Underlying all of the assaults on those of us who have dissented from the near-unanimous praise for “Million Dollar Baby” is a tone of exaggerated horror that well-known conservatives could dare to question the work of a right-wing icon like Clint Eastwood, pointedly described by Frank Rich as “a former Republican officeholder” and “Nixon appointee to the National Council of the Arts.” I would have thought that a willingness to criticize even a onetime political ally would demonstrate integrity rather than insanity, evincing our determination to evaluate films without fear or favor. On a similar note, I stand proudly by my harsh reviews of the violent movie excesses by a fellow Republican (and former actor) who currently serves as governor of California. Criticizing onscreen work by Mr. Eastwood (or Arnold Schwarzenegger) isn’t the equivalent of indicting their character or politics, any more than my previous praise for, say, Tim Robbins as an actor or director amounts to an endorsement of his character or politics.
Maybe the surprise that Medved would disagree with a fellow Republican isn’t all that exaggerated, but a projection of how many liberal critics themselves think. The only prominent liberal film critic that I can think of who has attacked any of Michael Moore’s documentaries is the late Pauline Kael. (On a purely coincidental note, she wasn’t crazy about Dirty Harry, either.)