March 2, 2005
CAN I GET THAT PLUG FOR YOU, CHRIS?:
Million Dollar Missed Opportunity: What Clint Eastwood's Oscar-winning movie could have done. (Wesley J. Smith, 03/01/2005, Weekly Standard)
The makers of Million Dollar Baby and the Academy members who voted it Best Picture probably believe the film was innovative and courageous. But depicting mercy killing as compassionate and loving has been used as a plot devise so often that it has become a cliché. Indeed, not only have most contemporary television dramas--ER, Law & Order, even Star Trek Voyager--resorted to mercy killing as a plot point, but so did The Sea Inside, the Spanish movie Academy members voted this year's Best Foreign Film.
Nor is this a story line of recent vintage. Indeed, in the past movies were made as explicit propaganda to promote the legalization and legitimacy of active euthanasia. The most notorious of these is the 1939 German movie, I Accuse (Ich Klage An), a film that, with Goebbles's blessing, both promoted voluntary euthanasia as well as the propriety of killing disabled infants--to blockbuster success at the box office.
It is striking and disturbing how similar the plotline of Million Dollar Baby is to the voluntary euthanasia story in I Accuse. [...]
[W]hile it is true that many people who become quadriplegic later in life become
very depressed and suicidal--like Maggie in the movie--studies show that such existential despair is not usually permanent. Indeed, one medical report published several years ago found that the level of depression in people disabled later in life to be no different five years post-injury than that found among the able bodied. Moreover, people suffering the emotional agony that Maggie experienced in the film can be treated for their depression and their suicides prevented--without being force-sedated.
The most important point omitted from the film is that people with quadriplegia, when they are not merely warehoused in a nursing home, live very rich and satisfying lives. That Eastwood never seems to have given this matter any thought is odd, given that Christopher Reeve demonstrated famously that becoming quadriplegic does not mean that meaningful life ends.
Likewise, it's comparable to Birth of a Nation in its bigotry towards the other. Posted by Orrin Judd at March 2, 2005 4:03 PM