midst” (Ambrosino). Even though the film is largely told from White’s
perspective, it is filled with a genuine sense of community. For example,
the team members are depicted not as victims who need saving but on
the same level as their coach. Unlike many other white savior films,
McFarland, USA is not about teaching a bunch of potential thugs how
to be better people: “The film takes the time to explore these kids’
troubles, but doesn’t come away with easy value judgments” (Ebiri).
Nobody but Coach White himself needs to be redeemed in this
film. And, all throughout the story, Director Niki Caro convinces the
viewers to become interested in the minority characters’ lives. Caro
notes, “it was really important for us that he be a flawed guy who was
ultimately redeemed by the community . . .You see him become a better
coach, a better father and a better man through his interaction with this
place and these people” (Saporito). The final step to redemption for
White, however, is when he becomes aware of his own privilege in one
of the most significant monologues of the film:
When I went out into the field with you Diaz kids, I’ll
be honest: that was the worst day’s work I ever had to
do in my life. And I said to myself, whatever kind of
crappy job I wind up in, it will never be as tough as that.
You kids do it every day. Your parents hope they can
do it every day, and they’ll do it for a lifetime if it means
a better life for you. You guys are superhuman. What
you endured just to be here, to get a shot at this. The
kind of privilege someone like me takes for granted.
There’s nothing you can’t do with that kind of strength,
with that kind of heart. You kids have the biggest hearts
I’ve ever seen. Go run your race.
In this moment, it becomes clear that Jim has evolved from prejudices
viewers saw at the beginning of the film in the Mexican restaurant. In
this moment, “this is not Jim White’s state final: it’s the team’s. And
what they do on the course-their sweat, their success, their failure-is
theirs. Yes, the White family is at times front and center in this film, and
their character transformations are integral to the plot. But importantly,
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