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Friday, June 15, 2007


Remember Million Dollar Baby, a four-Oscar flick, with Clint Eastwood playing the tired old boxing coach picking up a girl (Hillary Swank) as his protegé, seeing her through the boxing championships, till she literally falls to bad luck in the final bout?
Now, the point is that I think the whole world is full of high-powered idiots. Like the guys who awarded the Oscars to this splendid movie. Now, I say this because the scenes in the hospital, which make for the climax, are atrocious. Let me now tell you why. The heroine, who trips and breaks her first and second cervical vertebra (what is otherwise known as a broken neck) is on a ventilator with a tracheostomy. In plain English, she was paralysed and was being kept alive by a machine that pushed in oxygen through a tube inserted in a hole in the windpipe. So bloody what, you ask? Admirable sentiments, I must admit. Much as I hate to carp at an otherwise great movie, the girl keeps talking even though she is on a trach. Now, every doctor will tell you that a trached patient can not speak, because the air doesn't go through the voice box anymore. Why couldn't the director (Clint) have researched this well and avoided a crucial faux pas? Why, he could have called me for any help. My consult rates are very standard: just a thousand per hour. Dollars, of course!
The boxwallahs have goofed up on medical issues all the time. It makes me worried how reliable the other things we learn from cinema must be. For example, biologists must have developed hernias laughing while watching the pseudos in Jurassic Park create new dinosaurs from mummified mosquitoes, or whatever it was at that time! Similarly, the guys who deal with Artificial Intelligence, like Ray Kurzweil, must be getting their stress lines ironed by watching The Matrix, or MI-3. One exception seem to be climatologists who seem to think that movies like The Day After Tomorrow or Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth are cinematic versions of the textbook truth.
In Bollywood movies, the best of the movies lose their beans when it comes to hospital scenes. For decades now, it seems that a hero with a bullet injury will escape death the moment the bullet is removed from his body. And if he has lost blood, no problem, his long-lost brother will miraculously come forward and we are treated to a great spectacle of modern medicine: direct transfusion from one hero to the other. No cross-matching, no HIV testing, etc. Who has the time, bro?
Similarly, a critically ill patient is rushed into an operation theater and anesthetised with a mask, sometimes even with a red rubber catheter in the nose. Gawd! Them things don't exist no more, guys!
At the rate in which the medical idiocy is profitably progressing, I feel a heartfelt tug to start a medical consultation firm based in Mumbai. Later I could open up an office in Hollywood. Maybe, outsource this to India, has anyone done that yet?


Paper Fan Club said...

It must be hard to go to the movies (or watch the likes of ER or House) with someone who can spot what is authentic and what is just thrown in for the sake of dramatic effect! I hope you at least buy the popcorn. :)

B. Ramana said...

Ya, the know-it-all party pop-er who can read all the corny bits right down to the kernel! I am halfway there!!

Mahendra Palsule said...

I was going to suggest you add this "goof" to IMDB, then decided to check first, and found it was already there! "Although people can talk using "fenestrated" tracheostomy tubes, they can't be ventilated at the same time."

Check the other goofs at

B. Ramana said...

What on earth is imdb?

B. Ramana said...

Ok, I got it! International Movie Data Base!
Interested folks can check it out here.