Village Voice columnist Nat Hentoff’s recent syndicated column discusses the message and interpretation of Million Dollar Baby. He raises sobering questions (and evokes Monty Python and the Holy Grail—“not dead yet”) about the responsibility of those who argue through appeals to emotion: “New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who vainly aspires to being a moral philosopher, wrote scathingly of those who revealed the ending: ‘The purpose of art is not always to send messages.’ But Million Dollar Baby has a message, which is clear—and deadly.”
Professor Thomas Hibbs has a more nuanced reading in National Review, suggesting that the larger problem is that the film is Nietzschean. Comparing the movie (unfavorably) to Dostoevsky and Mystic River, he argues that Million Dollar Baby “is an offensive film, not so much because of any subversive political agenda, but because of the way it wallows in the physical and spiritual degradation of its main characters”.
And Metaphilm reader Robert Lindsey points us to a piece on Townhall by a writer named Brian Collar who suggests, in line with Dr. Hibbs, that the film is part of the larger clash within American culture: “One segment of society contends that the enduring spirit of mankind can overcome emptiness, while another teaches that life is a nihilistic exercise in time.”