White Savior Myth:
An Analysis of Coach Characters in Film
Screenshot 10.1, Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy and Quinton Aaron as Michael Oher
in The Blind Side (2009).
The presence of a white savior character is not new to us. We
have seen them time and time again. They are the characters that ride
in on a metaphorical horse and save the day: the well-intentioned,
generous, white person whose function in the film is to rescue the poor
and helpless minority. We especially see this archetype in films centered
on education in which the white teachers “save” their students; for
example, Dangerous Minds (1995), Conrack (1974), Freedom Writers (2007),
and Half Nelson (2006) are all films in which a new, outsider teacher
comes in and saves the day. When looking at coaches in films like The
Blind Side (2009) and McFarland, USA (2015), however, another pattern
can emerge in which the white savior character is not the liberator.