Me Before You has been the main topic within the disability circles I am a part of for the past few weeks, and rightfully so. The depiction of disability within the film, which spurred from the book under the same title, is disturbing; the main character decides that death is a better choice to make than to live with a disability. The film is suppose to be a romantic tale, but I am hard-pressed to see anything related to romance within a story that has a twisted view and understanding about the disabled life, especially when the actual story was written by a non-disabled author, and the main character is played by a non-disabled actor.
Film depictions, and other media portrayals similar to Me Before You’s storyline, hones in on the gross disability tropes that adds to the stereotypes and misperceptions surrounding disability in our society rather than shine a light on what living with a disability actually is like for the largest minority group in the United States and globally. Though I fully and steadfastly support my fellow advocates and allies in their protesting against Me Before You, I have remained silent on the film until now for a number of reasons; reasons that goes beyond the movie storyline. This piece will take a closer look at the issues that stood out to me regarding what the debate is truly about – assisted suicide and disability representation – and the gaps I witness within media portrayals and the faces of the protesters against Me Before You. Me Before You is just the “mouthpiece” that has provided the opportune moment for these matters to be discussed for me – that is more important than rehashing the sentiments my fellow advocates have written and uttered over the past few weeks.