Sandra Bullock may be best known as a romcom queen, but if you look at her filmography, it is surprisingly varied. She has done a lot of weighty material, that she often doesn’t get credit for. In fact, I think a large part of her Oscar win this year was because people were taken aback that she could do a dramatic role. People were also shocked when Sandra Bullock adopted a black baby. Some even criticized this decision of hers saying things like “Weren’t there any white babies to adopt?” or “She’s just trying to get the most attention” or that she is a “typical Hollywood bleeding heart.” Even though adopting ehtnic babies has become sort of a fad recently, I am confident that Bullock’s decision to adopt a black child was entirely genuine. The fact that her character adopted a black boy in The Blind Side may have been a catalyst for her adopting her own child now, but it certainly was not the initial impetus.
Off the top of my head, I can think of two other films before The Blind Side that dealt with race: A Time to Kill and Crash. A Time to Kill is a movie based on the John Grisham novel of the same name. Samuel L. Jackson plays the father of a little girl who has been brutally raped and murdered by members of the Ku Klux Klan and Sandra Bullock plays the law student that is helping Matthew McConaughey defend him. The movie brings into question whether someone who is unequivocally despicable should be killed by vigilante justice. I don’t completely buy what the movie is selling, but I still liked it enough to buy it on DVD. Part of the reason was McConaughey and Bullock’s passionate performances. There is a rather disturbing scene where Bullock’s character is abused and you really feel for her, because she was young, vulnerable and had so much hope.
Fast forward ten years and you get what in many ways is the opposite picture. In Crash, she plays a upper middle-class suburban housewife who has a prejudice against black people that she cannot control, but is not proud of either. Her character isn’t perfect in it, but I think it is a good portrayal of the way a lot of real Americans think. In interviews, Bullock admitted that the role was not an easy one to play since she shared little with the ideologies of the character. Nevertheless, the world is not full of bleeding heart optimists and portrayals of other people with and without their faults is necessary. There comes a point of wealth where people begin to think that they earned all the money they have and others don’t deserve equal benefits without doing equal work. Sandra’s character in A Time to Kill finds that argument to be problematic since people do not start on equal levels, so it is much easier for one group of people to build a fortune than another group. Wealth slowly blinds you to that fact.
Her third and most recent film dealing with race is The Blind Side, a film that I have already written about extensively. I do want to say that that movie is also not so much about race as it is about doing the right thing and the force of strong will. So yes, she is best known for her Miss Congeniality, The Proposal, While You Were Sleeping type movies, but don’t be too shocked when she pulls out a strong dramatic performance!
Regardless of her current life drama, I find Sandra Bullock to be a fascinating and upstanding citizen. Anyone disagree? I will fight you! (Just kidding, please disagree if you want to. It makes for interesting discussion).