Real-Life 'Blind Side' Couple Blasts Christian Store for Yanking DVD (Exclusive)
"What I hate about what LifeWay has done is that it just makes Christians look stupid," Leigh Anne Tuohy tells The Hollywood Reporter.
Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, the real-life couple who were depicted by Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw in The Blind Side, are defending that movie against LifeWay Christian Stores, which yanked the DVD from its shelves last month citing inappropriate language.
LifeWay, which operates 165 stores, pulled Blind Side after a Florida pastor complained of cursing and a racial epithet in the film. LifeWay says it capitulated because the Southern Baptist Convention was about to convene its annual gathering and elect the first black leader in its history.
“What I hate about what LifeWay has done is that it just makes Christians look stupid,” Leigh Anne Tuohy tells The Hollywood Reporter. “The fact that this would offend the new black leader of the Southern Baptists -- well, I don’t give a rat’s ass.”
In Blind Side, the Tuohys are accurately depicted as a white Christian couple who adopt Michael Oher, a troubled black teenager who eventually plays for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens. At the time, the movie was heralded by Christians for its uplifting and charitable message and for its reverential treatment of faith.
In a statement issued to THR, LifeWay says it “decided last month to stop carrying it because of the likelihood it would be the focus of debate and division at our annual denominational meeting. We were electing the Southern Baptist Convention’s first African-American president and did not want to distract from that historic moment.”
The fact that LifeWay invoked race in its decision is particularly distressing to Leigh Anne, she says.
“Those who put color on The Blind Side are missing the point. They need to look in the mirror and self-examine," she says. "They’re drawing attention to the wrong things. I’d like to kick every one of them in the butt as hard as I can."
After the Southern Baptists elected the Rev. Fred Luter their first black president on June 19, he said that he supported LifeWay’s decision to stop selling Blind Side, a position that didn’t sit well with the Tuohys. But it's the decision-makers at LifeWay that really irk the couple.
“They should have put on their big-boy pants and manned up and said, ‘We’re going to stand by this movie just like we have for two years and we’re sorry if it offends you, but we think the good far outweighs the bad,’ ” Leigh Anne says.
Sean Tuohy, who runs 53 Taco Bell restaurants in seven states, says the decision to ditch Blind Side after successfully selling it for two years doesn’t even make sense from a business perspective.
“If LifeWay and the Southern Baptist Convention are the gatekeepers to what is right and wrong in all of our lives, then they’re not doing a very good job, because by the time they made this decision 100 million people had already seen the movie,” he says. “When I first heard of this, I thought it was comical, and certainly not very effective. If I ran my company that poorly, it might take you two years to get a taco at one of my stores.”