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The Weblog at The View from the Core - Tue. 03/01/05 06:50:28 PM

Hollywood & Terri Schindler Schiavo

You don't suppose this is all merely coincidental, do you?

A press release, yesterday, from Not Yet Dead.

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At last night's [Sun. Feb. 27] Academy Awards ceremonies, Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby swept the awards, winning for Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director and, finally, Best Picture. Alejandro Amenabar's The Sea Inside was voted Best Foreign Film. The message from the Motion Picture Academy voters? the best "cripple" is a dead "cripple." Both films centered on sympathetic portrayals of the killing of quadriplegics.

"This is a clear statement on the Hollywood industry's opinion of people with disabilities," says Diane Coleman, president of Not Dead Yet, a national disability rights group opposed to legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia. "They grudgingly made accessibility changes when Chris Reeve complained about accessibility at the Kodak Theater, where the Oscar event is held. They love us if we're begging for a cure or begging to die. Once we start talking about our rights, we see their interest and sympathy disappear."

Fortunately, the American public itself might not be as enthralled with the "kill the cripple" theme as members of the Hollywood industry. According to a Harris poll released on February 23, respondents had The Aviator and Ray in a close race for their top choices, with Million Dollar Baby a distant third.

"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," says Stephen Drake, research analyst for Not Dead Yet. "There are many films with great acting, better scripts and better direction. They don't get awards. 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."

Drake also credits critics and commentators for helping to build the film's popularity. They did, that, he says, by marginalizing or eliminating mention of concerns about the movie coming from the disability community. Commentators on the right and left portrayed the controversy as one of conservatives vs. Hollywood. Such politically diverse figures such as Roger Ebert, Michael Medved, Frank Rich, Rush Limbaugh, Maureen Dowd, Pat Buchanan and Gary Thomson all found one thing they have in common: Their willingness to ignore and marginalize the disability community to bolster their own volleys in their "culture wars."

"I guess we should be grateful for one thing," says Drake. "At least there wasn't an animated feature about killing a disabled person. We'd be looking at a clean sweep then."

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(Thanks, Amy.)

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Tue. 03/01/05 06:50:28 PM
Categorized as Media & Social/Cultural.


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