Err…I really liked The Blind Side but I have a kind of latent awareness that I shouldn’t over think my like for it. It’s the same thing with Law Abiding Citizen. And lately, most every Hollywood flick, glossy, gritty, or otherwise.
There has been a trend-I can’t prove it or anything, I can’t do anything beyond a hypothesis-where increasingly, films that seem to address real problems have been gaining popularity, winning awards and stuff. I just get a sense that beneath the very sincere, erudite themes they carry, such films do not actually contain any substance or depth that can measure up to that noble theme.
It’s all so wispy I don’t know how to articulate it.
But it’s bad! It’s very insidious!! The result of this is an aggravation of our collective twofold ignorance where 1. we are ignorant 2. we think we’re so very culturally/racially/societally sensitive. Worse, they make stereotypes more entrenched and serve to define societal roles of givers and receivers according to the convenience of the givers. I think the point we need to learn and retain is that we can never really understand the ‘other’ and much less through a 3 hour flick. But these films approach with the attitude that we have already understood their needs and here is what some people have done to make a change.
I’m not discrediting the work of the Touhys. I sincerely admire them for what they have done. In my eyes, they are true helpers because they do not merely help in ways convenient to them. In all their efforts, they have shown great sensitivity to Michael’s needs as a human, and not just a charity case. I wish I had a heart like Leigh Anne’s.
On the part of the director, I do not willfully think that he has attempted anything other than to capture the inspiration of the story in the most authentic way. But somehow, I think the film has failed precisely in its instructiveness. Of course, here, I am striving for an ideal that is impossible to attain. But the lens through which one must view the ‘other’ and the kind of framing inevitable due to a positional disparity nags at me.
I do not think that John Lee Hancock has done this intentionally. Moreover, he could not have achieved this ideal even if he tried. But beneath the sincerity and the real attempt to empathize, the film still projects a very subtle sense of dynamics between the helper and the helped. (Basically, don’t you get the feeling that when the ‘rich’ person ‘helps’ the ‘poor’, he is oh-so-noble and we should respect him and blah blah blah and what about the ‘poor’ person? He still has no personality beyond his destitution, no affection aroused in us beyond ‘so poor thing’.) So subtle in fact, that it is precisely what makes the effect insidious. It alleviates our guilt through a ‘by association’ rationalization on our part and paralyses us beyond talking about such ‘issues’. And then we come to this misguided notion that we have done much. But at the end of the day, we have come no closer to understanding the ‘other’.
And you can say that my verbal diarrhea has been pointless and un-constructive. I still do not know where we should go with this. I do feel passionately though that the very idea of ‘help’ is itself fundamentally oppressive. And it’s been a long time, but I have never for a moment forgotten Howard Becker’s astute question: whose side are we on?