Monday, March 07, 2005

Medicine goes to the Movies.

Also titled: Eatwood's Crutch.

Warning: I'm going to spoil the hell out of Million Dollar Baby, so if you give a shit about that sort of thing, go away. I'm not sure that knowing the end of any movie spoils my enjoyment of it (Crying Game), but whatever. However, simply being a doctor spoils some movies for me - and not just because as a doctor I'm boring, incapable of grasping higher human thought or emotion. But because when movies do medicine, they fuck it up. And TV is even worse.

Before I start panning and leveling critiques based on that little thing called 'reality' I need to say that I do get the point. Movies are not reality. I do understand that they do things the way they do for added suspense and for plot and character development. But I still can't get over my disappointment with Million Dollar Baby. The movie really sucked. Sorry Clint. Otherwise I really like your work. You say the words that other people write down really well. You are also cool looking. You narrow your eyes in a most excellent manner. And I like how your characters always give people a chance to draw on you first before you kill them. That's sportsmanlike and I think it sets a good example.

But your movie about the million $ baby (M$B) sucked. Sorry. In it, our hero, the lovely boxer woman with a miraculously unbroken nose, gets a high cervical spine injury. My high school buddies would have said that the movie makes a good point: chicks can't fight. The woman is intubated because the injury was high enough to disconnect the brain's respiratory centers from the diaphragm. Given this situation, she chooses to go off the respirator. After some soul searching, her coach, Eastwood, sneaks into her hospital room and pulls the plug.

Dear Clint: I know that you didn't specifically intend for the controversy, but I also know that everyone in Hollow-wood welcomed it. They will probably make double thanks to the protestors. The criticism come from two sources: right wing nut bags (I refuse to link them) and people with disabilities. Both make the same poor argument, which I suspect as slightly disingenuous, because surely they can't be so stupid.

Their argument is that euthanasia is wrong. What is euthanasia? Well, that's easy. It is the act of killing someone painlessly. However, in this case, Eastwood's character did not kill her. He removed the artificial means that kept her alive at her request. So again, at her request, he undid the machine that was breathing for her. Because of her condition, she died. The proximal cause was the natural history of her high C-spine injury. He did not euthanize her; he simply removed the medical care she did not wish for herself.

Now this might surprise the right wing nut jobs. This happens every day in every hospital across the country. End stage diseases are end stage. Terminal. We do not intubate people with end stage cancers to keep them alive. We do not keep pouring blood into people with no bone marrow. We do not flog people against their will to keep them alive against their wishes. So applying the word euthanasia to this movie is like applying the word green to a math problem.

Now of course, Eastwood plays off it to increase expense. But he increases suspense at the cost of presenting a legitimate story based in the world we live in. Eastwood's crutch is too obvious to pretend this movie actually walks on its own two legs.

Next time: why the disability people are wrong.

4 Comments:

Blogger Geoff said...

DOC NOS: Interesting take on the movie. I hadn't thought about the subtleties of the term euthanasia. However, I thought he injected her with something, and that was what killed her - not disconnecting her from the machine. If that's the case then I think it was euthanasia.

Anyway, I didn't like the film for other reasons. It was slow, boring, and the characters seemed stereotyped and dull to me. The hillbilly welfare family was a total cliche. I can't believe it got nominated for all those awards.

7:17 AM  
Blogger laurenbove said...

I'm just sick of Swank butching up and then loosing a million pounds and putting on an evening gown and grabbing a statuette.

Oh, lets give out Oscars because a female star is willing to look unimaginably unattractive and even chunky. I guess Zellweger is unsucessfuly working that angle, as well.

BTW: Don't they have technical advisors for medical accuracy? Or are they saving that cash for Hillary's crash diet camp?

8:13 AM  
Blogger Doc NOS said...

Perhaps he injected her with morphine to ease her air hunger. That is not what killed her however. Removing the tube did not allow her to breath. Since man is an aerobic organism, this is what killed her.

11:25 AM  
Blogger Doc NOS said...

Despite obvious differences, I meant man as inclusive to women. Both sexes are aerobes. After that I believe similarities end and differences dominate.

3:29 PM  

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