Maureen Dowd: Should Shakespeare Be Censored?

Posted on February 6, 2005

**Warning: Spoilers Ahead for the film Million Dollar Baby** New York Times columnist and bestselling author Maureen Dowd ponders the current outcry over Clint Eastwood's Oscar-Nominated film, Million Dollar Baby. Some conservative pundits, such as Michael Medved, are scathingly critical of the film for its portrayal of one character helping another commit suicide, after a period of lengthy soul-searching. But where does the censorship end, if such films are banned? Will the Bard be next?

Dowd writes: "A friend of mine emailed me Friday to see if I wanted to go to the Folger Theater production of Romeo and Juliet. I emailed him back, fretting: Doesn't that play promote suicide? What's the 411 on those Elizabethan teenagers? Were they friends with benefits who recklessly scarfed down unsafe substances and romanticized death?"

Ms. Dowd concludes, "Michael Moore and Mel Gibson aside, the purpose of art is not always to send messages. More often, it's just to tell a story, move people and provoke ideas. Mr. Eastwood's critics don't even understand what art is. Politics - not art - is about finding consensus with the majority of the audience. Art is not about avoiding controversy or ensuring that everyone leaves feeling morally uplifted."

Clint Eastwood says, "You don't have to like incest to watch Hamlet. But it's in the story."

Million Dollar Baby is based on the short story collection entitled Rope Burns: Stories From the Corner by F.X. Toole (Ecco).

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