Section 1: The Blind Side
The Blind Side is a 2009 American biographical sports drama film that is directed by John Lee Hancock. The movie is based on the true story of Michael Oher, a homeless African-American teenager who is taken in by the wealthy, white Tuohy family. The film explores themes such as racial prejudice, socioeconomic inequality, and the transformative power of love and encouragement. In this section, we will examine various theories and explore how they can be applied to analyze and understand The Blind Side in greater depth.
Theory 1: Social Stratification Theory
Social stratification theory asserts that societies are organized into hierarchical layers or strata based on various factors such as wealth, occupation, and social status. It suggests that individuals in different strata have unequal access to resources and opportunities which contribute to social inequality.
The Blind Side accurately portrays the concept of social stratification through the stark contrast between the wealthy Tuohy family and Michael Oher’s impoverished background. The film highlights the vast socioeconomic disparities and the challenges faced by individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. Michael, as an African-American teenager living in poverty, faces numerous barriers to social mobility and struggles to break free from the cycle of poverty.
The film also explores the role of education as a key determinant of social stratification. The Tuohy family recognizes Michael’s potential and sees education as a means for him to overcome his disadvantaged background. They invest resources, time, and effort into providing him with the necessary educational support, ultimately helping him secure a football scholarship to the University of Mississippi.
However, the film’s portrayal of social stratification is not without criticism. Some argue that it oversimplifies the complexities of social inequality by attributing Michael’s success solely to the benevolence of the Tuohy family. It fails to acknowledge the systemic barriers and structural factors that contribute to social and economic inequities.
Theory 2: Symbolic Interactionism Theory
Symbolic interactionism focuses on how individuals interpret and give meaning to symbols and gestures in their social interactions. It examines the role of symbols, language, and communication in shaping individuals’ identities and social relationships.
In The Blind Side, symbolism plays a significant role in the development of Michael’s character and the portrayal of racial dynamics. One key symbol is the “protective instinct” embodied by Leigh Anne Tuohy (played by Sandra Bullock). Leigh Anne’s gesture of inviting Michael into her home and embracing him as a part of her family represents her symbolic commitment to protect and support him.
The film also explores the power of language and communication in shaping individual identities. Michael, who initially struggles with social interactions and communication, gradually develops his language skills and self-confidence through his interactions with the Tuohy family. This transformation is portrayed as a pivotal factor in his personal growth and ultimately his success on and off the football field.
Symbolic interactionism theory provides valuable insights into the dynamics of racial relationships depicted in the film. It highlights the importance of understanding the symbolic meanings attached to racial identities and the role of social interactions in challenging stereotypes and promoting understanding.
Theory 3: Critical Race Theory
Critical race theory (CRT) examines how race intersects with other systems of power to perpetuate racial inequality. It emphasizes the role of racial power structures and the impact of racism in shaping social, economic, and political institutions.
The Blind Side offers a lens to analyze themes of racial prejudice and systemic racism through the experiences of Michael Oher. The film explores the stereotypes and biases that Michael encounters as an African-American teenager, particularly within the context of predominantly white institutions such as private schools and universities.
Additionally, the film sheds light on the “white savior” trope, a recurring theme in narratives that feature white individuals intervening to save Black or minority characters. The portrayal of Leigh Anne Tuohy as the white savior is critiqued within the framework of critical race theory. It raises questions about the film’s portrayal of racial dynamics and the underlying power dynamics it perpetuates.
In this section, we examined three theories: social stratification theory, symbolic interactionism theory, and critical race theory, and their applicability to analyzing The Blind Side. The film provides valuable insights into social inequality, symbolic meanings, racial dynamics, and the broader context of racial power structures. However, it is essential to critically evaluate the film’s portrayal of these theories and recognize its limitations in depicting the complexities of social issues.