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Million Dollar Missed Opportunity: What Clint Eastwood's Oscar-winning movie could have done

Wesley J. Smith

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If academy awards were given for the greatest lost opportunity, "Million Dollar Baby" would have won them, too.

As anyone who has been paying attention to the ruckus mounted ably and righteously by the disability rights community must now know, the movie climaxes with Frankie, Clint Eastwood's character, euthanizing the once indomitable Maggie, his boxing protégé, played by Hillary Swank.

Frankie kills Maggie because she doesn't want to go on living after being catastrophically injured and disabled in a boxing match. It isn't just the disability that leads to her suicidal desire. In the world of the script, she is plunged headlong from triumph to utter hopelessness. Indeed, the script writers manipulate the audience emotionally into thinking, "Of course she wants to die. Given the same situation, who wouldn't?"

First, Maggie becomes a ventilator-dependent quadriplegic, after once living a life of utter physicality. That would be difficult to adjust to even under ideal circumstances. But Maggie's life as a disabled woman is anything but ideal. Despite supposedly receiving the best of care she soon develops bed sores so serious that one of her legs is amputated. (Apparently the writers didn't know that proper medical care prevents most bed sores.) Third, her venal and uncaring family refuses to visit, and when they do, she is pressured into signing over control of her assets. Fourthly, after trying to kill herself in a terribly painful way, she is force-sedated to prevent further suicide attempts.

Frankie is in anguish over his friend's plight and concludes that he is actually killing Maggie by letting her live. So, in his love for her, he overcomes his Catholic guilt and murders Maggie by removing the respirator and injecting her with an overdose of adrenalin. The intent, of course, is to leave not a dry eye in the house.

Read the entire article on the Weekly Standard website (new window will open).

Posted: 22-Mar-05



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