Friday, February 04, 2005

Million Dollar Baby

I saw the movie "Million Dollar Baby" on Wednesday night. I had never even heard of the movie and had no idea what it was about. The guys I was with just said, "It's about a girl boxer." Indeed, that is how it began. But half way through it, the movie completely and unexpectedly came to a screeching halt and shifted gears. The boxer (Hilary Swank) broke her neck and got laid up in a hospital. She was on a respirator and eventually had a leg amputated due to bed ulcers. I was encouraged at this point that the movie was going to turn from a shallow "guts and glory" storyline to a Joni Tada theme of courage and overcoming odds. Not so. After a time, Swank gets sick of being bedridden and asks her trainer (Clint Eastwood) to do the loving thing and put her out of her misery. He goes through a very brief see-saw of emotions and the movie culminates with Eastwood unscrewing her respirator tube.

I could list probably a dozen things wrong with the message and theology of this movie's storyline so I will do my best to stay off my soapbox and merely discuss the one topic relevant to this blog. And that is the myth that disabled people are miserable and want to die. Swank's speech, appealing to Eastwood, was noteworthy. The reason it was all over for her was because, "they used to line up to see me, they would chant my name, I was in magazines...."

This movie fails to differentiate between two very distinct things, namely, living a valid, happy, fulfilled life vs. living a life of fame and glory. It wasn't that Swank couldn't be happy without a leg, it was that she couldn't box without one. It wasn't that people wouldn't love her anymore, but that she wouldn't be loved by thousands of adoring fans. It wasn't the loss of quality living she dreaded, it was the loss of her own glory.

The message of this film goes far beyond euthanasia. The film perpetuates the myth that our purpose in life is to acquire fame, stature, and glory and if our physical body restricts us from achieving that goal, there is no reason left to keep going.

This man-centered approach to life will result in nothing but depression and failure (whether disabled or not) because we were not put on this earth to achieve our own glory, but to give our glory over to Christ.

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