Furthermore, while the white savior is usually positioned to redeem
students from the outset, it is actually the minority character or team
members that save their coaches from their biases in The Blind Side and
McFarland, USA.
The Blind Side centers on the Tuohys, a white, Republican family
in the Deep South who adopt a homeless, African-American teenager
named Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron). The Tuohys, and especially the
mother Leigh Anne (Sandra Bullock), teach Michael valuable life
lessons and introduce him to the sport of football. The Blind Side
garnered wide attention, praise, and Sandra Bullock won the Academy
Award for Best Actress. Some commenters, however, did not join in
the applause. For example, in his “The Progressive Corner’s Blog,” H.
Rogers criticizes the film, noting that the plot is similar to those of the
White Savior genre and arguing that, “A Black person is doing nothing
with his life, virtually homeless, with no past and no future, and then all
of a sudden, a perfect, prosperous and humane White family appears…
and they change his life. Whiteness saving Blackness vividly depicted
in this film” (Karlman). Rogers’s problem, however, is that he is
ignoring the fact that while the Tuohys may physically save Oher from
being homeless and the white savior character may still exist, it is Oher
himself who rescues his coaches from their predispositions. It is
Michael Oher who becomes the savior. Furthermore, while Michael
might be saved from his environment, it is only when he is able to teach
his coaches about their racial discrimination that the white teachers are
redeemed and saved from the prejudices of the larger society.
In the film, there are two characters that I would define as
coaches: Leigh Anne Tuohy, Michael’s adoptive mother who
understands Michael as a player and convinces his football coach of his
potential; and Coach Cotton (Ray McKinnon), Michael’s high school
football coach. The Leigh Anne Tuohy character begins the film as a
white, ignorant, upper-class mother, but when she meets Michael, her
views on the society in which she lives change. The turning point for
Leigh Anne is when she is out to lunch with her high society friends
and they criticize her Christmas Card saying, “Do you realize that a
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