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More Advocates Speak Out Against Eastwood's Pro-Euthanasia Theme
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 17, 2005

UNITED STATES--As Hollywood gears up for the Academy Awards later this month, more disability rights advocates are using the opportunity to educate the public about the problems the disability community has with actor/director Clint Eastwood and the pro-euthanasia theme of his block-buster film "Million Dollar Baby".

The movie has been nominated for no less than 11 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director (Eastwood), Best Actor (Eastwood) and Best Actress (Hilary Swank) and has been praised by critics around the world.

Disability advocates have called it a "snuff film" and Eastwood's "vendetta" for being sued over violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act at his Carmel, California resort.

The outrage centers around a plot line in which one of the characters experiences a spinal cord injury and ends up in a nursing home. Another "pulls the plug" on that character's ventilator, apparently deciding that it is better to not live at all than to live with such a disability.

Mike Reynolds, a disability rights advocate from Maine, launched a new web site last week condemning Eastwood as a "Million Dollar Bigot" because of his attitude toward people with disabilities.

"If Mr. Eastwood is so convinced that his film is grounded in reality then perhaps he might wish to accompany me to the U.S. Army's Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland where there are 1000 or so severely disabled soldiers from Iraq whose lives are changed forever, who were told they fought for Iraqi freedom and are now perhaps wondering, along with their families, who is going to fight for their freedom to live a full life here in America," wrote NBC News reporter John Hockenberry for Reynolds' website.

"As a paraplegic for three decades I can help them with that question. Would they offer to helpfully pull the plug on these soldiers?" Hockenberry asked.

Susan LoTempio, a staff writer for the Buffalo News, wrote: "I understand why 'Million Dollar Baby' is so deeply upsetting to so many. Experiencing life from a wheelchair, I've suffered through plenty of examples of Hollywood's misinterpretation of our lives. It's either the hero plot ('Coming Home' starring Jon Voight and 'Born on the Fourth of July' with Tom Cruise), the inspirational victim ('My Left Foot' with Daniel Day-Lewis) or the better-dead-than-in-bed film."

"Never mind that people with real disabilities are rarely cast to play characters with on-screen disabilities. Hero or victim, the stories are never even close to real life."

In an opinion piece for the Joliet, Illinois Herald News, Pam Heavens, Executive Director of the Will-Grundy Center for Independent Living, wrote: "Clint Eastwood doesn't much care about accessible public accommodations and has made no bones about saying so. He has actively lobbied Congress to weaken the Americans with Disabilities Act. What a wonderful way to express what are probably his real feelings about people with disabilities: better dead than disabled."

Not Dead Yet's Steve Drake, and the Ragged Edge Magazine's Mary Johnson wrote in a piece for the Chicago Sun-Times: "Had the plot been racial or homophobic killing, however, we'd be hearing an outcry (if the movie ever got made at all)."

"Why the silence? We think it's because much of society believes it's the right thing to do, to grant the wish of any severely disabled person who asks us to help them die."

"To us this exhibits an appalling lack of knowledge of severely disabled people, and an even more appalling lack of interest in questioning why films with this message are winning awards."

The Academy Awards will be aired Sunday, February 27.

Related:
Million Dollar Bigot

http://www.milliondollarbigot.org
"And the Loser Is..." By John Hockenberry (Million Dollar Bigot)
http://www.milliondollarbigot.org/loser.html
"Eastwood delivers blow with portrayal of disabilities" by Susan LoTempio (Buffalo News)
http://www.buffalonews.com/editorial/20050213/1002762.asp
"Eastwood really is a Million Dollar bigot" by Pam Heavens (Herald News)
http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/heraldnews/opinions/j11guestcol.htm
"Movies about disabled keep myths alive" by Steven Drake & Mary Johnson (Chicago Sun-Times)
http://www.suntimes.com/output/otherviews/cst-edt-ref12.html
"Death, not disability, is the end of the world" by Ed Smith (CBC News)
http://www.cbc.ca/news/viewpoint/vp_disabilitymatters/smith_20050203.html
"Advocates Outraged At Eastwood's Pro-Euthanasia Film" -- January 26, 2005 (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)
http://www.inclusiondaily.com/archives/05/01/26/012605useastwood.htm

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