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Million Dollar Baby 

(2006-09-19 17:09:04)
       I made up my mind to watch the movie Million Dollar Baby after reading an excellent article, or movie review, An Ode of Failure.
      Before that, all the movie review can not trigger my desire of watching it, and even worse, I questioned about the eyesight of the Oscar's judge. And I don't want to waste my time on the garbage.
      But after that, I'm eager to watch it ASAP.
               
                  
                     An Ode to Failure
                                           By Doyly Dowland

 

Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby tells the story of a young woman who escapes from a life of drudgery by spending her every spare hour in boxing gym. For a while, it looks as if she is talented enough to escape. Then the fates deal her a terrible blow: she loses her championship fight, is horribly injured and persuades her trainer to kill her.

Dirty Harry’s former friends have reacted with horror to the film’s un-American enthusiasm for euthanasia. In fact, the film is most remarkable as an extremely American parable on success and failure. When the heroine gets injured, her trainer is eaten up with guilt. But she tells him not to be so hard on himself: she is far happier to have tasted a little success and ended up a cripple than to have remained a nobody.

Americans have always been excessive worshippers of what William James called “the bitch goddess success”. Self-help gurus have topped the bestseller list since Benjamin Franklin published his autobiography. Americans are much more likely than Europeans to believe that people can get ahead in life so long as they are willing to work hard. And they are much more likely to choose a high-paying job that carries a risk of redundancy than a lower-paid job that guarantees security.

But you can’t have winners without losers (or how would you know how well you are doing?). And you can’t broaden opportunity without also broadening the opportunity to fail.

All of which creates a huge problem: how exactly should a hyper-competitive society deal with its losers? It is all very well to note that drunkards and slackers get what they deserve. But what about the honest toilers? One way to deal with the problem is to offer people as many second chances as possible. In this intriguing new book Born Losers: A History of Failure in American, Scott Sandage argues that the mid-19th century saw a redefinition of failure----from something that described a lousy business to something that defined a whole life.

Yet one of the striking things about America is how valiantly it has resisted the idea that there is any such thing as a born loser. American schools resist streaming their pupils much longer than their European counterparts: the whole point is to fit in rather than to stand out. American higher education has numerous points of entry and re-entry. And the American legal system has some of the most generous bankruptcy rules in the world. In Europe, a bankrupt is often still a ruined man; in America, he is a risk-taking entrepreneur.

American history ----not to mention American folklore----is replete with examples of people who tried and tried again until they made a success of their lives. Lincoln was a bankrupt store-keeper. Henry Ford was a serial failure. At 40, Thomas Watson, the architect of IBM, faced prison. America’s past is also full of people who came back from the brink. Steven Jobs has gone from has-been to icon. Martha Stewart has a lucrative television contract waiting for her when she comes out of prison.

H.L. Mencken had a grumpy verdict on this attitude to success and failure: for him, the typical American was “vexed, at one and the same time, by delusions of grandeur and an inferiority complex”. Delusions of grandeur are certainly common:” American Idol” presents a limitless supply of talentless narcissists, each convinced he is the next Frank Sinatra. Inferiority complexes are common too: America is also full of perfectly successful people who are obsessed by their failure to live up to their self-help manuals. But Mencken still seems too cynical. The worship of success inspires not just extraordinary achievements but also worthwhile failures.

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