The Blind Side of The Blind Side

Published on January 31st, 2012

Alex live blogs The Blind Side, and writes about the Southern-belle-saves-black-people genre.

There is this odd, maybe predictable trend in Hollywood movies that bothers me a lot, but still might not bother me as much as it should. It seems like every few years, Hollywood will see the success of a movie in which a southern belle helps black people overcome some sort of struggle, in a way that only a woman with a twang could possibly do. I’m certain this style of film pre-dates Driving Miss Daisy, but since that one took home the Best Picture Oscar in the same year that Do the Right Thing was released, I tend to call it the Driving Miss Daisy Effect. I recognize I’m no expert on race relations, but I’m smart enough to know these movies are ludicrous. Seemingly every large science-fiction movie is a white savior film (see: Avatar, surely John Carter next month), but the ones starring Emma Stone might be worse offenders because movies like Driving Miss Daisy are taking place in a reality we recognize. This year, The Help (and its Best Picture nomination) showed us that people still love this type of awful, pandering film… but in 2009, Sandra Bullock did the same thing. And since it’s Super Bowl week, I figured I might as well live blog some footbally-y racism.

Somebody should have protected Jay Cutler's blind side a little better.

00:00:01 – Warner Bros Logo. I’m already upset.

00:00:45 – I remember the intro to this movie actually being good, and it still is. It’s a break down of why protecting the quarterback’s blind side is so important, with a focus on the play that ended Joe Theismann’s career. It’s footbally, but it’s good. (Also, the back’s name in the play they show is Riggins, which is cool.)

00:02:45 – In the introductory voiceover, Sandra Bullock says that the ideal left tackle has “feet as quick as a hiccup.” This is getting twangy quick.

00:05:04 – Carter Burwell did the music for this movie! Lesson: If the only movie the Coen Brothers make in 2009 is the super low budget A Serious Man, you’ve got to score a piece of shit to pay the bills.

00:08:32 – Coach Cotton is trying to talk the board of Wingate Christian school to accept our hero Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron) as a student. Not because he’s a promising athlete, but because it’s the Christian thing to do! However, Coach Cotton is lying, as he just wants ‘Big Mike’ at the school for his athletic potential. I wonder if there will be a lesson to be leaned about this…

00:11:40 – Michael is given a test on the first day of school, and just sits at his desk and does nothing until after the bell rings and the class clears out. He doesn’t even leave with all the other kids, he waits until the teacher approaches him, and then he asks if he can leave… BUT HE DREW A BOAT ON THE BACK OF HIS TEST. What a sweetheart he must be.

00:12:02 – Michael’s aunt doesn’t like having Mike sleep on their couch! It looks like Big Mike is getting the boot. I hope everything works out for him.

00:12:14 – And then Sandra Bullock, as Leigh Anne Tuohy, walks into the film, wearing a shocking amount of white. She’s giving somebody the business via cell phone. Lesson: Leigh Anne Tuohy don’t take no shit.

00:14:45 – The teacher that believes in Michael reads a poem to her fellow teacher, written by Michael himself. “He entitled it ‘White Walls,’” and it’s about how he feels out of place. Lesson: Michael writes poems because he’s emotional and sensitive.

00:14:58 – Michael walks up to two little girls on a swing set and says ‘hi.’ They run away FOR TOTALLY VALID REASONS. Seriously, these girls were maybe seven years old. That’s a weird thing for a seventeen year old to do, no matter how many poems they write.

00:15:03 – And now we meet S.J. Tuohy, Leigh Anne’s son who is that type of dipshit, precocious, overconfident movie kid that can talk to anybody. It looks like he and Michael will be friends because they’re polar opposites. OMG INVENTIVE SCREENWRITING BRO.

00:20:20 – Leigh Anne sees Michael walking by himself in the rain, but what she really sees is injustice. I bet she’s going to do something about this. She invites Big Mike to stay on the couch at their house.

00:23:35 – I’m pretty sure the direction given to Quinton Aaron before every take was, “Yeah, but can you do it again while looking way sadder?” Seriously, he looks like he’s just about to cry at all times. Also, Aaron is a shitty actor, which doesn’t help.

00:24:57 – In the morning, Leigh Anne goes downstairs to see Michael, and oh my god he folded up his sheets! What a special gentleman!

00:27:02 – It’s Thanksgiving, and Michael is having dinner with the Tuohys. But as the Tuohys sit in front of the television to watch football, Michael goes and sits at the table (by himself) and eats his dinner, because he is a special gentleman. Don’t you remember?

00:27:32 – Leanne moved the whole family into the dining room. Gawww… She also appeared to put a lot of time into the table spread, which can’t have been frustrating to the rest of the family. Lesson: all the food is cold.

00:29:45 – Michael says he doesn’t like to be called Big Mike. Awww, he doesn’t like to be defined by something external like size, he prefers to be known for his PERSONALITY.

00:37:30 – Michael scored in the 98th percentile for protective instincts on some test that was administered. I wonder if this information will come into play later.

00:39:12 – Learning montage! Other teachers are testing him. Yay! People are learning to love Michael for the sensitive, emotional special gentleman that he is… except for Teacher with Douchey Goatee. He’s going to be a tougher nut to crack, I’m sure.

00:41:43 – The kids are all reading Where the Wild Things Are together. I assume in the next scene Michael will get really into the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Pictured: Michael Oher's favourite band.

00:42:58 – I just realized I rage-ate a bag of Nibs really quickly. I feel kind of ill.

00:46:20 – Michael: “Your mom roots against Tennessee, no matter who they play?” Leigh Anne: “Yes, I do. With gusto.” That’s funny. As much as I hate this movie, I do enjoy Sandra Bullock, and she nails that line. (How Julia Roberts became America’s Sweetheart in the 1990s over Sandy’s infinite charms confuses me.)

