Posted on | March 12, 2012 | 30 Comments
I sorta liked this movie. Yet, I was also disturbed by it.
I happen to like Sandra Bullock, even though her taste in men is dreadful. So my criticism is of the film itself, and not her as an actress.
Also, I’ve learned not to expect anything meaningful from Hollywood, especially with movies including black women. For these people, it’s about, “Which stereotypes shall I use today?” Quality drama is reserved for “special” white men, white women and a favored ethnic token or two. The writers, producers and directors will probably never evolve meaningfully or intelligently into viewing non-white women as human beings. Hollywood is composed of limited, talentless, shortsighted creatures – no matter how many Oscars they hand out to themselves as examples of excellence.
They only wish they knew better.
And I know people mean well, but enough with the, “That’s why we gotta make our own films,” mantra. I have no bloody frigging interest in making films. Seriously. I just don’t watch anything they put out if I’m not satisfied. Plenty of Korean dramas, foreign films, and classics to watch, or books to read. End of story.
But I’ll criticize the crap if I want to.
A Familiar Theme
The Blind Side tapped into a familiar storyline that I’ve seen (or heard about) in a number of films or TV shows. Guess what Six Degrees of Separation, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Antwone Fisher and The Blind Side have in common? A young black male gets taken in or is saved by someone. Admirable stories, of course. I applaud those efforts.
I’ve watched a lot of movies – I’ve been searching my frazzled brain – have there been any versions where young black females, alone, no siblings, have been helped? Maybe I missed those nice Lifetime flicks. I’m sure there have been some. How about TV shows? Any major film releases in the last decade? Someone lemme know if you’ve found any. And Precious doesn’t count.
Is it because people have this notion that no one would see a film where a young black girl / woman is taken in and assisted by a wealthy white family? Is it because people realize a white women would see the young black girl / woman as a threat to her stable white family? Maybe she’d end up in the sack with the husband, grandfather, uncles or Gawd Ferbid, her studly sons?
Or is that no one thinks a black girl / woman is worth saving in the first place? Do folks think she will land on her feet like a cat falling off a highrise balcony?
No One Is Coming To Rescue You
The message from those films, and TV shows, I’ve mentioned – like the elimination of black women from history (a la Red Tails) – is that you’ve already been sacrificed. You shouldn’t wait to be rescued, like Antwone Fisher, or any other black male, or white woman, or favorite token ethnic, because no one cares. Those groups are established and recognized “victims”. Black girls / women are not.
Remember that each and every time someone starts a project, foundation, scholarship, or organization to solely benefit black girls / young black women, the inevitable whining begins. But what about my boys? What about black boys? And it needs to be asked, “What about them?” Why is everyone so stingy, mealy mouth, about something just for the girls? If the whiners want change, they can start an organization for their boys, although gazillions of them already exist.
I wonder why there has not been any TV shows, movies or media stories celebrating the taking in and uplifting of a black girl / young black woman? We had The Secret Life of Bees, a story where black women take in a little white girl. Would the movie have been made if she was a black girl? Even in stories where a young black girl is given a home, like in I Can Do Bad All By Myself, it’s done with her male sibling. And predictably someone tries to rape the child. Would the movie have been made if the siblings were girls?
If the young girl is always at threat of being sexually abused, why is she regarded as the problem?
Boys Are Preferred
The reason why movies, TV shows, and media stories focus on the rescued boys is this: they’re “endangered”, more vulnerable than girls, don’t get pregnant, wont seduce your male family members (heh), aren’t a hassle (no worries about sassiness), and at least with the boy, his saviors can get a decent return on their investment if he excels at sports.
Who said it wasn’t a man’s world? Those things right there prove that if a young black male pulled himself together, with plenty of the “right” assistance, he could step higher into mainstream America by virtue of having a penis. There is a support structure in place. Those who whine about, “What about my boy?” miss this fact entirely. His color matters less than if his head(s) is in the right place. Black mothers (and plenty of fathers) seem blind to this opportunity.
Black Girls Be Gone
See how everyone misses the sexism and racism against black girls? No one is thinking of them. It’s always about saving the “brothas”, save the endangered black male, or save our black boys. Worthwhile efforts. Yet, all children need help. Not just one gender.
People ignore the plight of black girls, because they are regarded the same as stray feral cats: able to take care of herself (even at ages as young as 8 years old) and it’s not a topic worth bothering about.
Every movie that pretends to be uplifting, is also in danger of spreading another message that isn’t as compassionate or endearing as they’ve imagined. Some people are likely smeared in the process. Like black women.
The Blind Side was about a “good white Christian” family, specifically a southern woman, taking in a homeless black boy, Michael Oher, (who’s really big, seems mentally slow, but he’s really a gentle giant – think Michael Clarke Duncan in the Green Mile). Throughout the film, I had this imagine of a family seeing a big stray dog by the road, taking it home and not realizing it’s a wolf.
