Be warned: The following post contains spoilers.It also contains possible anxiety/stress triggers.
In June the movie Me Before You was released. It was based on the 2012 book by the same name and written by author Jojo Moyes.
The main character of the movie, Will, becomes disabled after being hit by a motorcycle while crossing the street. Will becomes a quadriplegic. It was revealed later in the movie that Will’s mother had hired a woman, Lou, to “cheer him up” because Will had chosen to take his life, but was willing to give his mother six months to be with him. Despite differences, Will and Lou fall in love, but Will decides eventually to follow through with his decision to end his life.
It seemed as if the moment people left theaters, the critiques were divided between the able-bodied viewers and the disabled community who flocked to theaters to see some version of themselves portrayed in the movie. The opinions of the disabled were wide-ranged. Some said they were offended that the first time they witnessed themselves as a main character of a major movie, it was represented as if disabled people had a very sad life and were meant only to choose to die, be lonely, or sad, etc.
Others said they were offended that some people thought that because Will had fallen in love, it should have been enough to make him reconsider the decision to end his life. Those same people fired back with thoughts that he should have considered his family and their feelings, as well. Even the parents in the film were divided by the suicide issue.
Perceptions and stereotypes
I was excited to see the movie long before all of this added hype, but then the emotions the movie evoked made me crave to see it even more. I have to say, I was surprised. I think the movie did a good job of outlining some of the thoughts and feelings disabled people experience. But it barely scratched the surface, and for that I am sad.
I recognize, however, that this kind of representation comes from a lack of knowledge that people have about the lives of disabled people. It comes from perceptions and stereotypes. The way to combat it is to have more disabled people share their experiences and insights to their lives. We need more disabled bloggers. Today, you as a disabled person have more access to ways to express yourself than ever before.
A brief word about Will’s decision to commit suicide in the film: I was not offended by this because I feel as if it is no one else’s business and everyone deserves the right to choose how they die if they are struggling from an illness that is only getting worse. But I wish the movie would have opened more doors to conversations about physical-assisted suicide and The Last Rights that people have, instead of making it a black-and-white issue about disabled vs. non-disabled.
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