I recoiled when I saw the poster for The Blind Side. I didn't read the book, but I did read the excerpt in the NY Times, which I liked a lot because Michael Lewis is, well, brilliant. But when I found out the film was coming all I could think was "No way am I seeing that." To some extent I think it has to do with a longstanding beef about how blacks show up in movies. So many of our roles involve us as these kind of disconnected aliens without much attachment to a community. In a lot of those roles we're often "saved" by the benevolence of white folks.
Denzel is probably one of the most popular black men in black America, and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that, in his movies, he so often has his ties to black people on display. His wife is usually black, or he may have kids or a brother who's black. In The Pelican Brief he even rocked the Howard Law sweat-shirt. The sense has been that, though he's walking into the world of "them," he's always repped for "us." He's always been about demonstrating that there's a black community that produced him.
It's not fair to bring that kind of prejudice, or these kinds of expectations, to bear on The Blind Side. First and foremost, there is no one story, no one kind of narrative. Everyone doesn't find that kind of support in their community. Some people are, indeed, "saved" by white folks. (You could make an argument for me.) People have the right to tell those stories. I do think, to an extent, this is about how whites often encounter blacks--as individuals and not in the presence of their full community. More than that, I think it's about how I see the world, and the desire to see films that reflect that.
But like I said, it isn't right to put that sort of pressure on people who are just trying to tell a story. If I don't like it, I should go tell my own. Meh. I guess I have to go see the film, now.
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