understand Michael as an individual and utilize him in the most effective
way possible for the team. Ignoring Cotton’s “effective” yelling
technique, she explains to Michael that his role on the team is to protect
the quarterback in the same way he protects his family. She transforms
the concept of football into a language that Michael understands. It is
not until Coach Cotton realizes, after Michael successfully blocks under
Leigh Anne’s instruction, that even if his players have innate football
ability, he still must coach them in order for his character to be
redeemed. Walking away from the field, Leigh Anne says, “Coach, you
need to get to know your players,” signaling to not only to Coach
Cotton but also to viewers that Michael is more than his racial identity
and imposing build. Through his ability to overcome the stereotypes
that he is not as smart as other (white) children, that he is dangerous
because he is a large (black) man, and that he needs to be saved by a
white, angelic, wealthy family, Michael teaches his coaches that they
should judge people based on their character instead of their outward
appearance, and Michael has plenty of character. The Blind Side may
include the white, male, savior archetype in Coach Cotton, but it also
serves as a critique of that stereotype. White men save the
underprivileged black man because of Leigh Anne, the female
protagonist who overpowers the male coach and the portrayal of the
black “victim,” thus defying this archetype and becoming the true savior
of the film.
While The Blind Side, portrays the dynamics between an upper
class, white family and a homeless, black teenager, McFarland, USA tells
the story of a team of Mexican-American, cross-country runners who
are led by a white coach, fittingly named Jim White (Kevin Costner), in
their pursuit of a state championship. Like The Blind Side--because of
the white coach appearing to save the minority--McFarland, USA
contains narrative elements that initially identify it as a white savior film.
Coach White begins the film critical and ignorant of the minority
Mexican population in McFarland, California. For example, when
Coach White and his family are forced to relocate to McFarland after
he is fired from a football coaching job, they scowl at everything they
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