Johnny Guitar wrote:What in this "true story" appealed to the development people, marketers, producers, filmmakers? What made them think this would be a good project, a potentially successful one, which would touch people and earn bucks at the box-office? To say, "but it's a true story!" or some variant thereof does not address this still-very-important question, don't you think? For example, the circumstances of white affluence & black passivity/shyness that Italiano criticizes may indeed have been drawn from the actual story of this boy. But he's not saying they're fabricated, only that they're formulaic, and perhaps suspect on sociopolitical grounds (i.e., because they highlight one type of story at the expense of others, for one thing). So while one may point to the "reality" of their origins, the project was singled out and put through committees to become a motion picture. That, combined with "the way it is told," means that we cannot simply point to a referent in real life to justify (or criticize) the film itself ...
This is an excellent analysis of the problems that often arise when those within the dominant culture try to tell the stories of marginalized subjects, and then market them primarily towards a dominant culture audience. Full disclosure: I'm an Hispanic American, and as such, I'm an American who often feels like an American "other" because of dominant culture media portrayals of Hispanics (and years of systemic social conditioning), and I know that other people of color have similar reactions.
This is not to say that the producers of "The Blind Side" are racist or that the (presumably) white people on this board who enjoyed the film are racist. This used to be my initial reaction/judgement, but I've learned that many white people (and it must be said, some people of color who appropriate white privilege as a reaction to their internalized inferiority) are just unaware of how offensive and problematic it is to portray people of color in these ways, probably because they never had to think of themselves in terms of marginalization. Everywhere white Americans look, there are portrayals of white Americans (OK mostly straight men, but still) who are allowed to be individuals first. How nice it must be to have your pick of Disabled Hero who Saves Blue Cat-People, Charming Executive Who Flies All Over the Globe Firing People, Brave Soldier Who Defuses Bomb in Country He Never Should Have Invaded To Begin With and so on and so forth, while Black men got Incest Rape Father and Marginalized Mute! (And it's even worse for my people, we got Surly Soldier Who Dies in Big Plane in a C-Storyline so Disabled Hero Can Continue to Save Blue Cat-People!) I mean really, if I were a white man, I'd be very happy with my representation too, and I'd probably be unable to see the lack of representation for others. I imagine it never occurs to many white people that this is a privilege in America (sadly, not a right) and one that is not afforded to many people of color. But I recognize now that people can have this blind spot without necessarily being racist themselves.
As Italiano correctly points out, the black man is passive in the film and exists to illuminate the agency and goodness of the white people. This is only surprising to me because this kind of dominant culture trope was very popular in pre-Civil Rights fiction and film, and one would like to think we've grown past that. A sobering reminder indeed that nothing has changed even in this Post-Obama world.
And again, I am not accusing those who enjoyed this film and cannot see its socio-political problems, of being racist themselves or insensitive to racism. But I do think it is important for those of us (especially people of color) who do see these problems to point them out, and to not back down from a firm criticism of the film. And to the three posters in this thread who have done just that: thank you for your intelligent analysis and for defending the positions of marginalized subjects. I'm not sure whether any of you are American or what your ethnic backgrounds are, but your comments are appreciated nonetheless.
As for my own assessment? I think "The Blind Side" is terrible and the adulation for Bullock eludes me. It would be the most offensive film this year, were it not for the staggering exercise in modern day minstrelsy that is "Precious." Two films celebrated and heralded as black issue and socially conscious films...by white people.
Edited By Joey on 1262904457