I thought of Million Dollar Baby earlier today, after a brief chat with a friend. We talked about the inequality of human condition: Why is it that some people are born in prosperity and some others in adversity; Some own a great fortune with no sweat, and some others have to work their ass off to make a living; And what attitude should we have towards such reality? Should we whine or should we fight?
If there is anyone who should feel that this life is unfair, that must be Maggie Fitzgerald, the heroine of Million Dollar Baby. She grew up knowing one thing: She was trash, and she wasn’t never going to be looked at anyway else. Her brother’s in prison, her sister cheats on welfare by pretending one of her babies is still alive, her daddy’s dead and her mom weighs over three hundred and twelve pounds. She was so poor that she had to secretly take home the leftover meal in the restaurant where she works for dinner. On her thirty three birthday, Maggie believed she was celebrating the fact that she would spend another year scraping in dishes and waitressing, what she’d been doing since thirteen.
The only thing that brings joy to Maggie is boxing, which is why she wanted Frankie Dunn, a well known boxing coach, to train her, so that she could throw a decent punch before getting thirty seven. But even that is not easy at all.
In the world of boxing, a woman like Maggie is an outcast, or in a more relevant word: Maggie is figuratively “disabled”, not only because of her gender or her age, but also her living condition and her background.
However, Maggie never whined, never asked for favors, nor did she let anybody look at her out of pity. Maggie refused to be deemed disabled, she chose to go against such disability, to earn respect from other people and take control of her life. Maggie is totally different from her family members who are so dependent on other people’s mercy.
Maggie did not beg Dunn to be her trainer. She fought for it. She tried to show up stubbornly until Dunn giving in. Maggie fought to have Dunn as her trainer, and she kept on fighting to get into the world championship of female boxing, and when Maggie broke down, ended up living with long-term immobility, watching each part of her body cut off, she still keeps fighting to die.
Why did she want to die so badly?
Maggie once told Frankie about her dog, Axel, a German shepherd. Axel’s hindquarters were disabled he had to drag himself room to room by his front legs. And one morning, Maggie’s father carried Axel and went into the woods, singing and howling. Later that day, her father came home alone, with a shovel.
Living such disabled life is exactly what Maggie hates, which is why she asked Dunn to do to her exactly what her father did to Axel. For Maggie, life is about fighting for what we want, and if we stop fighting, it’s time to stop breathing.
One of the most common misconceptions about Million Dollar Baby is that it is a sad movie depicting a poor lady’s tragic life. Well, it’s not. It’s a movie about the victory of a fighter who keeps fighting till her last breath for a dream that nobody sees but herself.