I just watched “The Blind Side.” It’s a heartwarming tale of a family who adopts a homeless kid and, through love and dedication, sets him on life’s right path and watches him succeed in unimaginable ways. It’s inspiring, it’s sweet, it’s wonderfully entertaining, it’s total bullshit.
Well, I don’t know if that last part is true. That’s just what my journalist’s eyes are feeding into my brain, and they’re not always right. But they usually are painfully accurate.
My journalist’s eyes tell me this about the movie: A once-in-a-lifetime athlete is served up on a plate to a private school that wants to have a good football team. Rules are bent, a stable home is found, the adults who live there — huge athletic boosters of their alma mater and rich to boot — find a way to get the kid through high school and into their college, where he suddenly turns out to be an honor roll student. Everybody — even the high school coach — goes along for a ride and has a good time. The kid becomes a great professional football player after his college glories; without all of the care and feeding that he got solely because of his athletic talent, he’d probably be hustling 8-balls right now in South Memphis.
Most normal, healthy people would find that painfully cynical. They’d see a wonderfully humanitarian story with a fantastically warm ending.They’d watch the movie, they’d laugh, they’d cry, they’d give Sandra Bullock an Oscar for copping a decent Memphis drawl.
This is the curse of choosing a career that guarantees you will deal with people who will lie to your face if they can get away with it. You take a set a facts, you map out a plausible bad-news scenario and you start with the base assumption that the scenario is true. Strangely, other people find this upsetting.
My journalist’s eyes get me in trouble. Friends talk about their lives, acquaintances update me about what’s going on, and all I can think is: Hmmmm.
Over the years, I have adjusted to that by keeping a sense of decorum about my feelings, which helps prevent me from burning a lot of bridges. But I’d probably sleep easier if I had chosen to, say, follow my father into an accounting career.