‘Oscars Reflect America’s Rightward Shift’

by on January 27, 2005

Mr. Shaw,

As a quadriplegic since 1979, a free-thinking liberal, and a respected professional film critic since 1984, I must say I have rarely seen anything as insanely misguided, contradictory, and egregiously stupid as your “Beyond Chron” response to the Oscar nominations and your shameless, agenda-pushing assault on “Million Dollar Baby.”

You simply haven’t a clue. You accuse Mr. Eastwood of having an agenda while at the same time pushing your own. While it is certainly true that Eastwood’s film should be seriously discussed and examined for any potential “agenda,” it is equally true — and as a so-called “journalist” you utterly failed to acknowledge this — that “Million Dollar Baby” is not about “killing disabled people.” To interpret the film in such a simple-minded way is almost inconceivably inept and illogical, and you would only have written that to promote your own views about assisted suicide.

“Million Dollar Baby” is far more complex than you allow for in your poorly-argued attack — and remember, I am responding to you as a quadriplegic for nearly 26 years who is fully aware of the complex issues related to Eastwood’s film, as well as “The Sea Inside” (did you bother to mention THAT film?), and right-to-die issues in general.

Why do you make the blunt, knee-jerk assumption that moviegoers will leave “Million Dollar Baby” thinking that “disabled people prefer to die”? Don’t you think people are capable of understanding the ethical complexity of the film, and understanding that Hilary Swank’s character is in no way representing all disabled people?

Yes, I will certainly allow that the film may give some simple-minded viewers the impression that death is preferable to disability for some people, but is that untruthful? I hardly think so. Some disabled people commit suicide, assisted or not, and many others (like me) choose not to.

But for you to wildly misinterpret Eastwood’s film and accuse it of promoting an agenda while you so inefficiently and ineptly promote your own, well, that’s just an insult to the intelligence of filmgoers, disabled people, reputable film critics, and your readers.

Shame on Roger Ebert and other critics? No…shame on YOU.

Jeff Shannon

You can submit letters to the editor by clicking on this link:rshaw@beyondchron.org
or by writing to:
Beyond Chron
126 Hyde Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
415-771-9850 (phone)
415-771-1287 (fax)

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