As many of you know, the movie Me Before You has come out in cinemas, based Jojo Moyes’ novel of the same name. This is being referred to as the “movie event of the summer”, but the film and book are much more harmful than they appear. Me Before You has outraged the disability community, and for good reason.
The trailers promoting the Australian movie are incredibly misleading. Will Traynor (Sam Claflin) is a wealthy man who is injured in a motorcycle accident. His injury leaves him quadriplegic and he wants to desperately end his life. He suffers with pain for two years before his family finally agree to wait six more months, and if he does not find a reason to live during this time, they will assist him in suicide.
During these six months he meets a new caretaker named Louisa Clark (Emilia Clarke) and they fall in love. It begins as a beautiful story, but even though Will has found love, he still goes through with his plan, and after six months, ends his life. He leaves Louisa a large sum of money so she can, in his mind, experience a better life and be happier now that he is gone.
The film and book are sending a horrific message to the disability community. I have my own blog that focuses on staying positive with chronic pain, along with organising a website and running a support group based on my own experiences. After posting comments about the movie, I received a message on my blog from a young girl telling me the movie made her want to end her life. This is not an isolated incident, as I have also seen posts in my support group that express similar thoughts.
Many people with disabilities struggle to pay their medical bills in the United States. This film is sending a message to the disabled community that they could have everything: a mansion, a family, fall in love, but their disability would still make them want to take their own lives.
When I was eight I had a serious accident after attempting a back handspring, and as I had been performing acrobatic manoeuvres my whole life, it was not a big deal to me. That day turned out to be a day I will never forget. My form on the handspring was incorrect, thus landing me straight on my neck, and instantly paralysing my arms and legs. My parents called 911 and I was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance immediately. With absolutely no idea what was going on, I was petrified about what was happening to me. I underwent multiple scans and was put into a brace, with my doctors and parents thinking I would be quadriplegic for the rest of my life, and so did I.
All I can think about when I see the trailer for this movie is a young girl in a hospital bed, terrified of always being quadriplegic and thinking that this movie is a love story with a happy ending, when in reality it becomes quite the opposite. I was lucky – the feeling returned to my arms and legs and the doctors said it was a miracle. However, this was just the beginning of an entirely different journey.
On the day I turned 13 I had another trauma to my neck. Due to the scar tissue that was already built up, the injury resulted in four chronic illnesses. I am disabled with chronic pain and have been for the past four years now. As someone who has been quadriplegic and is currently disabled, I find this movie beyond insulting. The disability community wants rights and equality, not movies that promote the idea that disabled people are an inconvenience to the world. The leading cause of death for those who suffer from my illnesses is, unfortunately, suicide.
Since the film premiered, many have feared that suicide rates will increase in the disability community and some groups have released suicide prevention campaigns. By purchasing this book or paying to watch this movie, you are encouraging the ableism that is already so present in modern society. Make the right choice and do not contribute to a movie that is adding to the hardships of those who are disabled. They already have enough to face.
This article can also be found on http://www.the-platform.org.uk/2016/06/21/me-before-ableism/