Monday, March 22, 2010

A leftover thought from the Oscars

Personal update: Ava Catherine Watson was born last Tuesday at 8:22 in the evening at Kennestone. She is very healthy and Mommy is doing very well. Big sister Caroline loves her little sister. With baby's arrival, I have had little time for keeping up with current events (although I did watch last night's "historic" House vote on healthcare) or our assigned readings for class. So, I thought I would write the other thing about the Academy Awards from two weeks ago that piqued my interest.

Sandra Bullock won Best Actress for her role as a southern woman with a heavy southern drawl who adopts an adolescent black child. She sees something in this young man that no one else does and she pushes him to become a star on the football field. I have not seen this film, but I feel like I can be pretty sure that this movie and the hype that has surrounded it exemplify the surviving strands of American exceptionalism.

American exceptionalism is the idea that the United States of America, its people, and its leaders have been endowed with a special purpose: to bring freedom and democracy to everyone in the world. The idea generally relates to the actions of the U.S. military abroad, but in this case, I think it fits here as well. Bullock’s character stands up for what she thinks is right even when everyone around her thinks she is crazy (including her own husband). She is sassy and isn’t afraid to tell people what she thinks (including “scary inner-city black people”). She embodies the American ideals of kindness, toughness when necessary, and color-blindness. If only everyone was like her, surely this would be a better world.

How insulting can a movie be? Millions of people adopt children. Sometimes, those kids are not infants or toddlers. Increasingly, people are adopting children from different ethnic backgrounds than their own. How is this woman that Bullock portrays exceptional?

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