the film, like the race, belongs to a group of kids from McFarland High”
(Ambrosino). It is through this integral change in focus and Jim White’s
outward acknowledgement of his white privilege that McFarland, USA
separates from its original, white savior characterization, and White is
finally redeemed.
Leigh Anne Tuohy, Coach Cotton, and Jim White might appear
to be white saviors in The Blind Side and McFarland, USA, but the
existence of their minority redeemers presents something bigger than
the resolution of each film. White savior archetypes continually are
criticized in film for repeatedly showing privileged, white characters
saving helpless, minority characters while further promoting the idea of
white superiority. Nevertheless, while we see this phenomenon
frequently in fiction films of various genres, such as Avatar, Mississippi
Burning, and Dangerous Minds, there are other patterns evident in some
of those films. Exploring the minority redeemer archetype appearing in
films based on a true stories like The Blind Side and McFarland USA, gives
us a more complex way to look at these films. While critics are quick to
analyze white savior character and point out a multitude of
shortcomings in these films, the patterns of representation are not
always as simplistic as they appear to be. While there is no denying that
such white, privileged characters exist, the minority savior character can
be read as a reflection on the social problems in American society that
complicates these popular texts.
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