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Tackling the truth over Michael Oher’s lawsuit

Updated: Oct 13, 2023

By Mahika Khosla Sep 28, 2023


Michael Oher, a former African-American NFL football tackle, is suing the Tuohy family for supposedly not telling him of the conservatorship he had with the family since the age of 18.


Oher suffered from a difficult early life in foster care and never had a stable living environment. While in high school, Oher met Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy, two adults who provided him with food and a place to study. When Oher was 18, he officially entered into the family. During his 11th and 12th grade years, he received multiple college scholarships for basketball, track, and football and went on to play in the NFL before announcing his retirement in 2017.


In 2006, author Michael Lewis wrote a book, “The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game” on Oher’s life story. The biography was a large success, leading to a movie adaptation in 2009 titled “The Blind Side”. This highly popular movie detailed the life of

Michael Oher, depicting Oher’s relationship with the Tuohys as well as his growth academically and athletically.

Daniel Choi Art

However, trouble arose on Aug. 14, when, according to ESPN, Michael Oher filed a lawsuit claiming he was robbed of the money he deserved from the film and was not involved in the writing and production process. In his 14-page lawsuit, Oher claimed that the other Tuohy children were paid $225,000 each in addition to 2.5% of the profit from the film while he received nothing. Additionally, Oher wrote that the film inaccurately portrayed his experience as a black teenager experiencing homelessness and instability, and asserted that he was never adopted by the Tuohys as the movie hinted. Oher states that when he was 18 years old, the Tuohys convinced him to enter a conservatorship which allowed them to control Oher’s finances, health insurance, and admission to college among other important affairs, lying to him that it was essentially the same as adoption. Oher argues that he was unaware of the arrangement until February and that the conservatorship has allowed the Tuohy family to take a significant share of his money. Contrarily, the Tuohy family asserts that all household members, including Oher, received about $100,000 from the film, and that a conservatorship was the only way Oher could become part of their family as an adult. As debates arose over the film’s validity and ethicality, some supported Oher while others did not. Those on Oher’s side expressed displeasure with the actors and actresses of the movie, specifically Sandra Bullock, for participating in the filmmaking process without doing any background research or contacting Oher.


“It is important that Oher speaks up about injustice. His lawsuit sets a precedent for others who are falsely portrayed in the media. If these people do not speak up, then others may misunderstand them, ” Sophomore Nainika Srinivasan said.

Nevertheless, some doubt that Oher was uninformed of his conservatorship because he referred to the Tuohys as his “conservators” in his 2011 memoir. Moreover, when in a conservatorship, guardians must sign off the paychecks of those under their care. Thus, many question how Tuohy went through his entire NFL career without noticing anything unusual. As a result, CBS News Baltimore reports that several speculate that Oher is only suing to publicize his book “When Your Back's Against

the Wall” which he wrote earlier this year, and received little attention.


“The lawsuit is a publicity stunt.. However, if an individual has been falsely depicted in a movie, the creators should inform the public and take down the film if the main character wishes. Furthermore, I believe that those depicted in a film should first be interviewed and consent to the storyline before the movie is produced ,” Sophomore Emily Marshall said.

Daniel Choi Art

For one thing, “The Blind Side” is not the first movie under investigation for inaccurately portraying real-life stories and overlooking input from the main character. Some examples include “Titanic”, “Imitation Game” and “Pocahontas”. Moreover, “Fresh Off the Boat,” the first sitcom to feature an Asian American family in two decades, was criticized by the central character Eddie Huang per CNN. Eddie Huang accused the filmmakers of misconstruing his memoir by watering down the difficulties he encountered in order to make the show more appealing. “The Blind Side”, along with other erroneous biographical films, emphasizes the importance of thoroughly investigating multiple sides of a story and honoring the truth.

 

About the Contributors

Mahika Khosla

staff writer


Mahika Khosla is a sophomore at Leland High School and is a writer for The Charger Account. During her free time, she enjoys reading novels, watching movies with popcorn, and creating board games.






Daniel Choi

artist


Daniel Choi is a junior at Leland High School and an artist for The Charger Account. During his free time, he enjoys watching shows, taking walks, and sleeping.


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