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Movie Critique of The Blind Side

A few days ago, I went to the movies and saw The Blind Side as an assignment for class. I had to write a critique of this movie in terms of “EQ” and “overcoming prejudice”. I looked forward to seeing it as I had heard the news of famous actress Sandra Bullock receiving the Academy Award for Best Actress as a result of her outstanding performance in this film.

This movie is based on Michael Lewis's 2006 best-seller The Blind Side: Evolution of the Game dealing with the true story of football star Michael Oher. The title of the movie The Blind Side has two different meanings. It means a quarterback’s dead zone, which the left tackle has to protect in football, and the dead zone of good intentions, which we just pass by carelessly.

The movie gained public favor as a well-made masterpiece in the US. It racked up $34 million in 3,110 theaters over a three-day weekend. It climbed to number two at the box office during the second week, recording $400 million, and topped the box office in the third week. In addition, as mentioned earlier, Sandra Bullock, who starred in the movie as a spirited mother, received the Academy Award as well as a Golden Globe Award, beating other top-rated candidates.
The film's main character is a black teenager, Michael Oher, whose father was murdered and mother was a junkie. He lived from hand to mouth, often without any place to sleep. The other main characters are a white couple. One cold night, the couple saw Michael walking along the street wearing a short sleeved T-shirt and brought him to their home. They ended up adopting him.

After the adoption, Leigh Anne and Sean provided him with a loving home, hiring a private tutor to help him with this studies and nurturing his athletic talent. Thanks to his new family’s love and support, Michael did his best in school as well as in sports. He became one of the top American high school football players and was recruited by a major college football team. At last, he was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens, a professional football team, in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft.

As shown in the movie, Michael is black and weighs over 155kg. His father was murdered, and his mother is addicted to drugs. He has such a humble background that many people would probably avoid him if he attached his personal facts on his back. For example, the teachers at the prestigious Christian school that he attended showed this kind of prejudice when considering him for admission. They doubted his academic ability based on his humble background, low grades, and low IQ. However, Michael eventually overcame this prejudice, graduated from high school, and had a lasting impact on the lives of his teachers. What really enabled him to achieve such a great feat?

I found the answer from Michael’s EQ. EQ stands for “emotional quotient”. People who have a high EQ have three kinds of personality traits: they show a high level of patience, can manage their anger effectively, and typically have amicable relationships with others.

The first characteristic is clearly demonstrated by Dr. Walter Michel’s research on “deferred gratification”, the so-called “marshmallow test” experiment. In this experiment, the subject children were left alone in a room under the condition that they sit in front of a marshmallow. If they were able to wait for 20 minutes without eating it, they could get one more marshmallow. This experiment suggests that the children who get one more marshmallow by waiting 20 minutes are more likely to succeed in society when they grow up than the kids who eat the marshmallow immediately. It is important that the children who wait have a high EQ. Likewise, Michael is also like the kid who waits 20 minutes. In other words, he has a high EQ. Even through the pressure of adverse circumstances, he controlled his emotions well, rather than blaming his surroundings or going astray when compared to one of his friends, a drug dealer, who grew up with Michael in Memphis, Tennessee. Michael's high degree of emotional control can be seen by the way he adapts to life at Wingate School, where he faces the limitations of the “white wall”. This helps him to overcome the prejudices commonly held toward male black teenagers: arrogance, violence, and antisocial behavior. He ended up becoming a successful sports star thanks to the love and concern of the Tuohy family who recognized his potential soon after they welcomed him to their home.

As the movie progresses, Michael’s EQ is developed. At first, Michael greeted young girls at school with an expressionless face, so the girls fled terrified. He didn’t shed tears when his father died. Also, when he went back home to see his mother, his friend, the drug dealer, picked a fight with Michael, but he never looked displeased. He is excellent at emotional control, but poor at emotional expression. However, due to the Tuohy family, Michael changed. He developed a softer face, enough so to push a little girl's swing and get along with her, and he turned out to be a great left tackle because Leigh Anne said that he has to protect football players as he would the Tuohys. At the end, when his drug dealer friend insulted the Tuohys, he fought him fiercely. This shows that he changed from being a person who withdrew himself because of a lack of unconditional love and attention in childhood to a person who can give love.
This movie has been criticized for changing Michael Oher’s incredible life into a Hollywood fairy tale. However, to me, this movie actually focuses on the unprejudiced kindness of a typical white American Christian woman.

But what we have to think about in this movie is Leigh Anne’s comment that Michael changed her rather than she changed him, and the ironic setup in this movie that Michael, who was on the “blind side” of good and stayed out of the public eye, took the position of left tackle that protects the dead zone of the quarterback, the most important position in football. That is to say human beings are valuable in protecting each other’s blind sides regardless of race and wealth. Another important point is the power to overcome prejudices in society. It comes from Michael’s high EQ, in terms of his ability to control his emotions. It enables him to preserve his purity in adverse circumstances. With the love of Leigh Anne who recognizes his traits, he opens up and shows the world his amazing inner beauty, warmth, and perseverance.

Lee Jae-hwan  woghks1318@hanmail.net

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