Monday, March 14, 2005

All the hubbub surrounding "Million Dollar Baby" (not, as it turns out, "Billion Dollar Babies") has centered on three main, but not mutually-exclusive categories.

1) MDB is a brilliant movie, destined to be a classic, and therefore worthy of hubbub.
2) MDB endorses euthanasia, which is contrary to the laws of one or more gods, and must be hubbubed.
3) MDB essentially tells us that paralysis (or related conditions) is a living death and that people who face such situations are justified in wanting to die and should have death as an option (even if this means euthanasia). The film comes close to saying "Give me full mobility, or give me death!" and, in this way, should arouse hubbub among the less mobile and those who care about them.

I have not seen MDB, as it has only recently come out in Germany, and can therefore not take a position (except to repeat that Hillary Swank is a fox). However, I am generally in favor of "assisted suicide", which differs from euthanasia in that the former implies a well-informed consent whereas the latter can be done at the whim of the euthaniser, so point 3 both confronts and goes right past me. Point 2 is unimportant to me, as I don't believe in gods. Point 1, obviously, is moot, although people I trust (Sarah, Roger Ebert, assorted hubbubbers) dug it.

Anywho, what I haven't seen is a consideration of the movie's morality in terms other than points 2 and 3. Tim, along the road to surfdom, has presented such a consideration, however, and it has set me to thinking: "Clint Eastwood's new film, Million Dollar Baby, is good, but it's really just another vigilante movie, a species of Dirty Harry, though a kinder gentler Dirty Harry. In fact, given Clint's political pedigree, we might call it one of the defining texts of compassionate conservatism."

Read his review and then come back here and tell me if you think it is fair. It seems fair, but I can't speak to it.

I CAN say that "Mystic River" seemed to me to be resolutely anti vigilante. Likewise, "Unforgiven" is about, among other things, the lonliness and mysery that results from being a murderer.

I'm on less stable ground on my next point, but I will take a stab at it: I think one can view Clint's "man with no name" Western character as an angel or demon. (I think Carlton and I have discussed this, in fact, and I may have gotten the idea from him.) This angel/demon travels the West, giving bad people the what for. In my favorite of these films, "High Plains Drifter", the angel/demon actually punishes an entire town for cowardice (and renames it Hell, in case you didn't catch what was going on). So, the angel/demon is like a vigilante, but as a non-human figure he may be Justice. If that is true, then it is no longer "one good man" who takes the matter in hand, but the forces of not-always-instant karma.

Does that make sense?

Regardless: Hillary Swank's back for President!


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