Following Michael Oher’s disturbing accusations about his adoptive parents, people are reevaluating their view of The Blind Side, the 2009 movie based on his life.
Starring Sandra Bullock and Quinton Aaron, The Blind Side covered Oher’s journey from poverty to NFL stardom. Seen by many as a feel-good story, it begins with Oher living in foster care and struggling at school. His life turns around when he is mentored and then adopted by a prosperous white couple who nurture his athletic abilities.
But Oher now claims this story is partially false. In a new lawsuit, Oher accused his “adoptive parents” Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy of tricking him and faking the adoption.
Instead, they established a conservatorship over Oher – and according to him, this let them exploit his career and life story. Crucially, while an adoption would make Oher a member of the Tuohy family, a conservatorship is a different legal relationship. It gave the Tuohys authority over Oher’s financial affairs as an adult. Oher now alleges that the Tuohys profited from The Blind Side while he didn’t see a dime – which Sean Tuohy denies.
The Blind Side was already controversial due to its portrayal of the relationship and racial dynamics between Oher and the Tuohys. Some critics found the film racist, and Oher has long objected to its depiction of his personality and intelligence. This lawsuit casts the situation in an even uglier light.
This reevaluation has also led to an unexpected defense of Sandra Bullock. While a few people singled Bullock out as the Oscar-winning star of The Blind Side – ie. another wealthy white person who profited from Oher’s story – others argue that she has nothing to do with any potential exploitation.
This wouldn’t be the first time a “based on a true story” movie turned out to be less than true. But while some actors and filmmakers should have known better (for instance, everyone involved in the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos movie), there’s no evidence that Sandra Bullock had reason to disbelieve the original Blind Side narrative back in 2009.
The film was based on a nonfiction book, The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis. And since Lewis was Sean Tuohy’s high school classmate, Oher’s accusations invite questions about Lewis’s potential biases and fact-checking process when writing the book.
If people focus on Sandra Bullock’s role in this saga, they ultimately draw attention away from the real subjects of the lawsuit.