The Blind Side, in case you’re overseas, don’t own a TV, or are my grandparents, is the latest heartstring-pulling blockbuster starring Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw as the two wealthy white parents who take in a black kid from the projects and help him turn his life around. My initial thought was similar to yours: I’d much rather see James Cameron blow stuff up and cool blue CG aliens than Sandra Bullock teach a poor kid to keep his elbows off the table and open his heart again. No, thanks.
Luckily for Sandra, me, and this blog entry, I was already in line to buy popcorn before I realized that my family had decided to see Blind Side instead of Avatar. Disappointing, but hey, I still get popcorn. (I could live on just movie popcorn for the rest of my days, which, as my sister pointed out, would likely be less than a month.)
After a few mouthfuls of fluffy cancer, I was satisfied, and I decided to put aside my previous views of the film, resolved to watch it unbiased-ly…. unbi…. in an unbiased manner. My previous opinions of the film were rooted in an article in, among others, Time magazine (which I get on my Blackberry, score one for trees). An article said something to effect of “Blind Side is a heart-wrenching tale for aging Southern Belles about how a white family can save a black boy, if only given the chance.” After seeing the movie, I disagree,and here’s why:
Blind Side was about a wealthy family lifting a poor boy out of his surroundings, and race had very little to do with it. The kids in the family all were accepting and even encouraging. In my favorite scene, the football coach is trying to get the admissions team to bring Michael into the private Christian school. His empassioned diatribe sounds something like this (in a Southern accent):
“Are we a Christian school or not? Cuz if we are, then we need to admit this boy, because Christians are about second chances and extending grace.”
I hooted in the middle of the theatre after that one.
Truthfully, the “Michael is a misfit” jokes came more at the expense of his 250-lb 6’5″ frame than of his race, although in one scene, the family gets a phone call from a relative asking “did you know that there’s a colored boy in your Christmas photo?”
The writers and Sandra do an excellent job of confronting common misconceptions about both the low-income demographic and the black demographic. Leigh Anne (Sandra Bullock) has a lunch bunch with a few other trophy wives, one of which asks “don’t you worry, leaving your daughter alone in the house with him?” To which, Leigh Anne replies simply, “Shame on you.”
I was on the edge of my seat as Michael wandered back into his old apartment complex and into the den of a drug dealer, dealing out swift justice as he defends his new family. I cheered as the mouthy cornerback from the rival team gets blocked over a fence. I laughed as the 9-year-old son barked out Michael’s workout schedule.
Further, I resonate as a teacher seeing that one of my students has special needs and I want to give… something. Like Michael’s Biology teacher, I’ve also given verbal tests to students who can’t write well. I’ve also bumped up the grades of students who are trying hard and improving. I’ve also made sure that students have clothes and food.
I want to “save” students in my class that are family-less, and until now, those desires have been postponed. Blind Side poked that part of me with a stick and I heard Leigh Anne bark at me “He is part of my family”. Not only did I resonate with the sentiment of the movie, but I felt it encourage me to become a better Christian, and there aren’t many films that do that.
I love movies with personal growth and justice, and Blind Side has both. See it.