Putting “Baby” to Rest
My visitors may have wondered why I needed to write four days of postings for a movie. After all isn’t a movie just a movie. I suppose what that expression could mean is that a movie is valuable for its financial benefit to the producers, for its “escape” value to its viewers who want to get into another life for an hour or two and for the ego and perhaps for the pocket books of its staff and casts if the result is to win an Oscar. Do you think I missed something else of value? Sure. A movie can be a life-moment teaching/learning experience if it brings to the screen what the viewer appreciates as a bit of his or her life or experience or awareness. When the viewer can fully understand and identify with the life of the characters as one easily can in “Baby”, what goes on around the character and what happens to the character is significant to bring about that learning moment, adding something new and important to the viewer’s life experience and knowledge. That is why it is important that what the viewer carries away is something of value for their own life and experience. I think that “Baby” missed the opportunity to do that very thing.
Well, you might say, many movies, maybe even the previous ones that Clint played in, nobody cares about unethical or illegal behavior within the film or at the ending. It’s a “shoot-em up” story. But “Baby” is different. The film is so powerful that I am sure the vast majority of the audience felt personally understanding and emotionally attached to each of the major characters. And when it came to the very ending, what was taken away was something not in keeping with the power of the rest of the film but something tawdry and misleading. What are all those viewers who are or have family members who are severely disabled or who are in a medically terminal condition going to think about what ethical and legal alternatives there are available for them?
Look.. one of the biggest problems physicians face when caring for critically ill patients is ignorance but also misunderstanding by the public about the facts and options in the management of the seriously ill. This misunderstanding is derived from a number of factors including poor physician communication but also by distortions presented on TV medical programs and stories, direct to consumer advertising and the comments of the over-the-fence neighbor amongst others. This lack or misinformation leads to ethical conflicts often between patients, their families and the healthcare providers. As a chairperson of a hospital ethics committee, I can tell you that this provides work for us but I would like to see ethical issues that have already been solved years ago not to arise again and be brought to the ethics committee for the conflict resolution. The newer issues where there is no ethical consensus.. those are the ones we want!
So this why I and others interested in medical ethics would have been pleased if there was a more simple, ethical, legal and realistic ending to such a fine motion picture as “Million Dollar Baby”. And with this final commentary, I will put “Baby” to rest. ..Maurice.