Thursday, June 24, 2010
I finally watched The Blind Side to see what all the Oscar hype was about. It leaves me with a few thoughts and questions to ponder as I lie in bed trying to fall asleep.
I am not a fan of movies and stories where the kind white people swoop in and save the poor black people from their own despair and misery. Too much of history is distorted to portray the kind charity of dominate society in helping the down and out minorities. It sends the message that people of color are not strong enough to help themselves, they need the hand of the white man to give them a boost. Don't get me wrong, this story of Michael Oher is extremely powerful. I think the Toohey family did an honorable thing in helping take care of a young person in need. I wonder, why does America love this movie? I fear it is because the dominate culture enjoys a good white hero story. And that is where I find this movie frustrating.
America needs more people like Leigh Ann Toohey. Not only is she a strong woman who knows how to do the right thing, but she combats her own stereotypes and prejudices so she can authentically love the young person she has brought into her life. That is why this story works for me. My favorite scene is when she is at lunch with her girlfriends and stands her ground against prejudice jokes made about people of color. This is the real heroism in the movie. Self reflecting, I have not done enough to stand up against racism, classism, and all the other -isms that are routinely exploited by dominate culture. How many times I have been sitting around with friends, heard an off-color comment, and not had the courage to tell that person that they should have been ashamed of themselves? Being passive perpetuates the problems that tear apart society.
I feel that had this movie been a poor white kid instead of a poor black kid, there would have been more emphasis on how hard the white kid worked, instead of how hard the white family worked for the black kid. Perhaps I am reading into this too much? I just don't think we (read: dominate culture) value the initiate and hard work of minority cultures beyond the holiday heros we celebrate as bank holidays. Dominate culture most definitely does not celebrate this as much as it does celebrates the hard work and perseverance of white culture. Children, all children, need to have role models in popular culture that demonstrate leadership and ability of people in their own culture. Yes, white children need to see people of their own culture breaking through the stereotypes and doing what is right, much like the Toohey family does in this film, but I think it is much more important to celebrate films where people from minority cultures can see a hero that looks like them finding success without the help of dominate culture. These children need to see this, because let's be honest, there are not enough Toohey families to make this story more common place.
Overall, I liked the film. It is always nice when a good person has good things come to them. I just wish we could move away from making movies that celebrate the white hero helping colored man out and make more box office Oscar winning hits that celebrate all the amazing things people from minority cultures have overcome without the white hero. Don't misunderstand me: I am not advocating that majority culture leave minority culture to their own means. There has so much injustice and inequity throughout history, there is much that needs to be done by dominate culture to bridge the gap that the dominate white culture has created between the haves and have nots. I am advocating that more attention be given to people who have overcome enormous obstacles without the help of the dominate white culture, because let's be honest, the man has been keeping them down.