Get off my lawn! — Clint Eastwood

smh.com.au
Sidney Morning Herald, Australia

Go ahead, Grandpa, make my grey day

Miranda Devine
February 7, 2009

My GP says every second patient he sees is 90 and they all have the following ailments: “Every joint is gone; all have heart disease, insomnia, bladder problems, incontinence, cancer.” They are “wearing out”. A lot are on 20 different pills and no one really knows how they interact. Some patients shuffle into his office and say they are simply tired of living….(Full Story)

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F4L: Miranda Devine review of the movie “Gran Torino” gives full credit to the feat by Clint Eastwood, who made the movie “Gran Torino” in 32 days and turned it in a #1 box office hit that is even now, after running almost two months, still in number three position.

It is hard to deny success like that, but success in the box office does not mean a tidal change in social attitudes towards the elderly.

Miranda Devine recounts how Walter Kowalski (played by Clint Eastwood, age 78) saves “a young South-East Asian neighbour from local gang members. Like Eastwood’s Dirty Harry, Walt has some memorable one-liners, such as: “Get off my lawn!” – said with a rifle in his hands. Walt sits on his verandah drinking beer and muttering racial slurs at the immigrants who have taken over his Detroit suburb….”

I have not seen the movie yet, but I have seen a fair bit of life.  Unlike what is insinuated in the movie, namely that a 78-year-old Grandpa can succeed in saving his neighbourhood, in real life it is far more likely that he would be neutralized.

He would be neutralized as surely as the sun rises in the East, not by the neigbourhood gangs but by the local SWAT team of the police. A 78-year-old man with a rifle is no match for a SWAT team with body armor, armed and trained for urban warfare.

In real life the end of the story would have come fairly early on, right after Walt Kowalski delivered the Dirty-Harry-like one-liner, “Get off my lawn” – rifle in hand.

Miranda Devine closes her review of “Gran Torino” with:

Why, if old age is all insomnia, worn-out organs and crippling medical costs, does society bother with it? Alford cites an old African saying, “the death of an old person is like the burning of a library”. Old guys remind us there are other ways of being human.

That, too, is a wishful thought, but it is no more influential than to celebrate emerging life at the other end of the range.

Such celebrations are necessary to make the pruning of life at both ends of the age range less acceptable, but for now it is quite alright to kill children not yet born at the rate of about 50 million each year in the world.  The day does not seem far off when the killing in such numbers of those about to die of old age will bother no one any more than the killing of children about to continue life outside their mothers’ wombs does.

Humanity declared children to be a luxury, a luxury we can’t afford and must therefore kill.  Children grow out of being unproductive.  Still, it is doubtful that it is wise to kill children regardless of an age-limit for culling them.  The children we cull don’t fight back.  They are not only innocent but powerless as well.

There are far more compelling reasons for the killing of the elderly.  The elderly are not likely to regain their productivity once they have lost it due to any health reason, even if it is nothing more than the feebleness that comes with old age.  Still, they can, just as Clint Eastwood did in “Gran Torino”, pretend that they have enough power to resist whatever is being done to them. It may make them feel better.

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