Sandra Bullock’s character had that irritating “white woman’s moxie” that worked my last nerve throughout the film. That whole pushy, obnoxious, y’all gonna do what I say because I am sooooo special routine was so annoying…. But hey, she was doing it for the boy. That po’ boy. She was gonna save him. ‘Cause if he was a homeless she, well, um, things would sort themselves for the girl. Couldn’t bring that home. A black boy, yes. A black girl? Nevah.
Two Sides of the Same Negative Coin
There were two black women in this film. Neither one served in a good light.
Oftentimes on TV shows, or movies, we get the tough talkin’ ball bustin’ black chick who comes in and runs game. Rarely likeable. Rarely attractive. If she is good looking, it’s guaranteed that by time her acting is done, her performance has drained her femininity away. And that’s done on purpose. Some of us are fooled into thinking that’s a power position or a positive thing. Trust me on this one: you’re not being served when presented as the tough talkin’ ball bustin’ black chick who comes in and runs game. That character always has a black woman’s face.
Remember now, it’s called, “Othering”. Don’t ever forget that.
Both Equally Bad: Dark and Light
Michael Oher’s mother was shown in a dark, dank and dilapidated apartment. Of course, she was a shamed-faced crack addict, who had her children taken away. When Sandra Bullock’s character came for him, she passively accepts the “purchase”, oh sorry, releasing of her child to this “good Christian white woman” (GCWW).
The GCWW may have listened to the sorry story of Michael Oher’s momma, but did nothing to offer her help. Hey, we all know by now that a (poor, black) drug addict is a lost cause. And no one is supposed to help a black woman anyway. You’re on your own, pardner.
However, the son is worth something. He could be used for sports. His mother? She done served her purpose. She popped out big boy!
Remember back when the last saving grace of a black mother was that she’d do everything for her children? Now, that’s even been taken away. A GCWW makes a far superior mother as well.
The image of black motherhood, black womanhood and self-sufficiency has been completely tarnished.
On the flip side, we get a light and bright black woman who’s brought in, by the NCAA, to interrogate Michael Oher’s decision to attend good ole Miss (segregation history). I believe he was interrogated, but by a black woman? Pshaw. Gimme a break.
But the movie required that an evil tough talkin’ ball bustin’ black chick comes in and runs game. Hate those characters. Hate ‘em all. These mannish black women roles have to end. Let white women keep them.
Oh, and that “mean black woman” is edjumacated, articulate, smart and very bitchy.
They put her and Oher in a nice bright room. And she attacks him like a hungry feral cat. She’s cold, offers no comfort, and doesn’t behave like an ally. The assumption is that a man (white, black or other) would have some sympathy for Michael. But by having that “mean black woman” we see how they are presented as being in the way of this young black man.
Did You Get The Message? Black Women Are in the Way of Black Male Progress
Michael Oher’s first impediment in life was his mother. I’m sure if the movie had time for more they would have tossed in more black women who get in his way. The last hurdle was the NCAA interrogator. If she stops him – his ability to play football and his new life would be hampered.
Way to go black women!
And who showed the black male the way forward? Those GCWW. Showing him what a real mother is like, what a real wife is like, what a real sister is like, what a real nurturing spirit is like, what a real woman is like, and what real femininity is like. So good, that women like her would make an excellent wife.
Lemme recap real quick: this movie made a deep comparison between two sets of women. The GCWW and white “sister” versus the crack head black “mother” and black corporate ball buster.
Guess what black women: you lost. And I bet you weren’t even paying attention, because Michael’s story was so “uplifting” and “wonderful”.
In Summary: Separate Shouldn’t Require Elimination
We have, in theory, talked about black women (who are “free”) moving out of the regressive, dwindling, faux or non-existent “black community” to integrate with the rest of society to improve their lives and explore it to the fullest extent.
I’d say black men have been freely doing it for years. However, the media has made it quite clear you, black women, were dumped curbside quite a while ago. The message is that it is the black male who is better off without you. Somehow, if he’s not succeeding, it’s your fault, whether he’s family or a stranger.
I don’t know about you, but I find that to be a dangerous message. I hope it wont be repeated.
It’s different to want to disengage and live the way you see fit – as a black woman. That’s different than messages sent via film that black males aren’t succeeding, because black women (family or not) are crippling or denying him access to a better life.
And we often hesitate to push back against any message that seems anti-black woman, due to not wanting to be viewed as hampering black male achievement. But it doesn’t have to be an either or situation. Black men aren’t the least bit worried about the well being of black women. Frankly, they’re running full tilt somewhere else. Try visiting an all white “hipster” club and watch the usual 2-4 negroes freak out. How dare you intrude into their special space and have a social life? They’ve made it clear that they don’t respect you.
Besides, other folks will take care of him, which takes a load off your back….
So, let’s not be blindsided anymore, black women. Be an advocate for yourself. Be an advocate for young black girls.