So, someone asked me to detail why I think that Freedom Writers is the only good “white savior” movie among the rest of them, so I figured I would put some points as to why:
-The movie is based on a true story. I mean, yeah, this is true of most of these movies, but it really says a lot that the movie was made with full support from the real Erin Gruwell and Freedom Writers that the movie portrays, including letting them on set whenever they wanted. Erin’s only objection was the casting of Hillary Swank, but it was just a joke she made, citing that she thought Hillary was much prettier than she was.
-The film addresses white privilege without calling it by name. Erin, at the beginning of the film, expects the kids to respect her in exchange for her respect to them, regularly attempts to appeal to authority, and gives in to small bits of racism due to her first few days at school. After realizing the power she has over her disenfranchised kids (due to Eva’s “I hate white people” speech), instead of trying to change them to respect her, she changes her perspective and decides to try to listen and understand them, to be the teacher that will listen to them rather than try to control them.
-The film addresses the systemic racism that is inherent in the school district, and the negative effects it has on the children. This includes the scene where an honors student requests to be transferred to Erin’s class, after being fed up with her English teacher’s constant attempts to put her on a pedestal as the only black student in his class, and her disgusted reaction to why there’s no black literature taught in any of the school’s advanced curriculum.
-The film advocates listening to students, rather than trying to talk them into life changes. Throughout the film, Erin regularly challenges the kids to become family to each other, but also gives them an outlet to tell their stories and let out some of their internalized anger and struggles. She changes her curriculum to what she thinks will help them, and give them people to identify with, rather than tell them their struggles are not so bad.
-There’s a great lack of certainty in Erin, as a character. Most films of this kind only show the character going through crisis when things are at their worse, but she shows regularly that she’s not sure whether or not her methods will help at first. Combine that with constantly being stonewalled by school officials. She does it anyway, even if it puts her personal life at risk to do so.
-The kids themselves are incredibly dynamic, interesting, and well rounded. Each of them has a distinct personality, have their own relationships to each other, and are handled well.
-The white characters, while mostly being antagonistic, are actually still treated as regular human beings. Mrs. Campbell, while being the while who gets in Erin’s way at every turn, is treated as a character who isn’t necessarily malicious just for the sake of it, but for a lack of understanding and general ignorance. By the end of the story, it’s very clear that she’s actually quite jealous of Erin’s success with the class.
-Erin herself is actually treated as a well rounded character instead of the prototypical white savior who exudes charisma, authority, and power at every turn. She doesn’t always have the answers, she’s sometimes hopelessly naive, she’s a total dork, and her motivation for her students is sometimes so single minded that she loses track of everything else, like her marriage.
I could go on about this movie. But these are some of the main points that hit home for me.
freedom writers and the blind side are based on true stories! why are they bad? please explain it to me
The actual Tuohy was just involved in some racism white saviorism bs like a month or two ago. Oher’s character in the movie depicted as worse off than in real life.
Freedom Writers fits into that “white person shows low-class urban students the way to salvation” trope that makes white liberals feel good. Gruwell, I see, is doing motivational speeches on her story making money off of the quirky white teacher leading non-white kids out of the darkness and into the light.