Fear & Loathing In Hollywood: Pro-Euthanasia Themes Draw Oscars
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 28, 2005
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA--Few, if any, movie awards shows have brought so much attention to disability issues than Sunday night's 77th Annual Academy Awards.
And what may have been a bright spot for the disability community -- the best actor award for Jamie Foxx's portrayal of the late Ray Charles -- was overshadowed by the sympathy the film industry appears to have for the pro-euthanasia themes in Clint Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby" and the foreign film "The Sea Inside".
Eastwood's film won four Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director (Eastwood), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Morgan Freeman), and Best Actress in a Leading Role (Hilary Swank). "The Sea Inside" was chosen Best Foreign Language Film.
"Million Dollar Baby" ends with the "mercy killing" of a quadriplegic character. "The Sea Inside" portrays the life of a of Spaniard Ramón Sampedro, whose spine was injured in a diving accident and who led a 30-year pro-euthanasia campaign.
Some disability advocates have referred to these two movies as little more than glorified "snuff" films.
"It's clear the Hollywood industry loves nothing more than a story about a disabled person begging to die and having a nondisabled 'friend' do it," said Stephen Drake, research analyst for the disability rights group Not Dead Yet.
"There are many films with great acting, better scripts and better direction. They don't get awards," Drake said in a press statement. "The reason 'Sea Inside' and 'Million Dollar Baby' end up winners is that obviously the theme hits a deep emotional cord, at least with Hollywood industry members and movie critics."
Paul Longmore, a disability advocate who teaches history at San Francisco State University, told the San Mateo County Times: "It taps into and reinforces the notion that it's better to be dead than significantly disabled. And that's a very widespread prejudice."
Cheryl Wade, a Berkeley disability rights activist and wheelchair user, said: "I understand that draw to assisted suicide because I have chronic pain. But the only people who seem to be encouraged to commit suicide are disabled people. Other people would be offered counseling, given options, encouraged to tough through the rough days because things would get better."
"Disability Activists Blast Oscars for Awards to Kill the Cripple Movies" (Not Dead Yet)
"Seeing Million Dollar Baby From My Wheelchair" by Diane Coleman, JD
"Films about disability issues nominated for Academy Awards" by Karen Meyer (ABC7Chicago)
"Right hits out at boxing film" (New Zealand Herald)
Million dollar question (San Mateo County Times)
"Eastwood: no friend of disabled" by Mary Johnson (Courier-Journal)
"ADA Notification & Clint Eastwood" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)