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February 17, 2005

Medved defends his criticism of 'Million Dollar Baby'

Movie critic Michael Medved was justifiably harsh in his criticism of Clint Eastwood's new movie, "Million Dollar Baby", mainly because of its unexpected sympathetic portrayal of euthanasia (no apologies for the spoiler here -- if you didn't know about this plot twist yet, you've been living under a rock). For his trouble, a lot of big names in the LeftMedia have turned their guns on him. Now he has replied to his critics in a Wall Street Journal essay. Here's how it starts:

As the Oscar campaign comes down to its climactic concluding days, I've been amazed to see much of the ferocious battle for Best Picture improbably and irrationally focused on . . . me.

In recent weeks, some of the nation's most influential cultural observers have chosen to concentrate their Academy Awards commentary on my harsh reaction on radio and TV about the deceptive packaging of Clint Eastwood's boxing-and-euthanasia epic, "Million Dollar Baby." Roger Ebert raised the issue in several columns, attacking my decision to mention the movie's crucial assisted-suicide theme as "unforgivable." Maureen Dowd portrayed me as a witless censor (and even coined a new word, "Medvedized") while suggesting that consistency demanded my objection to classic suicide scenes in Shakespeare. Frank Rich berated me as a leader of "the usual gang of ayatollahs" in a column titled "How Dirty Harry Turned Commie," comparing my criticism of Eastwood's film to the lunacy of the House Un-American Activities Committee investigating 10-year-old Shirley Temple in 1938. In more than a dozen other commentaries, from the Los Angeles Times to the Houston Chronicle, outraged observers expressed not only disagreement but denunciation of my unpopular position as a skeptic regarding one of the most absurdly over-praised movies in recent Hollywood history.

In other words, the critics don't engage in a reasoned debate on the issue that had Medved all worked up. Rather, in typical fashion they simply attack the person who raised the issue.


Ray said...

Medved has some company. A few weeks ago, David Edelstein, movie critic for Slate, reviewed the film on NPR's Fresh Air. He describes it as shameless, cliched and threadbare. Edelstein also revealed the spoiler, after warning ahead of time that he would do so. You can listen to his review here:


Edelstein doesn't think much of Eastwood, but I thought Mystic River was a terrific film.

I listen to NPR so you don't have to.

Tim said...

Was Edelstein saying the euthanasia subplot itself was "shameless, cliched and threadbare", or was he speaking of the entire movie? Was this a criticism of euthanasia advocacy, or was it a criticism of the movie's/subplot's artistic merit? Medved's criticism was mostly of the former variety, which is why he came under such withering fire.

I listen to NPR so you don't have to.I guess someone has to listen to them. Thanks for the sacrifice.