“The Blind Side” (2009) is a Hollywood film starring Sandra Bullock about the true-life story of Leigh Anne Tuohy, a rich white woman who adopts a poor black boy, Michael Oher, who later goes on to play American football for Ole Miss and the Baltimore Ravens. She is “a fine Christian lady” with a gun and a millionaire husband who owns a string of Taco Bells in Memphis, Tennessee.
Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for Best Actress. It was made for $29 million (2 million crowns) but brought in $309 million.
The true story: Michael Oher’s mother was hooked on crack. His father was in and out of prison and later murdered. Oher himself was in foster care from age seven onwards, being shifted from home to home and school to school. Sometimes he even lived on the streets. But on the strength of his football talent he was able to get into a good private school – despite his bad grades and lack of money. He went on to become one of the top high school football players in the state.
And that was before he met the Tuohys.
The Tuohys took him in and gave him a home only after he became a top football player. Some suspect it was to help to get him into Ole Miss, the University of Mississippi, their old school where football is big. After they helped to get his grades up, that is just what came to pass.
As Hollywood tells it, he was a nobody when Leigh Ann Tuohy found him cold and alone, living on the street. She took him in as her “Christian duty”. And it was she who made him into a football star. When they met he barely knew how to play football – as if he had grown up in a dark hole or something.
In the film she does question her motives – but only to conclude that she cannot help being so Nice!
At the end of the film she reads a news story about someone from Oher’s old neighbourhood who was also good at sports: he was shot dead at age 21.
I found it unpleasant to watch: half the time Oher just kind of stands there saying nothing, big, strong and slow-witted – while Tuohy does most of the talking and doing. She seems to regard him as some kind of overgrown 12-year-old. She compares him to a storybook bull.
Stereotypes: Some say the Oher character is a Magical Negro – a black character who comes out of nowhere and uses his amazing powers to save the white lead. He is like that except that it is Tuohy who does the saving, not him.
A far better fit is the White Saviour or Nice White Lady saving Helpless Darkies. Think of Michelle Pfeiffer in “Dangerous Minds” (1995). The fit is so good that the facts have been changed to make Oher appear much more Helpless than he was and Tuohy way Nicer.