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This article looks at the Hollywood “blockbuster” movie The Blind Side (2009) to explore intersections of race, class, and gender in a significant neoliberal, cultural commodity. Animating the production and, apparently, the consumption of the film is the “inspiring” story of Michael Oher, an impoverished young African American man who was adopted by a wealthy white family and rose to success in the National Football League in the United States. The film mobilizes postracial and postfeminist discourses to tell a story of redemption and how private charity can overcome social problems that the state cannot. Ultimately, charity operates as a signifying act of whiteness that obscures the social relations of domination that not only make charity possible but also creates an urban underclass in need of charity.
Montez de Oca is with the Sociology Department, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, CO.