Directed by: John Lee Hancock
Written by: John Lee Hancock
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Quinton Aaron, Jae Head, Lily Collins, Ray McKinnon
Even with its attempts to be uplifting and inspirational, films that land in the white savior category fall into the same trap. They all take the exceptional abilities of a person of color and then center the entire story on the adjacent white person, who went along for the ride. It demonstrates a shallow understanding of the story, thus exposing the true intentions of the storytellers. There are plenty with The Blind Side being one of the most egregious examples.
Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron) is homeless and goes from couch to couch, wherever he will be taken in. Upon being discovered by Leigh Anne (Sandra Bullock) and Sean Touhy (Tim McGraw), they take him in and adopt him as one of their own. As he lives with this new family, he begins to show his exceptional skill to play football and one of the most important positions, which includes protecting other players.
Even with its seemingly good intentions on display, The Blind Side shows its true colors when it decides to show a bit of Michael Oher, but the true protagonist of the story remains Leigh Anne. Through the course of the story, we learn more about what she does, her family life, her inner circle, and how she feels about Michael’s impact rather than truly allowing Michael’s story to be told. Painfully, it’s made clear by the director and producers attached to the project. None of them had any interest in telling a story about Michael, instead, it became about the white folks around him and how they saved him from a life of death. It shows just how rotten this film is at its core.
It’s evident in the scenes where Leigh Anne talks back to stereotypical gangster Black men, in a way to assert her dominance. I can only imagine the other white folks who watched that moment and cheered because they always wanted the opportunity to do so for more hateful reasons. Nearly every other Black character outside of Michael represents a damaging environment, which the Touhy family pulls the young man away from. Whether it be his drug-addicted mother or the dangerous men who monitor the apartment complex of extreme poverty. It begs the questions as to who this film was even made for because it certainly was not for people of color. The Blind Side was made to make other white folks feel better about their participation in a racist system because they helped one poor black fellow one day.
Even with its rotten core, nothing on a technical or acting level works at all. The Academy Awards lost more of its shine when they decided to award Best Actress to Sandra Bullock for this performance. I am not sure what warranted it, as she utilized a bland southern accent and did nothing remotely noteworthy with the character of Leigh Anne. Oh, I understand now, she represents someone other privileged folks wish they could be. Take the moment where Leigh Anne eats lunch with her other affluent friends. They try to speak about their concern of having Michael living with her family, especially with her teenage daughter. Once again, playing on the racist trope of Black men being present to steal white women. Leigh Anne then speaks out and admonishes them for the words said. How many would just give a small laugh as to not make things awkward? Leigh Anne spoke up and then became the hero of the story rather than Michael.
The moment in question would have more weight if Leigh Anne addressed the incredibly harsh racism in the statements made by her friends. It would never happen because this film likes to toe the line of portraying these characters in a positive light when we know Leigh Anne has been part of this racist friend group for years now. It says plenty about her and suddenly the addition of one Black person in her life suddenly changes everything. Yet another notch on the white savior playbook. This film truly checks every box there.
The Blind Side is truly rotten and glosses over several glaring issues to tell a feel-good story about how a white Christian family did their duty and helped a poor Black boy rise to prominence. Notice how the poor Black boy came after the white Christan family in that sentence? That’s exactly how the film operates, which shows the true intentions of this film. It has nothing to offer outside of its incredibly shallow story, so just throw in the bin with other useless white savior movies.