Dear Dr. Ted,
As you've pointed out, Clint Eastwood’s “Million Dollar Baby” has proved itself to be the center of controversy as people debate its ulterior motives of supporting assisted suicide. Your argument is presented by comparing the film to Nazi propaganda to further their regime to carry out the Holocaust. This however, is too extreme of an example because Eastwood is in no way trying to wipe all handicapped people off of the face of the earth to create a “superior” race.
A more recent film by Eastwood also deals with death, and it could be considered “suicide”. In “Gran Torino” Eastwood’s character meets a fatal end as he sacrifices his life to protect the life of a boy who has come into his life and becomes almost like family. Going to meet the members of the gang who want to fight this boy, Eastwood’s character knows very well they will most likely shoot him, and indeed they do. This martyrdom could also be considered suicide, but for a greater cause. Likewise, the assisted suicide of Maggie (Hillary Swank) in “Million Dollar Baby” could also be considered for a greater cause. This just explains Eastwood’s views about death that it is permissible to die for your loved ones and that if your loved one is in a terrible physical state and they wish to die, it is in the most loving way that you assist them in that.
Contrary to my personal beliefs about suicide, I feel that comparing Eastwood’s movie to Nazi propaganda is far too extreme. It seems that he considers death and suicide the same way as Shakespeare did—a romantic and dramatic effect in their arts of writing and movie-making. In addition, trying to consider Eastwood prejudiced against the physically handicapped by bringing up the fact that he had no handicapped restrooms in his Carmel, CA restaurant is certainly not proper grounds to support Baehr’s argument. This doesn’t relate at all to his views of the handicapped, but rather lack of planning in the construction of his establishment.
While personally feeling that suicide and assisted suicide are acts of murder, Eastwood’s movies are made strictly for entertainment value. However, as some say Maggie’s character went through life fighting and went out in the same way, it seems that it would have been more of a fight if she tried to deal with the struggle of being a quadriplegic. True, it would be very hard to go from traveling the world and having your name chanted by thousands of unknown people to not being able to move any of your limbs or even breathe without the assistance of a machine, but it is selfish to think that you are somehow unworthy or tired of living. It is hard when a movie such as this airs because it does appear to portray that life isn’t worth living if you’re paralyzed, but there are in fact many people living full lives in this condition. I would think that it would be better to instill hope in these people rather than glorifying a premature death—to continue the fight.