Million Dollar Baby is a touching movie with a deep sense that was directed by a genius person in cinematography world Clint Eastwood. The movie tells the story of a boxing coach who is not prized because of his faults that haunt him from the past and his chase for atonement by lending a hand to an underdog boxer to make her dream of becoming a professional come true. The great ethical dilemma appears on the way of the coach. Other aspects that are showed in the movie are autonomy and self-determination, euthanasia or assisted suicide. Indeed, the movie is full of crucial ethical issues and needs to be analyzed properly since the main questions are if a person can help another one to die, if that one is not yet dying, and if a person can ask for it at all.
One can easily identify with the main character’s suffering. She had a great hope for a better future and glory. However, the horrible events that happened to her left her weak and helpless. She does not have even the least hope for recovery. As a result, she tries to commit a suicide and, finally, persuades her trainer to help her to die. Analyzing the issues that are raised in the movie, one can state that the movie questions such issues as if anyone may ask another person to help him or her to die and if that another one should be obliged. People may take for granted that patients’ autonomy is the superseding ethical mode to which all other contemplations must bend. In other words, common perception states that patients’ wishes must be respected and completed, no matter if a patient asks for less treatment, more treatment, or even doctor-assisted suicide.
However, it is natural that if a person is physically healthy and has wealth, good family, thriving career, and is still asking for help to die, such a request will be found rather hard to agree with. Moreover, doctors will believe that a prima facie successful person is experiencing depression and needs psychiatric treatment and further emotional support. No one thinks that a person who jumped out of the window made the right decision. In contrast, people feel sympathy for such people or simply condemn them for being too weak and silly that they cannot cope with some difficult situations in life that, in fact, everyone is to go through. Therefore, one needs to be able to answer if Maggie’s desire to die was really reasonable. “I had it all” (Million Dollar Baby, 2004), she tells her coach, describing her past that engaged fame, admiration and crowds that repeated her name.
The controversial side of Maggie’s situation is that she was not dying because of her trauma. Of course, she was in a very hard condition, and her life could never be the same again. Nevertheless, if she was not supposed to die in the nearest future because of her trauma, the person who killed someone who could live probably for many more years may be considered a sinner. For instance, Jewish religion never permitted euthanasia (Sandel, 2010). Of course, this religion gives a patient the opportunity to make some decisions concerning his or her health. However, it requires these decisions to be made in a careful manner. Indeed, Jewish regulation does not require the perpetuation of life in all cases, and, in actual fact, when a person is fatally suffering and ill, the religion does not unavoidably require the cure in order to make his or her life longer (Sandel, 2010). Nonetheless, Judaism emphatically states that no one may ever cut down the life of even a fatally ill person. Jewish law advances the protection of life as a moral duty but believes that there are times, mainly when a patient is fatally ill when interference should not be executed. Certainly, from the ethical perspective, people should not be permitted to cut down somebody’s life if a patient is in a very difficult state, but still not dying.
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Maggie’s disability is not a rare case. Many people face the same problem and they have to decide how they should live with it. Some of them become stronger despite the fact that they cannot walk anymore. They believe that all challenges are a chance to prove that a person can do anything because impossible is nothing. Many sportsmen who received serious injuries continue their training. They never back up because the unbroken spirit inspires them to do fantastic things. Some people cannot stand their disability. They become morally weak and vulnerable. They think that life is over and they cannot live the full life anymore. Maggie is one of such people who lost the faith in herself. She does not perceive herself as a winner anymore; she wastes her time on self-pity. No wonder that she starts thinking about ending her life. One may say that everything depends on a person. Somebody can accept the things, while others cannot. However, it is not actually true. Despite the individual character’s features, there is also such a thing as social support. In difficult situations, people require the support of others more than ever. Maggie has been left alone. She lost the contact with the world and spent every day viewing her destroyed life.
According to this fact, it is the mistake of the society that Maggie wanted to end her life. She did not receive any emotional support; nobody directed her when she was trying to accept the new conditions of life. When a person faces a problem, other people should not stand apart. People should help each other, even when nobody asks for the help. In fact, it is a moral obligation of the society. A situation when one should not ask a permission to help but should do what he/she believes right from the ethical point of view. For instance, parents are responsible for their children. They decide what their kids can do and what they cannot do. However, children may have their own opinion, which is not the same as the parents’ one. Nevertheless, parents cannot let their children hurt themselves because of their injudicious actions. Society is a big family, where everyone is a family member. Hence, when a person wants to make something that can hurt him/her or others, people should prevent it.
This ethical issue may lead to another dilemma. When a person wants to hurt another person, it is considered as a crime and police tries to prevent it. However, if a person wants to hurt himself/herself, nobody tries to prevent it. The society takes actions only when a person has already caused harm to himself/herself. Hence, the biggest problem that society may face is indifference. Maggie is a good example of social indifference. When she was a boxer, a society accepts her and praises. However, when she became disabled, everybody forgot about her existence. Probably, in this way, Maggie tried to attract the attention of other people to her problem, though it could be done unintentionally. Her silent cry for help was loud, but nobody was able to hear it. Shneidman, the founder of the American Association of Suicidology, explains such situations in the following example: “The paradigm is the man who cuts his throat and cried for help in the same breath”. According to this fact, it can be said that real problem is not how to help those people like Maggie who want to die, but how to make these people not to want to die.
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Unfortunately, the cultural values that are embodied in the film are a great desire to be popular, famous, thriving, etc. When Maggie loses her fame, strength, popularity and so on, she does not want to live anymore because she does not have all the above-mentioned things. However, she could live for the sake of everything that she had ever had and what was so valuable for her and loved by her. She could be the real fighter in her heart and soul, but Maggie decided to become weak without such material substances, as fame and pride. Besides, she was not totally alone. If so many people loved her when she was a great boxer, they would, probably, love her when she was ill, and, of course, they would feel sympathy for her. Thus, sympathy was, perhaps, the only thing that Maggie was afraid to get since she used to be and watch herself as a strong sportswoman. The decision of the main character of the movie Million Dollar Baby to ask her trainer to help her to die is very cruel. In addition to her cruelty that was oriented on her, she acted not ethically when she asked Frankie to kill her.