Me Before You had its London premiere this week, an event that brought out protesters and activists furious with the film's message, a message they say, shouts that anyone in a wheel chair is better off dead.
Calling the movie 'a disability snuff movie', activists are upset at what they say is an inaccurate portrayal of life as a disabled person. While Will Traynor (Sam Claflin)—paralyzed after an accident— encourages Louisa (Emilia Clarke) to grow and move out of her comfort zone, to #LiveBoldly (the movie's hashtag)—Will (spoiler alert) ultimately chooses to end his life and leave the young woman he loves behind.
“The message of the film is that disability is tragedy and disabled people are better off dead. It comes from a dominant narrative carried by society and the mainstream media that says it is a terrible thing to be disabled.”It is a difficult story with Will's decision leaving readers of the book devastated. Actress Emilia Clarke answered the protests by emphasizing this is one character's reaction to his situation, one couple's story, not an entire indictment on the life of all disabled people.
“I think that the movie is a Hollywood movie, but I think that what we are showing is something that we took a lot of care over, with Jojo being there as well, because she wrote the book first, so that’s the story that we were going off. We were very careful with how we wanted to present things. And we are showing a situation, we are not showing an opinion.”
The idea of a woman giving a man a shave is always sexy. Giving a man a bath, not so much.
You can see one of the protest groups and leader Liz Carr confront author Jojo Moyes on the Red Carpet, chanting Rights Not Tragedy at LifeNews.Com."The representation of life as a disabled person in Me Before You is a blurred reflection of the truth. Director Thea Sharrock said that she wanted to avoid portraying the realities of living with a disability in the film, such as being hoisted into a bath or being helped to clean, because she wanted to make Will’s disability “more normal”. In doing so, she strips the character and film of any real meaning.Sharrock is right that disability needs to be normalised, but that will only happen when people like her stop leaving my reality on the cutting room floor."
Me Before You opens this week on June 3rd. Having read the book, I'm curious to see for myself how the film handled the material. I'm also curious to see how the disability activists receive it. While I was one of those readers devastated by the ending of the book, I don't recall hearing a similar furor from the disabled community which makes me wonder whether, even with author Moyes writing the screenplay, the nuanced issues involved with Will's thought process about his life and his future, were left behind.