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Revisiting the Controversies Surrounding the Film 'The Blind Side'
Examining the Impact and Aftermath of a 'True' Hollywood Story
After shocking news of Michael Oher, ex-NFL tackle for the Tennessee Titans and the Baltimore Ravens, releasing statements last August stating that the story of the Touhy family depicted in the Hollywood film, ‘The Blind Side’, was a lie, the Tuohy family shot back. Now, the two sides are no longer part of a heartwarming story many thought were true. Today we’re looking at some of the controversies surrounding the 2009 Award winning film ‘The Blind Side’.
Based On a True Story
‘The Blind Side’ is a heartwarming movie that made a significant impact both culturally and in the realm of sports. Released in 2009, it's based on the true story of Michael Oher, an African American teenager from a broken home, who was taken in by Leigh Anne Tuohy, a white, affluent woman, and her family. This film not only tells the story of Oher's journey from poverty to becoming a first-round pick in the NFL but also delves deep into themes of empathy, racial relations, and the transformative power of love and support.
One of the most significant impacts of ‘The Blind Side’ is its focus on the power of kindness and the concept of family beyond biological ties. It challenged audiences to look beyond racial and socio-economic differences and highlighted the profound effect of giving someone a chance. The movie also sparked conversations about the role of sports in providing opportunities for underprivileged youth and the importance of educational and emotional support in nurturing talent.
Michael: It’s nice, I never had one before
Leigh Anne: What, a room to yourself?
Michael: A bed
Moreover, "The Blind Side" had a tangible influence on the sports world, particularly in the NFL. Oher's story brought attention to the importance of the left tackle position in football, a role often overlooked by casual fans. It also inspired other athletes from difficult backgrounds, showing them that success is attainable with hard work and the right support system.
Recent Allegations & Controversies
However, the recent controversies surrounding Michael Oher and the Tuohy family have cast a new light on the story depicted in "The Blind Side." Last August, In a startling turn of events, Michael Oher, now 37, has challenged the narrative that has defined his public persona for years.
Contrary to the popular tale of his adoption by a white family from homelessness, Oher alleges that the Tuohys never legally adopted him. According to reports by ESPN, Oher filed a legal petition in Tennessee, accusing Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy of establishing a conservatorship over him shortly after he turned 18, rather than adopting him. This conservatorship, he claims, was a means for the Tuohys to control his finances and profit from his story through the success of the book and the 2009 film.
In response to Oher's legal action, a Tennessee judge terminated the conservatorship, expressing surprise that it was ever established given Oher's mental and physical condition at the time. This decision allowed Oher to regain control of his finances but also permitted his case against the Tuohys to proceed.
Amidst this turmoil, the Tuohy family, through their lawyer Marty Singer, released a statement countering Oher's claims. They alleged that Oher demanded $15 million from them and threatened to tarnish their image in the media if they did not comply. The family insists that the conservatorship was intended to assist Oher, particularly in obtaining health insurance, and that they did not profit from it.
So what is a conservatorship? A conservatorship is a legal concept where a court appoints an individual or organization (the conservator) to manage the financial and personal affairs of another person (the conservatee) deemed incapable of managing their own affairs. This arrangement is typically established for individuals who are unable to make decisions for themselves due to physical or mental limitations, such as those with severe disabilities, dementia, or other conditions that impair their ability to function independently.
The main objective of a conservatorship is to protect and manage the personal and financial interests of the conservatee. In financial conservatorships, the conservator is responsible for overseeing the conservatee's assets, paying bills, making investment decisions, and ensuring financial stability. In a personal conservatorship, the conservator might make decisions about living arrangements, health care, and other personal matters.
In the case of Michael Oher and the Tuohy family, the conservatorship, as alleged by Oher, was set up shortly after he turned 18. This is unusual since conservatorships are typically established for individuals who are unable to make their own decisions due to age, disability, or mental incapacity. Oher's case contends that he was neither mentally incapacitated nor physically disabled at the time, raising questions about the legitimacy and intent behind establishing the conservatorship.
Other Controversies Surrounding the Film
Amidst these courtside allegations, critics and viewers are now shedding light upon the film itself and whether or not some of the portrayal of characters and events have in fact, been ‘true’.
One of the most significant criticisms of the movie revolves around the portrayal of Michael Oher. Critics and viewers alike have noted that Oher is depicted as a largely passive and somewhat naive character, lacking in both intelligence and agency. This portrayal was seen as perpetuating harmful stereotypes about African American athletes being more brawn than brain. Oher himself expressed discomfort with this depiction, stating in interviews that the film exaggerated his lack of football knowledge and downplayed his academic and athletic achievements prior to meeting the Tuohys.
Another controversial aspect of "The Blind Side" is its depiction of the Tuohy family's role in Oher's decision to attend the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). The film suggests that Oher's decision to attend Ole Miss, where Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy both studied, was largely influenced by the family. This portrayal raised concerns about the autonomy of Oher's decision-making and implied that his choices were significantly guided, if not determined, by the Tuohys. Critics argue that this aspect of the movie reinforced the notion of a white family directing the life of a young Black man, further entrenching the 'white savior' narrative.
While stories from both sides are slowly starting to berth from the ground, it is quite certain at this point that they won’t be heading back to the same house again.
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