Racial Stereotypes And White Privilege In The Blind Side

Images, spoken words and written text can all be used to represent the world. As media has the ability to influence minds, representations allow individuals to give meaning and value to the world. However, discourses can be used to process the representations. “The basis for our actions (Rose (2016):190) It is possible to build multiple representations from the same context in order to create an argument. This essay will explore how discourses are legitimate and reproduce or challenge social power relations. This will be illustrated by a case study film called “The Blind Side”. This essay argues that the Blind side perpetuates negative stereotypes about African Americans and space, while idolizing white Americans. The essay demonstrates how success can only be achieved with the support of white people and white practices that are viewed as normal. This film reflects both the identities and classes of each race.

The film ‘The Blind Side’ was made in Atlanta in 2009. John Lee, a white American, was the film’s producer. He grew up near Austin, Texas. His social profile differs from Michael Other’s, who is a lower-class African American. This could suggest that he isn’t well-versed in African American culture. John Lee is well-known for his sports drama films like ‘The Rookie,’ and Saving MR Banks,’ (Burris (2014). The Bind Side is a genre of drama and sport that is inspired by a true story. It is about Michael Other, an African-American boy from lower class who is traumatized by growing up in a city. This gang-populated urban area is home to many African Americans. Michael does not know his dad’s identity and is homeless because of the drug addiction of his mother. Michael’s life changes when he is taken in by an upper-class, wealthy white family. He is now free from the city and its practices. He changes schools, finds a loving home, gets a car and is educated. The film is described as a boy who went from “rags-to-riches (Pimentel, Santillanes,2014:126)”. The Blind Side was also released in the same year that Baraka Barack Obama became President. Potentially influencing how the film was made. White Americans are shown throughout the film as normal, wealthy, hardworking and generous. Black African Americans, on the other hand, are lazy, reckless, uninformed, and criminals who live in urban hoods. Michael Other was the main character in the film. He is an unprepared, childlike character that doesn’t know what he wants and follows the example of his drug-addict mother. The film ends with him becoming a loving, inspirational, caring, successful boy thanks to the support of the white community. Lianne Tuohy is another character. She is an independent, strong woman who takes Michael under her wing and leads him to success. She is the ‘heroin’ of the film, who assumes a motherly position to Michael. The film cost 29 million. It became an Oscar-winning Hollywood movie. The film’s popularity and success are revealed. The film was produced to inspire others. The Blind Side shows how an African American boy who comes from a poor background becomes a successful person. However, this portrayal of the American dream is flawed because Michael Other can only achieve success in life by being adopted by a family of white people, learning their ways and getting into their lives. Inequality exists because lower-class African Americans are unable to achieve the American Dream without being surrounded by white Americans. This is why the master code can be found throughout the Blind side. The blind side has a sub-code called “white hero”. The scene in which Lianne Tuohy observes Michael wandering alone at night without a place to turn is a good example of this. The scene shows Michaels neglect by his community and how he feels abandoned by the state. Here Lianne is the white hero. Lianne shows society how she can help people by giving Michael a place to sleep. The Tuohys then adopt Michael for a night. Michael then begins to learn about the ‘norms, practices and beliefs of white Americans. For example, how to dress and education. This is what leads him to a successful football career. This is linked to the theory of social constructionism, which explains how identities don’t stay fixed and can change according to the social structures around them (Horton & Kraftl, 2014). Michael left the Ghetto to become more influenced and inspired by the White Community. This helped him succeed since he was no longer restricted in the Ghetto due to ghetto-style practices, such violence and crime, that hampered him. This shows how the essentialism view about how identities can be fixed is challenged. Michaels class has transformed from a lower-class boy through social constructivism. The family of Lianne had to help Michael to ‘escape’ the ghetto. This could signal that it is impossible to be successful in the ghetto. This is due to the fact that they are unable to succeed in urban settings such as crime, violence, gangs. This is evident in the fact that no other African American living in the ghetto was considered successful. The film Coach carter also portrays the message of “the blind side”. It also features lower-class Black Americans who are removed from ghetto practice. Their lives are changed and they succeed in basketball. This could help create a narrative about how you can’t succeed if you live in the ghetto. A film showing the same knowledge can influence an audience more than a film that has less control.

