Movies & TV

The Blind Side Controversy Explained

Here's Why The Blind Side is controversial at the moment.

Remember The Blind Side, the sports drama movie that, filmed on a budget of $29m, went on to make over ten times that at the box office? Whether or not you do, you can’t have missed the recent controversy surrounding this 2009 movie. So if you’re wondering just what’s going on, here’s The Blind Side controversy explained.

Here’s Why The Blind Side is Generating Controversy

If you’ve not seen the movie, I’ll give you a short recap. Based on the book of the same name, it’s about African-American footballer Michael Oher’s youth, as he struggles with poverty and a drug-addict mother. Sandra Bullock plays Leigh Anne Tuohy who, along with her husband Sean, adopted Oher and supported him.

The movie has a typically wholesome Hollywood ending, with Oher heading off to college. There’s footage of the real Michael Oher and plenty of upbeat music, you know the thing.

The Blind Side went on to make over $300m at the box office. And while Quinton Aaron, who played Oher, didn’t win an award, Bullock won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and a SAG award. The movie won an award or two, including the “Epiphany Prize for Inspiring Movies.”

Doesn’t that make you feel all warm and fuzzy? Sure, Oher hasn’t played in the NFL in nearly ten years but at least with all this movie money he’s got something to fall back on, right? You might want to strap yourself in because this is where it gets depressing.

According to Oher, he’s never received a penny of the movie’s profits which, even if you factor in marketing, has to be at least $200m. Instead, he’s filed a lawsuit against the couple who he claims tricked him into a ‘conservatorship’ instead of adopting him. He claims they were making business deals in his name, which he wasn’t party to.

What is a Conservatorship and Why Does it Matter?

A conservatorship essentially gives a person, or persons, legal and financial guardianship over an adult. As explained by SmartAsset, the scale of conservatorships can vary from limited through to full but “..a conservator has full authority over the relevant aspects of their conservatee’s life.”

So, according to this definition, the Tuohys could have had full control over Oher’s legal and financial affairs. If that situation, and the word conservatorship, sounds familiar, it’s probably because of the much-publicised situation that Britney Spears found herself in.

However, the Tuohys have denied the allegations, stating that “The idea that the Tuohys have ever sought to profit off Mr. Oher is not only offensive, it is transparently ridiculous”.

Leigh Ann Tuohy (who also runs a charitable foundation for underprivileged kids) has referred to Oher as adopted, as in this interview posted on her own website. That’s one of the things Oher takes issue with in his filing, which also alleges the Tuohys were paid over $200,000 each for the movie, plus a 2.5% share of future revenue.

He also talks about having signed away his likeness rights, generally suggesting he was taken advantage of. You can find the filing here though since it’s not easily searchable, so be prepared to have a cup of coffee or six on hand.

Michael Lewis, who wrote the book the movie was based on, has blamed the Hollywood system, suggesting that Oher join the ongoing strikes. Sandra Bullock, who plays Leigh Ann Tuohy in the movie, has said she’s heartbroken over the situation. 

Who’s in the right, if anyone? We may not find out for quite some time. We may not find out at all, if this whole affair is settled behind closed doors. And that’s what you need to know about The Blind Side controversy.

About the author

Chris McMullen
Freelance contributor at The Escapist. I've returned to writing about games after a couple of career changes, with my recent stint lasting five-plus years. I hope, through my writing work, to settle the karmic debt I incurred by persuading my parents to buy a Mega CD. Aside from writing for The Escapist, I also cover news and more for GameSpew. I've also been published at other sites including VG247, Space, and more. My tastes run to horror, the post-apocalyptic, and beyond, though I'll tackle most things that aren't exclusively sports-based.