Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sandra Bullock's "The Blind Side" Victory



The success of The Blind Side is very pleasing. The movie --about a well-off conservative Christian woman who takes in and eventually adopts a homeless black teenager, who develops into an NFL player -- is what Hollywood calls a family film. But, as Kim Masters explains on The Daily Beast, the film almost didn't get made because it was something that Hollywood didn't know how to handle: A film with a strong, middle-aged female lead, a black co-star, and no explosions.

Others have noted an additional factor that made the film an unlikely success. The most important is that it's a film that is having its greatest success in the South and the Midwest, where moviegoers aren't scared off by watching a church-going family (they see them every day, they are them every day, what's the big deal?). Hollywood doesn't generally do well portraying evangelical Christians (and, let's face it, evangelical Christians have often been their own worst enemies when it comes to establishing a national image). In typical movies, these folks are either Bible-thumping crazies or they are sickly sweet sources of truth (if the movies made by or for the evangelical market, that is). This movie shows the Touhy family as it apparently is in real life, and which even honest secularists need to admit is not a complete anomaly: An honest, fun, good-hearted family.

No, I'm not a conservative evangelical. No, I'm not even an evangelical. But I hate laziness in culture and politics. I grew up in the upper midwest, going to relatively liberal Methodist churches each week (Sunday school and service on Sundays, choir practice on Wednesdays, and often visits on Saturday to prepare for a church play or repaint the youth group room), and I know there are lots of people who take their faith very seriously, who would give the shirts off their backs to someone in need, would never dream of shoving religion down someone else's throat, and who are largely invisible because Hollywood doesn't know how to tell stories involving such people.

I'll get off my soapbox. But only after I add a shout-out to Blind Side star Sandra Bullock; it's great to see her at the top this year.
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