, eating left over food at the games and sleeping any place he could find. It was one rainy cold night when the Touhy family was driving home in their beamer when they noticed Michael walking home with only a t-shirt and shorts on. He carries one bag that has a spare shirt. The mother makes her husband pull over, she asks Michael where he is staying tonight and he replies that he has no where to stay. From that night on Michael slowly becomes apart of the Touhy family. The Touhy family live in an upscale suburb of Memphis where Leigh Anne manages a successful interior design company. Michael feels like an insider until he realizes they are people too. He grows a bond with the youngest that really helps him find his passion for football. Michael is great at one thing, self defense. When he first started football he couldn’t quite pick it until Leigh Anne tells him that his football team is like his family. You will do anything for them, you will protect them. Its then when it clicks for Michael, from that day on Michael’s skills develop. The Touhy family supports him the whole way. He then goes on to play college football and becomes an NFL player. But it all started on that one rainy night. Leigh Anne was an outstanding individual who knew she had to do what was right. Her random act of kindness changed this whole boy’s life. Sadly this isn’t an everyday occurrence. Poverty is an ever day occurrence causing many negatives. From poverty come crime, gangs, drugs, poor education, death and a hard life. My favorite quote from the movie is when Leigh Anne has lunch with her sophisticated and close minded friends. They tell Leigh Anne that it’s wonderful what she’s doing for Michael and that she is really changing his life, she simply says, “He’s changing my life.” This movie is a true story and Sandra Bullock does such a great job it’s so believable that she could even be Mrs. Touhy. Like I said this was one of the most impacting and emotional movies I have seen all year, it was real, touching and inspiring.
If you compare the situation in the blind side to the chapter 7, Economic Problems you will find that the issues are the same. It may not be the same situation but the problems are the same. In our world their will always be people who have things handed to them, people who are well off and people who struggle to make ends meet. People who are born with money statistically will grow up having money and people born into poverty will once again grow up to live in poverty. The cycle of economics has remained the same year after year. As sad as this, it’s a way of life for many. It’s our job to take this movie into an opportunity, an opportunity to do the right thing and do our random acts of kindness.

Works Cited
Henslin, James, and Lori Fowler. Social Problems. 9th ed. 2009-07-02, 2009. Print.

orongzoo said...

I watched the movie “The Blind Side” which stared Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw. I really did not know much about the story behind the movie I just knew that it was a true story about a young African American football player, Michael Oher, who overcomes the statistics and makes it into college. The movie truly was well done and at times even made me tear up. Sandra Bullock defiantly did a great job portraying Leigh Ann Touhy and deserved the Academy Award she won not only for her work but for message the movie portrayed.
Michael Oher is an Afriacan American boy who since the age of 6 or 7 has been bounced around from couch to couch. His cousin, whom he lives with at the moment, applies to attend a private catholic school and play basketball but the coach is more interested in Michael and pulls some strings or basically puts a guilt trip on the selection committee to get him into the school. He gets kicked out of his cousin’s house and is forced to sleep in laundry mates or anywhere he can find a place to stay. However, dispite his homelessness he still continues to go to school and do his homework. One night after a basketball game, Michael is spotted by Lea Ann Touhy picking up containers of left over popcorn and eating it. She asks her son if he knows who that is and he tells her that his name is Big Mike. That night driving home the Touhy family who are members of the Memphis Elite and live in an upscale suburban house, come across Big Mike walking in the cold and rain. Lea Ann makes her husband stop and after asking him if he had a place to stay she insists he come home with them. From that point on Michael starts to become part of the family and is even given his own room and bed, which he stated that he has never had before.
Michael establishes a bond with Sean Jr. who helps Michael discover and understand football. Through a car accident involving Sean Jr. and Michael, Lea Ann discovers that Michael protects his family at all costs. It is by taking this concept of family that Lea Ann uses to help Michael understand his role in the football field. The Touhy family eventually adopts Michael, who already considered himself as part of the family, and helps him obtain the grades to get into college.
If you compare this situation to the issues discussed in chapter 7 you would see that they are relatively similar. Poverty creates crime, gangs who take the place of families, drugs, alcohol, poor education, jail, worthlessness and depression and even death. Until Lea Ann actually went to “the other side of town” she really did not understand where Michael was really coming from or escaping to. She even mentioned it to her social lites over their “19 dollar salads”. Both the movie and chapter 7 deals with social inequalities and sharing the wealth. This movie showed us that just by sharing a little of the wealth that you have been able to obtain with someone else in need that you can defiantly help make a difference to them and others. The book also discusses, and it can be seen in the movie, that the rich and powerful hand down to their children all of the advantages that being rich has and the poor and powerless hand down all the disadvantages to theirs. For example when they are discussing colleges for Michael and Sean Jr. says he is going to Ol Miss, Lea Ann tells Michael to not worry about that as long as he chooses the right color. A good example of the poor disadvantages is when Michael runs away from the Touny’s and returns home and Michael finds his cousin who had quite the Catholic school and returned to the only lifestyle he know.
Overall the movie “The Blind Side” is a must see by everyone. Not only is the movie a true story, it makes you really stop and think about everything that you have and that you should be grateful for it.

Henslin, James, and Lori Fowler. Social Problems. 9th ed. 2009-07-02, 2009. Print.

Watch Movies Online said...

Nice Read, take so much time to read but all the discussion was fantastic, i can't write so much about this movie but after reading this discussion i download The blind Side movie and watch, Sandra bullock plays a nice role role. i also watch Sandra Bullock new movie the proposal that was an awesome comedy.

Dee Dee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dee Dee said...

The political comments about this movie as well as Invictus are all starting to get funny and so political that it sounds like a political debate. All very good thoughts but to me a waste of time bantering back and forth. It was a movie. You either liked it or you didn't. The only way that we can make a true judgement is to have been there "in living color". AND ...Mr or Ms Anonymous...keep your comments anonymous and to yourself since you chose to sign in anonymous.

Bryan Caswell said...

Michael loves football. He found this love at Briarcrest. This movie is amazing, along with the book by Micheal Lewis.