Michael Oher's Accusations Against The Tuohy Family & 'The Blind Side' Prove That Hollywood Should Let Black People Tell Their Own Stories

Oher's allegations prove that it's time Hollywood moves past the "white savior" trope.

Michael Oher, Sandra Bullock, Leigh Anne Tuohy Keith Allison, CC BY-SA 2.0 / Wikimedia Commons; Everett Collection, Joe Seer / Shutterstock

Michael Oher, the subject of the 2009 movie "The Blind Side," has come forward with allegations against the Tuohy family and how he was depicted in the movie.

"The Blind Side," which starred Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy, the matriarch of the Tuohy family, grossed an estimated $300 million at the box office, and while the film was well-received by both critics and moviegoers, there were many people who accused the film of falling into the "white savior" trope.


Now, with Oher's allegations and pending lawsuit against the Tuohy family, it's proof that Hollywood's long list of movies that promote white saviorism does nothing but harm the Black people whose stories are often trivialized and taken advantage of.

Oher accused the Tuohy family of taking advantage of his career and life.

According to NBC News, Oher alleges that Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy, who took him in as a teenager, misled him into believing that they had adopted him, and instead placed him in a conservatorship.

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"The Blind Side," which was based on the Michael Lewis book of the same name, followed Oher’s life as a homeless child through his college football career and eventual NFL stardom, with the help of the Tuohy family.

The Tuohys allegedly negotiated a deal with 20th Century Fox that left Oher without any money for the use of his name, likeness, and life story, while the Tuohy family received $225,000 and 2.5% of the film’s net earnings. Instead, the Tuohy family used the conservatorship placed on Oher without his knowledge to make money off of him and strip away his legal rights.

In Oher's 2011 memoir, "I Beat the Odds: From Homelessness, to The Blind Side, and Beyond," Oher said the Tuohys told him conservatorship and adoption were almost identical. “They explained to me that it means pretty much the exact same thing as ‘adoptive parents’, but that the laws were just written in a way that took my age into account,” he wrote.

Oher has also spoken out against the inaccurate deception of his character in "The Blind Side," claiming that the film hurt his career during an interview with ESPN in 2015, by portraying him as less intelligent and exaggerating certain circumstances of his upbringing.


"People look at me, and they take things away from me because of a movie. They don't really see the skills and the kind of player I am," Oher said.

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Oher's allegations against the Tuohy family and 'The Blind Side' prove that Hollywood's 'white savior' trope is nothing but harmful.

While "The Blind Side" performed well at the box office, the "white savior" trope and the many negative racial stereotypes associated with the film put a bad taste in many people's mouths, especially Black people, who are more than tired of seeing these types of films being made.

The "white savior" trope refers to a common narrative device in which a white character, typically from a privileged background, takes on the role of saving or helping a marginalized person or community, often portrayed as being incapable of helping themselves.


There is, unfortunately, a long list of movies in Hollywood that fit the white savior trope, including "Remember the Titans," "The Help," "Green Book," and "Freedom Writers," just to name a few. These films all revolve around people of color, more specifically Black people, but instead of their stories being highlighted, their white counterparts are made to seem like heroes.

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The problem with this trope is that it reinforces an outdated and harmful stereotype that marginalized communities are unable to improve their own situations without the intervention of a white character.

Hollywood creates these movies and, by doing so, many of these Black characters, who are often based on real people, are made to seem desperate, stupid, and incapable, while the white characters are kind, and supportive — becoming the voice of a community when they shouldn't be.


These cookie-cutter movies do a massive disservice to uplifting Black stories and are only made to absolve white people of their guilt and make them feel better.

Racism is a deeply ingrained and complex system that operates on individual, systemic, and structural levels. The white savior trope does nothing but oversimplify racism and suggests that one person's well-intentioned actions can magically solve deeply rooted systemic problems.

There are so many ways that Hollywood can do better when it comes to addressing these social justice issues and making sure Black people are allowed the space to tell their own stories how they should be told.


Oher's courage in speaking out against the inaccuracies in his depiction and his pursuit of justice serve as an inspiration to challenge the status quo. Instead of watching films such as "The Blind Side," we should be turning to creating more authentic stories that move away from the white savior trope.

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Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.