Friday, February 5, 2016

Moderately Good Drama, Definitely Bad EOL Medicine in "Creed" and "The Choice"

Two recent movies highlight the gulf between the dramatic/romantic myths our culture holds onto about end of life issues. [SPOILER ALERTS] In "Creed," the seventh film about Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), Rocky gets cancer. Initially, he says he does not want treatment. He has done everything he wanted to do, no one is depending on him, and he does not want to go through the miseries he saw his late wife experience. It would be great to see this kind of decision portrayed as rational and legitimate, but in the world of this movie it exists for dramatic purposes, so that Rocky can have another fight -- the fight against cancer.

And in the new Nicholas Sparks movie, "The Choice," a young wife and mother is on life support following a car accident. After months go by without any improvement, all of the medical specialists advise her husband that there is no hope and he should let her die. But he insists on keeping her on life support until magically she wakes up, like Sleeping Beauty, as though nothing had happened. This romantic myth, that true love can bring back someone the doctors say is gone, makes for a great happy ending but what we need is more movies that tell the real story of how families can do a better job of caring for terminally ill people.

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