I have been back in forth on whether to write a post about The Blindside. Ultimately, I am choosing not to because there is a plethora of articles on the web about the racial, white-privilege undertones of the film.
However, the issue of White savior stories is still important. Many have tried to articulate that because The Blindside is a true story people should stop complaining about the racial issues. However, that is the exact problem. Most of the true stories about African-Americans (or ethnic-minorities) coming out of negative situation don’t involve White people. Films and books like The Pact, which display the determination of African-Americans without a major White figure in their lives, are not highlighted and these stories are not produced by major film studios and don’t get the literary notoriety. Why? Well, I don’t believe it is because the folks at these studios and publishing companies don’t care, they simply want to make money. People don’t go to see these films or read these books because they don’t have the same type of good feelings appeal, they don’t give the allusion that privileged folks – white or otherwise – must help the impoverished transcend their situation. Why do films like Lean on Me get ignored but Dangerous Minds, though rejected by critics, gaine mass success or why does Erin Gruwell have her story massively publicized through the production of Freedom Writers while Geoffrey Canada ‘s story – no relation – gets little airtime? Just think about it.
It get a little frustrated with SNL and Mad TV because they are usually shallow and I find them offensive rather than insightful or comical, but occasionally their parodies are actually good satire. Here is a funny and intelligent skit about White female character’s as saviors.
Like any good satire, it is funny because it is ridiculous, yet true. But like any satire it is supposed to make the viewer change themselves and society, not just laugh. So let’s start supporting more of the true stories of African-Americans not just the ones that make White people look good.
Don’t get me wrong, I value what White people do in African-American communities, but when we only highlight those stories, it gives the perception that African-Americans cannot overcome situations without White folks. I don’t want movies like Blindside to not be produced, I want to see more movies produced that show the reality of African-American transcendence of poverty and social oppression.
The larger issue of all of these “inspirational” stories, whether casted with a White lead, Black lead or otherwise, is that most true stories about African-Americans and other ethnic-minorities don’t involve coming out of poverty or socially difficult situations. Most true stories are just about life. I would ultimately like to see more films that don’t focus on the misfortune of ethnic-minorities. We need balance.