Thursday, June 26, 2014

Seeing the Blind Side

The Representation Test is really important because it does shed light on the significance of diversity in the media. Audiences enjoy movies that contain a little bit of everything, but this can be ineffective when the diversity trumps the realistic development of the setting. In The Blind Side, characters are chosen to represent the true essence of the plot and the town that the story takes place in. It is important for the people and their personalities to capture the culture. In this case, the Representation Test does not serve as an accurate measurement of success, talent, or overall value. Producers should not prioritize checking all of the boxes over developing a powerful message through their story. Imagine if all movies got perfect scores on this test – all of their diversity would make them so unexcitingly similar.


The role of women in The Blind Side is very interesting. While Michael is a focal character in the film, Sandra Bullock also plays a lead role as Leigh Anne Tuohy. Beyond being very central, she is also acting as the guardian and heroine in the movie. She is equally matronly and tough toward her family and the community. Her caring side opens up to Michael and brings him in her home despite the fact that he is from an entirely different world. On the other hand, Leigh Anne understands how to motivate people and how to do what is best for them. Something else that is unique about Leigh Anne as the protagonist is that she is older. Perhaps she isn’t forty-five, but she’s a mother figure who talks about issues beyond men. However, all of the women of color in the film are present as stereotypical figures. After all, a main theme of the movie is overcoming stereotypes. In this case, this stereotype is a colored person who is underprivileged and undereducated.


As far as men in the film, there are many and they play in a variety of capacities. It’s quite obvious though, that Michael is the lead male. Michael beats his odds of being a black male who ends up unemployed, addicted, or convicted. Despite him defeating the stereotypes that would normally consume him, his role does not earn a check mark on the Representation Test for including men of color who are not reduced to racial stereotypes. This is because it is the stereotype that brings his character the attention. There is some violence present in the movie, but most of the men are supportive, especially Leigh Anne’s husband Sean and their son SJ. What is interesting about their behavior, though, is that it seems to be heavily influenced by Leigh Anne’s. They seem to pick up on her decisions and as a result, this portrays her even more strongly as a female leader. Overall, there are many instances when people – women in the community, school administrators, and coaches – doubt Michael Oher’s potential so it is really amazing to see the ones who grow to love him and empower him on his journey to success.

There is a lot to be noticed about gender display (Image Based Culture, 5). Leigh Anne Tuohy actually violates what is expected of her as a Southern woman. Technically, by her society’s standards, she is not supposed to take a black boy into her home, much less one who is illiterate and headed nowhere without her. In this situation, she should mind her own business and take care of her own family. Instead, she goes against her down-home Stepford wife fa├žade to recreate the definition of family. Leigh Anne draws attention to her inner strength over her sexuality (Image Based Culture, 5). She is the one who leads the family forward and holds everyone together.


Black and white are really the only two races that show up in the movie. But it wouldn’t make too much sense to see anything else. After all, this is a smaller and more traditional city in the South. Furthermore, there are no disabled or homosexual people. It takes away from the diversity in the movie, but the setting itself is not supposed to be very diverse. It would distract from the heart of the film’s message. Sometimes too much embellishment is not necessary when the lessons being taught are already dramatic and powerful. This movie never glorifies violent or criminal behavior. But rather, it praises people and opportunities that overcome such obstacles. Substance abuse, undereducation, unemployment, and violent conflict are all issues that plague our society. This true story and interpretation through film show people that possibilities are endless despite the hardships that may overshadow them at first.


Ultimately, The Blind Side gets a solid B on the Representation Test. However, it gets an A+ from me. This movie deserves three/three because it truly embodies the feeling of the true story and setting. Changing the actual events for the sake of adding unnecessary diversity would take away from the unique victory won by the Tuohy’s, Michael Oher, and their community at large. The Blind Side teaches us that where a person comes from or what he looks like is not important. It’s what is inside, a man or woman’s genuine character and potential that matters. There is not a staged mixture of people who are wheelchair-bound, lesbian, Asian, or even White that could reach the audience better than it already did.

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