I'll be honest - I had a ton of preconceived notions before I went to see The Blind Side last week. On the car ride there I was telling my mom exactly what to expect regarding race representation (in retrospect I feel kind of bad about that because I think she just wanted to go see a heart-felt movie. oops). And as I sat down in the movie theater I was a total media & society student - ready to pick apart every single aspect of the film and how it related to race representation. I would say that I was in a pretty cynical mood...definitely feeling very "politically correct," and totally priding myself in that.
But then, pretty much from the moment the movie started, I felt my heart begin to soften. Okay, maybe I didn't completely fall for the "tear-jerking, win over your cold heart" aim of the film (or, maybe I did!), but I definitely gave up on my cynicism and (overly) political correctness. I realized that whatever the race representation in this film may be, I refuse to be that person I hate...the person that picks apart every single aspect of what *might* be racism or sexism or ideological etc. etc. Ugh. I never want to be like that, in the same way that I don't ever want to be on the other end of the spectrum as a naive spectator of media effects and race representations.
So before I even get into what I thought about the film, I learned something really important about myself. I never want to be an angry, pessimistic, "set in my ways" person when it comes to the media, politics, race, ideology...none of that. Maybe I am being that naive spectator in saying this - but I'd rather be optomistic and hopeful that humanity and even the media is taking steps forward with all of those things I just mentioned. And simply the act of going to see this film helped me to realize that.
OKAY, onto the film. Honestly, I really liked it. I stopped myself from picking apart each scene and just tried to enjoy the movie as a whole. Yes - of course there were race representations present. There is really no denying that. But given the story about a young, homeless black man from the inner city moving in with a rich, white family a) there was really no way around these representations taking place and b) I think the film did a fairly decent job handling them (I'm fully prepared to have tomatoes thrown at me right about now). Oh, and before I continue...I just have to say that I was SO glad when Mike said he didn't like being called BIG MIKE because if I heard someone call him that one more time I was going to scream!!!!!!!!!!!
Ahem, anyway. In class we talked about that fact that just because it was a true story it doesn't mean representations can't be created/changed/manipulated, and I kept that in mind throughout the entire film. And yes, I would say that certain representations were not exactly "positive." But here's what made me like the film. At the end, I did not get the sense that a white woman (family) sacrified herself to save a poor, helpless black boy. Rather, I left the theater thinking that in the end race really had nothing to do with their relationship. Leigh Anne truly loved Michael as her son, and he loved her as his mother. The pictures of the real-life family during the closing credits reinforced this for me. In fact, those images moved me more than the rest of the film. Seeing the real "Big Mike" and Tuohy family made the story so much more real to me, and I could see the love between them. I'm not saying that race was never a factor in the relationship. In the world we live in, it had to have been. But it seems as though they overcome that, and that is pretty encouraging.
Okay, it totally sounds like I drank the koolaid. And maybe I have! That could mean one of two things. The Blind Side is a true story that portrays the positive way that race relations can and should take place, or, the creators of The Blind Side did a really good job of convincing white people that "love" can overcome anything, even racial differences. I think that there is truth in both of those. And, unfortunately, the latter could potentially make a lot of people assume that race isn't as important of an issue as it really is, if that makes sense.
I know that this entry has mainly highlighted the positive things I thought about the film, but the truth is that I found some negative aspects as well - mainly regarding the "white family saves the day" concept. And like we talked about in class the other day.....even if that *is* truly the story that took place, and all of the right intentions were there, it is still important to look at the effects that this movie could/will have on our society regarding race relations and representations. Some people might view it as a step forward and some may see it as a step backward. So, which is it?! I really look forward to discussing that as a class, because as of right now my only answer is, "it's all relative."