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The Blind Side critics highlight long-standing issue with ‘white saviour’ movie after Michael Oher lawsuit

Former NFL star says he was ‘devastated’ after discovering his ‘adoption was a lie’

Jacob Stolworthy
Wednesday 16 August 2023 05:08 BST
The Blind Side trailer

The Blind Side critics are stepping in to highlight a long-standing issue with the film, following Michael Oher’s claim that the real-life Tuohy family exploited him.

On Monday (14 August), the former NFL star filed a lawsuit alleging that the story told in the movie, which won Sandra Bullock a Best Actress Oscar, was a fabrication, and that the white couple who brought him into their home made millions from his name.

Oher claims that Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy never actually adopted him. He alleges that, three months after he turned 18 in 2014, the couple got him to sign a document that named them as his conservators, and therefore legally able to make financial deals in his name.

The sports star has also accused the couple of signing a deal that earnt them and their two biological children a significant sum for the film adaptation, which made more than $300m upon its release in 2009.

Following the claims, The Blind Side’s reputation has been called into question, with many fans of the film now saying they will no longer re-watch the film.

Critics who spoke out against the film at the time, branding it a “white saviour movie”, are now suggesting that the film and its source material, a book of the same name by Michael Lewis, would have been better if it focused on Oher, instead of the Tuohys.

“I am so upset that this happened / is happening to Michael Oher but Black people have been screaming about how s***ty this story is for years and I’m not surprised to learn it was all a scam because f***ing OBVIOUSLY,” @nknapper wrote, adding: “Just like ALL white savior narratives are a scam.”

Andy Jenck wrote: “In his [autobiography], Oher writes [he] was displeased with film depiction in how dependent he was on the Tuohys and I wondered why Blind Side didn’t consult more with him. I might have [an] answer now.”

Sandra Bullock attends the premiere of ‘The Blind Side’ at the Ziegfeld Theatre on November 17, 2009 (Getty Images)

Meanwhile, X user @WriteAsRae commented: “Where have you guys BEEN???? Michael Oher told us a decade ago that The Blind Side was completely fictitious. The only ppl who believed it in its entirety were white ppl that still subscribe to the concept of ‘saving the unfortunate black kids from da ghetto’ [sic].”

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During an interview with CBS Sports Network earlier this month, Oher himself accused the film of “taking away the hard-work and the dedication that I curated” by depicting him as so reliant on the Tuohys.

Oher also said the film was inaccurate for showing him “not being able to read or write”, as “in second grade I was doing plays in front of the school”.

He claimed that this alleged misrepresentation led to his fellow NFL players making incorrect assumptions about his intellect.

“That weighs heavy on someone,” he said, adding: “I understand the movie has given me a position, but... I want the generations to come behind me to understand that you don’t have to come have someone save you and rescue you to go out and be successful.”


Court documents state that Oher discovered he was not legally adopted in February 2023.

“The lie of Michael’s adoption is one upon which Co-Conservators Leigh Anne Tuohy and Sean Tuohy have enriched themselves at the expense of their Ward, the undersigned Michael Oher,” the document says.

“Michael Oher discovered this lie to his chagrin and embarrassment in February of 2023, when he learned that the Conservatorship to which he consented on the basis that doing so would make him a member of the Tuohy family, in fact provided him no familial relationship with the Tuohys.”

Attorney J Gerard Stranch IV said: “When the Tuohy family told Mike they loved him and wanted to adopt him, it filled a void that had been with him his entire life. Discovering that he wasn’t actually adopted devastated Mike and wounded him deeply.”

Defending their decision not to legally adopt Oher, Sean Tuohy said: “We contacted lawyers who had told us that we couldn’t adopt over the age of 18; the only thing we could do was to have a conservatorship. We were so concerned it was on the up-and-up that we made sure the biological mother came to court.

He also said “we didn’t make any money off the movie,” adding: “Well, Michael Lewis, gave us half of his share. Everybody in the family got an equal share, including Michael. It was about $14,000 each.”

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