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Rushing to judgment

The Blind Side Evolution of a Game Michael Lewis W.W. Norton: 300 pp., $24.95

October 08, 2006|Steve Almond | Steve Almond is the author of several books, including the story collections "My Life in Heavy Metal" and "The Evil B.B. Chow."

As I tore through the book, I kept wondering how Lewis got such remarkable access to the Tuohys; and I also wondered, why does he take such an uncritical view of their role? The author's note at the end provides the obvious explanation, stating that Lewis is a friend of Sean Tuohy's and that they had been longtime classmates at the same New Orleans school.

The Tuohys eventually persuade Oher to attend their alma mater, Ole Miss, where football players have to "go through the tedious charade of pretending to be ordinary college students" to get their shot at the NFL. Lewis doesn't dwell on the cynicism of this arrangement, either. He is too determined to paint Oher as a heroic figure. "The world that had once taken no notice of Michael Oher was now so invested in him that it couldn't afford to see him fail," he insists. The problem is, that Lewis never bothers to ask why.

The essential message of "The Blind Side" is that poor black children matter, and are seen as worth helping , not because of the content of their characters but because of their physical prowess. Like most fans -- myself included -- Lewis prefers not to notice the prejudices that belie our lust for sport, the perverse arrangement by which watching young black men engaged in violent spectacle has become our most profitable form of entertainment. I have no doubt that this book will become another Lewis bestseller. It will play to the masses as an inspiring underdog saga, spiced with proper pieties about the power of hope and individual destiny. It should also stand as an inadvertent testament to the national blind spot that still prevails when it comes to our racial pathologies.

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