The film reproduces power and dominance relationships in society. Because marginalised groups like African Americans may perceive white superiority negatively, making them feel powerless. This representation could influence them to believe it is true. They might feel ashamed of themselves and be forced to rely upon the white Americans who are more successful (Benshoff, Griffin, 2009). As they believe they are in a better position, the dominant group of white Americans can continue to be dominant. This representation, while it does help society address social problems such as inequality, isn’t helping. If you take one person of lower socioeconomic status out of the Ghetto, there will still be inequalities. The blindside shows how urban identities and places are dangerous. This is because of individuals who are in gangs, have no purpose in their lives and are unable to achieve success. This refers both to space, location and identities. The film has made all African Americans feel inferior in urban ghettos. White Americans, on the other hand, are held to higher-class rural communities. As shown in figure …., most urban scenes use dark lighting. This created a negative and dangerous atmosphere. This makes the contrast between classes even more obvious to the audience. It is said that African Americans and their spaces are frequently depicted as “An Urban Wild Kingdom, the Setting of Serial Tragdies, Composed of Inner-City Drug Dealers and Gangsters.” The Blind Side also shows this representation of African Americans. Lianne and Michael go to the Ghetto to get Michael new clothes. Lianne holds Michael tightly and says, “Been here all my life and never been anywhere else near here,” while stating, “You’re going to take good care of me.” Lianne portrays the urban ghetto in a dangerous way. She feels that Michael must protect her. This is why African Americans are often portrayed as a dangerous ‘wild kingdom’ with gangsters. She may feel unconfident and not fit in with her surroundings. This could indicate that the environment is not secure. It can also be because it’s difficult to feel comfortable in a situation. The scene where Lianne drives up the ghetto along with Michael is another example of African Americans who have no motives and are gang-orientated. As they drive up to the ghetto, Lianne is confronted with a gang that makes sexual remarks and stares at her. The gang sat at their front yard in the middle-of-the-day, which suggests that they don’t have jobs. First recipients accept ideas, knowledge, opinions, except if they contradict their personal beliefs and experiences. These people will assume that all urban spaces are the same as these people, even if they have never been in one. These people and places will be viewed as dangerous, which will result in a resistance. This reinforces the idea that African Americans tend to be lazy and dangerous people with no purpose in their lives. Stereotyping people can impact how they react to these groups. This could result in discrimination because they are perceived as dangerous. Potentially being ignored by non African Americas. This is a theory which states that an identity cannot relate to another identity. This happens mainly to less powerful identities, which is why they are socially marginalized. (Horton und Kraftl 2014. As a result, the negative stereotypes of African Americans create power relations and disempower them. As non-African Americans are more likely to live in a space where they can relate to one another, this could potentially lead to segregation. There are however, representations that challenge stereotypical African American views. Michael Other is an example of a successful, kindhearted, and motivated man. The stereotype is not universally accepted by African Americans. This shows how African Americans have the potential to be empowered and challenge existing power relations. Michael was only able to learn these morals. He is now able to succeed by leaving the ghetto. To be successful, you need to “escape” from the urban gritty. The Blind side perpetuates power and dominance within society, as it concludes. This can be seen in the film’s portrayal of White Americans as the dominant group and their empowerment throughout the film. They are also shown to be higher-ranking members of society and how African Americans depend on them to succeed. The film does not address the social inequality problem, but only shows how to help someone in need. This allows white superiority and the preservation of the inequality gap to be maintained, making it possible for the saving the lower classes.



Kayla Russo is an educational blogger and volunteer and student. She is a 27 yo educational blogger and volunteer and student who loves to help others learn.

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