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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Blindside and Cynicism

Intro: There will be a bit of a spoiler here so if you're planning on watching the Blindside please proceed with caution.

The Blindside is the best movie I've seen in a long time. I enjoyed it so much that I can't remember the last time I saw a better movie. For all those not familiar with the story, the Blindside is the true story of Michael Oher. He is currently finishing up his rookie year with the Baltimore Ravens. Until he was sixteen, he bounced around from one foster home to another. He was living the way too typical wrong side of the tracks story. In fact, by the time he was sixteen, he was living on the streets. Then fate stepped in. He was taken in by the Tuohy family. The Tuohy's are a wealthy family from the good part of Memphis, where the movie and true story are set. Oher became a part of the family. Despite never having a stable home life, and so presumably good diet, Oher was always freakishly big. So, he went out for football and eventually became very good. He became a top recruit and eventually an All American at the University of Mississippi.

In the movie, the NCAA investigated Oher's recruitment to the University of Mississippi because both the Tuohy's were alumni and major donors. In fact, the NCAA considered them boosters. So, the NCAA believed that the Tuohys took in Oher with the intent of grooming him to play football in their alma mater. As I watched the movie, I thought that only an organization as cynical as the NCAA itself could think of something so cynical. For someone to do something so devious isn't merely cynical but simply Psychopathic. To shower someone with love, care, and attention all as part of some larger plot to help their favorite school's sports program really stretches the imagination of deviousness.

The beauty for me of the Blindside was two fold. First, this is a movie in which each and every major character was a good person, a character you root for. Despite this, the movie had plenty of conflict and drama. Second, this is a Christian movie, but subtly so. The reason the Tuohy's did what they did is because they're all good Christian. They truly did love their neighbor as themselves. Religion isn't really in the movie. Instead, their actions exemplify their Christianity. They aren't good Christians because they go to church each Sunday, though I'm sure they do, but because of the way they live their lives.

The NCAA couldn't possibly think that anyone could love a perfect stranger simply because that's the right thing to do. So, the NCAA believed this whole thing was part of a larger plot by the Tuohy's to get Michael Oher to their alma mater.

In dicussing the movie afterwards, I was stunned when a friend told me they didn't like the movie and they told me they didn't like it because it was fake. It was fake, in their minds, because they believed that in real life the Tuohy's did in fact take Michael in to groom him to be a star athlete at their alma mater. As such, the movie was presenting a Cleaver type family when in reality they're all faking it.

Such cynicism is stunning and in fact plain shocking. Some people see so little good themselves that they can't possibly believe when someone does something good just because doing good is the right thing to do. I expect that from the NCAA. That's an organization that long ago lost any sense of right and wrong, if it ever had it. To hear anyone else say something so cynical is just plain scary.

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