The easy Christianity of ‘The Blind Side’

Josh Larsen

It verges on blasphemy to question “The Blind Side.”

Not only has the movie garnered Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Actress, it has also made an unexpected $241 million - and counting. What’s more, the picture has been wholeheartedly embraced by scores of American churchgoers. Sermons are even being fashioned around it.

I thought the film was a crock. Yes, I realize it is based on a true story, that of Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy, a wealthy, white Christian couple in Memphis, Tenn., who took in a homeless black teen named Michael Oher and nurtured him to an eventual career in the National Football League. Good for all three of them – they should be proud of taking huge risks and defeating overwhelming odds. I only wish “The Blind Side” had given us an honest sense of their sacrifice and struggle.

As presented in the film, the Tuohys essentially adopt a pet. Oher, played by Quinton Aaron, comes into their lives without much trouble or disruption – indeed, you get the sense that training a new puppy would present more difficulty. The lack of character given to Oher - he gets maybe a dozen lines - is insulting. (It may also be one reason the real-life Oher has been noticeably absent from the studio’s publicity machine).

Nearly everything in “The Blind Side” is incredibly easy. Issues of assimilation, racial identity and prejudice are glossed over, quickly dismissed or ignored altogether. What I can only imagine were huge hurdles for the Tuohy family are often tidily handled.

Take, for instance, the fact that the Tuohys have a teen daughter who is slightly younger than Michael. When Leigh Anne (Oscar nominee Sandra Bullock) asks her daughter, Collins, if she is uncomfortable having Michael in the house, the girl replies that all the people making jokes at school are being stupid. Cut to her friends snickering in the school library when Michael walks in and Collins leaving them to join Michael at his table. Problem solved, or avoided?

“The Blind Side” offers every single heroic moment that may have taken place in this true story, but not the times of real doubt and struggle that surely came before. It is the opposite approach of that taken by the similarly themed “Precious,” a fellow Best Picture nominee. That rough, graphic and notably less financially successful movie – about an obese, illiterate 16-year-old girl trapped in an abusive home - is all struggle, with a minimally happy ending.

Ultimately, “The Blind Side” presents a misleading portrait of Christianity as a religion free of trials and tribulations. According to the picture, being a Christian means having a lot of money, wearing a cross around your neck and plucking an impoverished kid from the projects on your way home from lunch with your society friends. But is living a faithful life this sunny, this simplistic?

Obviously I’m in the minority on this one. Did “The Blind Side” rub anyone else the wrong way? Those of you who loved the movie, what am I missing?

Topics: Movies