Family Collage: The Blind Side A VISUAL REPRESENTATION OF THE FAMILY DEPICTED IN THE BLIND SIDE (2009) KAYLA MURCHISON
The Tuohy Family Leigh Anne Tuohy (Mother): Leigh Anne plays the role of wife, mother, and decision maker for the Tuohy family. She is an interior designer that is strong- willed, independent, and a representation of a “Southern Momma.” She forms a strong bond with her adopted son Michael early on in the plot as she assumes the role of his mother and attempts to make the troubled life he has faced easier. Sean Tuohy (Father): Sean plays the role of husband and father. Compared to Leigh Anne, his character is much more reserved and easy going. He is a wealthy business man who often acts as the constant figure in the family. His role seldom changes and he is constantly there to pull Leigh Anne back down to earth. Collins Tuohy (Daughter) Collins is the biological daughter of Leigh Anne and Sean, a popular cheerleader in high school. As a teenager in a high school located in the Southern U.S., she faces some ridicule when it is known that her parents have adopted a black teen; however, her role changes in the family as she overcomes the initial struggle and welcomes Michael as her brother.
The Tuohy Family S.J Tuohy (Son): S.J. is the youngest member of the Tuohy family, a very outspoken, happy kid who accepts Michael from the beginning. His role does not change very much throughout the film because he acted as a sibling to Michael since the beginning. He helps Michael train for football and helps him in the decision of which college to attend. Michael Oher (Adopted Son): Michael Oher is black teenage male who finds himself living on a friends couch due to the drug habits of his mother. When he is enrolled into the religious high school that the Tuohy’s attend by his friends father and then forced to find somewhere else to live, he is found and taken in by the Tuohys. He bonds with the family and becomes one of their own when he is adopted and tutored in order to reach his aspiration of playing college football.
“The media culture appears to have a singular,The Tuohy family was idealized view of the family, vividly depicted inoriginally a two parent media holiday advertising- a middle class, blood-biological family, themost common form of related family with smiling parents andfamilies. However, grandparents, eating a traditional turkey dinner.through the adoption of In reality, this image represents only one family,Michael they became a and a life experienced by a small segment ofform of a blendedfamily. people.” (4)The adoption wasspontaneous and fast,but included the aspectstypically found in amore common adoptionprocess: the matchingof personalcharacteristics and anopen style ofconnections acrossracial and religionslines.
Roles “Within families, roles are established, grown into, grown through, discussed, negotiated, worked on, accepted and rejected.” (168) The Tuohy family acted as a unit when they adopted Michael, all taking on new role functions to help his transition, such as: Providing basic resources Providing for individual development, nurturing, and support Although they acted as a whole, individual members played different roles. Leigh Anne was very much the protector of Michael and the rest of her family, as well as the decision maker. In return for their role functions, Michael also provided for individual development of his family.
Roles Continued Kinship Maintenance was a large part of Michael’s joining of the Tuohy family. Michael felt very strongly connected to his biological mother, and as though he needed to take care of her. In an attempt to make Michael’s transition easier and perform maintenance to the relationship between Michael and his birth mother, Leigh Anne visits her and discusses the adoption. She makes sure that his birth mother knows he is safe and being taken care of. The Tuohy’s struggle to become an open family is very apparent. They have somewhat flexible boundaries but struggle not to use censorship, force, or coercion to guide Michael This is especially true in the very important and difficult decision Michael has to make about what college to play football for.
Cohesion The Tuohy family begins the movie (before meeting Michael) as a connected family; however, they became a very connected family who strove for emotional closeness, joint involvement, and individuality after the adoption. They Tuohy’s started the film very structured, with set roles and rules. With the changes they experienced they became more flexible when faced with bringing Michael into the family and learning of his past.
“A theme may be viewed as a pattern of feelings, motives, fantasies, and conventionalizedThe Tuohy family is understanding grouped around a particular locusguided by certain family of concern” (42)themes they all holdtrue, which are tested The Tuohy’s began as a family very closed off from theand intensified with the outside world. Their new relationships with Michael and theaddition of Michael: past experiences he brings with him open their eyes to more of the world around them and the ways in which others live. We have aresponsibility for thoseless fortunate then us You can alwaysdepend on your family We are survivorsThese themes weretested in their attemptto help Michael succeedin not only football andschool, but also as anindividual and in life.
Relational Maintenance Marital Maintenance: Leigh Anne and Sean often use positivity, openness, and sharing tasks regarding the responsibilities of being parents and the large decisions made that affect the family Rituals: The most noteworthy ritual throughout the movie is the attendance of the children’s sporting events or school activities. The Tuohy family made plans before the end of the movie to attend all of Michael’s football games at Mississippi University. Relationship Currencies: Leigh Anne & Sean: Positive verbal statements, listening, gifts (for example, a truck for Michael) Michael: Self disclosure: the voluntary self-revealing of information (especially to Leigh Anne) and physical protection for his family members/team mates S.J.: (for Michael) Time, favors in preparing Michael for football, positive verbal statements
Conflict• Meanings and Messages: “Communication involves the negotiation of shared meanings; if they are not held in common, confusion or misunderstanding is likely to occur.” • A primary task of the Tuohy family changed to “meaning making” and the development of shared meanings when Michael entered the family. There were many messages that were misinterpreted due to uncommon meanings. For example: • When Leigh Anne was taking Michael to buy new clothing, he was hesitant to trust her and felt as if she was taking him away from his life. He protested by stating that he had clothes at his home, until they used relational currencies to compromise. Over time the family developed shared meanings.
Conflict Continued “Conflicts in families stem from many issues and are handled in many different ways. Change may trigger uneasiness and conflict. A new family member . . . all have impact within the family system.” (233) A major conflict in the film was Michael’s decision of what college to go to, and the question of whether the Tuohy’s pressured him to attend the school they did To overcome this conflict, which was mainly between Leigh Anne and Michael, the family used strategies like listening, managing the physical environment, and making it known that each family member has control over their individual choices.
Family Change Throughout the Film We see the Tuohy’s move from one stage of the family life cycle (families with adolescents) to another throughout the film (launching their first child- Michael- into the world). Because they have younger children, Leigh Anne and Sean did not face negotiation of the martial system as a dyad but had to realign relationships with Michael and the children remaining at home “Communication between people not only reflects their environment but depends on their experiences and which stage they are at in the life cycle . . . Each stage enables the person to make more sense of a greater variety of experiences in more adequate ways.”
References BROMMEL, BYLUND, AND GALVIN, KATHLEEN.FAMILY COMMUNICATION: COHESION AND CHANGE.BOSTON, MA: PEARSON EDUCATION, 2004. PRINT. “THE BLIND SIDE.” IMDB. IMBD.COM, INC., WEB. 20NOV. 2009.