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And the Loser Is...

John Hockenberry

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One can barely imagine how relieved the movie critics now climbing over themselves to defend Clint Eastwood were to see the right-wing media going after Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby. Suddenly they were free to set the dispute into a broad culture war context as Frank Rich did last week. They were free finally to ignore the true outrage of the movie. These same critics failed millions of Americans with disabilities by accepting as utterly plausible the plot-twist that a quadriplegic would sputter into medical agony in a matter of months and embrace suicide as her only option in a nation where millions of people with spinal cord injuries lead full long lives. No, these critics would much prefer to talk about offenses against poor victimized directors, comparing Eastwood to last year's besieged Michael Moore rather than to talk about their own failings or about a group which has never had any standing in the culture wars.

Plot twist is, in fact, an apt description of Million Dollar Baby's ending. A spinal cord injury followed by a dolorous slo-mo sipping of Eastwood's poetic hemlock avoids the inconvenient truth that a female athlete outside of basketball and perhaps professional mud-wrestling has virtually no opportunity to make a living in America. That might make a more plausible reason for suicide than the rationale Million Dollar Baby supplies.

Hollywood loves this disabled suicide plot and Eastwood is hardly the only director to be enthralled with might be called the crip ex machina theatrical convention.

Read the entire article on the Million Dollar Bigot website (new window will open).

Posted: 24-Feb-05



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