00:48:12 – Friend of Leigh Anne: “Honey, you’re changing that boy’s life.” Leigh Anne: “No… he’s changing mine.” Oh god, I just vomited Nibs everywhere.

00:49:39 – Oh, look. Mike is pushing those little girls on the swings now! After Leanne has enforced her family values on him and taught him how to hang out with seven year olds!

00:51:40 – It’s Michael’s first football practice. Humourous hijinks ensue due to Michael’s lack of knowledge about the game.

00:52:30 – Michael gets distracted from his blocking when some balloons float by in the sky. Jesus. That’s not even racist, it’s just stupid.

00:53:15 – Now S.J. is teaching Michael how to play football. Ha! He’s so small and precocious!

00:57:30 – Leigh Anne is taking Michael to the DMV in order to get him some identification, but she doesn’t care for all this waiting that she has to do… so she just rushes in front of the whole line, and somehow doesn’t get stabbed.

01:04:40 – The Tuohys bought Michael a truck for some reason, even though he apparently hasn’t been taught to drive? I’m perplexed.

01:05:48 – This movie constantly infantilizes Michael, despite the fact that he seems to be a high school senior. It’s weird. He’s written like S.J.’s dumb, eight year old mute friend, but he’s supposed to be a seventeen year old.

01:06:19 – Michael is now driving S.J. to go buy Madden, and this excitement has apparently caused Michael to decide that he should talk a lot now… and him and S.J. are actually doing the Rush Hour dance in the car while rapping along to Bust A Move. More importantly, how does S.J. know the words to Bust a Move? Wasn’t he born in like 1999?

"EVEN WE THINK THE BLIND SIDE IS PRETTY RACIST"

01:10:10 – Michael is having trouble at practice again, but Leigh Anne knows what to do! She’ll just storm onto the field, mid-practice, and tell Michael to pretend the QB he’s supposed to be protecting is Leigh Anne, because she knows his protective instincts will kick in. That’s cool and all, but maybe you shouldn’t be running all over the field in the middle of a practice. Or maybe you shouldn’t cut in line at the DMV. Lesson: Leigh Anne is a pretty disrespectful woman, but apparently that’s totally okay because she’s in the right.

01:16:13 – Leigh Anne actually called Coach Cotton’s phone during a game, AND HE PICKED UP. This guy is a terrible coach. Lesson: clear eyes, full hearts, cell phones off, buddy.

01:19:10 – Once Coach Cotton puts his damn phone down and protects Michael from the racist refs, Michael steps his game up! Now, suddenly, Michael knows the plays and is even calling them somehow. What.

01:36:18 – Michael’s tutor, Kathy Bates, is doing some weird monologue about how there are bones under the field at Tennessee, a college Michael is thinking of going to. This terrifies Michael into going to Ole Miss… again, painful infantilization of Michael.

01:40:40 – Michael wrote an essay about courage, because sometimes teachers don’t know everything and stuff. It all depends on where you come from. But honour is what makes you who you are, or something. Hope for courage, try for honour, Michael says, and you cry as you learn things about the world. He even wins over Teacher with Douchey Goatee!

Pictured: The facial hair of intolerance.

01:46:50 – A woman from the NCAA investigates Michael’s decision to go to Ole Miss, as the Tuohy’s are considered Ole Miss boosters, and might have taken Michael in just to get him to Ole Miss. Basically, the NCAA woman hates the Tuohy’s family values. OH AND BY THE WAY SHE’S BLACK. Lesson: this movie hates black women. Every black woman (I’m counting three) in this movie stands in the way of Michael getting a good life, while three white women (Leigh Anne, Kim Dickens’ character a little, and Kathy Bates) help Michael gain a good, stable, Christian life.

01:57:40 – Leigh Anne tells Michael that she’ll root for him, even if he goes to Tennessee! That’s the saying, right? “A mother will love you, no matter what. Even if you’re wearing Volunteer orange.”

1:58:40 – Michael is really conveniently talkative, and he snaps out of his quiet tendencies whenever it serves the plot. This time, he’s winning over the NCAA woman with a long speech. Lesson: this movie blows.

The Blind Side, and movies of its kind, are awful. In the DMV scene, when Leigh Anne charges in front of the line because she sees injustice, nobody gets upset at her (and one even encourages her). But this is all okay to her because Leigh Anne’s “Not cuttin’, she’s just askin’.” When she asks who is in charge, the DMV worker points to a picture of President George W. Bush. Leigh Anne says, “Well I could have it in shape in two days, I can tell you that.” How would she do this, one asks? Perhaps by enforcing whatever rules she feels are proper for the people around her, and not listening to what anybody else says? Maybe the people she is allegedly trying to help don’t need ‘help’ as you ascribe it. Maybe they need something that involves you listening to what it is they actually need, as opposed to deciding for yourself. Now, everything worked out for Leigh Anne, and Michael Oher is currently playing for the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL. But this is an awful message to send; even outside of the infantilization of Michael, this movie does nothing but tell people to assume they’re right, and that the good Christian way is the only way that matters. This movie might make a joke about President Bush, but it doesn’t realize that Leigh Anne kind of operates in the same way. Each saw something they didn’t know, and each acted similarly. When one knows with such certainty that they are right, they never stop to think about their decisions, not even when they’ve destroyed a country with the values they feel should be instilled. Things worked out in this highly fictionalized version of true story, but in the real world things got kind of fucked up for a lot of people. Except for the white dude who failed. He can always retreat back to his good Christian values when the time to try to change things runs out.

Pictured: America.

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