Monday, February 28, 2005

Million-dollar debate

There's a very interesting discussion going on over at Bioethics Discussion Blog on the ethics of the ending of the Oscar-winning movie Million Dollar Baby. It also raises the question to what extent a work of fiction is 'entitled' to take liberties with the legalities of ethical issues in a field like medicine. Is it irresponsible to portray emotive end-of-life scenarios in a way which is not congruent with reality? Or do we overestimate the extent to which moviegoers extrapolate cinematic portrayal to real life?

The movie has also been criticised for its portrayal of disability: check out this article in the Chicago Tribune by Lennard Davis which includes salient thoughts on portrayal of disability in cinema in general. Davis says:
'So-called normal people are fascinated and haunted by the person with a disability, probably because, unlike any other identity, one can go from being a normal to a quadriplegic in a matter of seconds. Most white people aren't going to become black in their lifetimes, and most men (with a few exceptions) aren't going to become women in the near future -- but the shaky and uncertain position of being normal can easily convert by a simple medical report into a state of being disabled overnight. That's why most film viewers are so quick to either idolize or pity the disabled person (almost always played by a normal actor), and are so quick to acknowledge
euthanasia as a quick fix to the as-yet unfixable condition of quadriplegia.'

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