'Pro-euthanasia' film Me Before You panned by disability rights campaigners
27 May 2016
The film stars Emilia Clarke (right) and Sam Clafin (left)
Campaigners for the rights of disabled people are strongly criticising the new film Me Before You, branding it a "disability snuff movie" and objecting to its pro-euthanasia message.
The film, which stars Emilia Clarke and Sam Clafin, will be released in UK cinemas on 3 June.
Disabled actress and spokesperson Liz Carr was among protesters from the group Not Dead Yet who turned up at the film’s premiere at Leicester Square in London on Wednesday, unfurling their banner on the red carpet as Clarke, Claflin and co-stars Jenna Coleman and Joanna Lumley passed by.
Red carpet clash
It read: "Me Before You is not a romance. It is a disability snuff movie, giving audiences the message that if you're a disabled person you're better off dead."
Liz Carr also had an exchange with Jojo Moyes, who penned the book the film is being adapted from (VIDEO BELOW). The author denied that her book gives a pro-euthanasia message.
'Rights not tragedy'
Another one of the protestors was Sian Vasey, who was born with spinal muscular atrophy. She said: “I know the basic plot, which is that the male lead has an accident and becomes disabled, but after a year or so of time in quite a happy relationship then decides that he doesn’t want to be a burden and takes himself off to Dignitas to commit suicide.”
The group chanted their key message: "Rights not tragedy".
As in the book, Me Before You is centred around the relationship between Traynor, a quadriplegic former jet-setting banker played by Sam Claflin (best known for his role as Finnick Odair in the Hunger Games), and his carer, Lou.
The controversy has come from concerns over the message the film sends out to disabled people
"A situation ... not an opinion"
Emilia Clarke, the film's female lead, insisted that it was "never our intention" to upset disability groups.
"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," she told the Guardian.
"We were very careful with how we wanted to present things. And we are showing a situation, we are not showing an opinion."
However, another member of Not Dead Yet, Ellen Clifford described the film’s message as "dreadful".
"The message of the film is that disability is tragedy and disabled people are better off dead,” she told BuzzFeed News. "It comes from a dominant narrative carried by society and the mainstream media that says it is a terrible thing to be disabled."
Ellen, a 38-year-old disabled activist, added that she found the film's plot "deeply ironic", as the disabled character is urging the able-bodied character to "live boldly".
"What about him? The message is that you can’t [live boldly] as a disabled person."
Meanwhile Emily Ladau, a writer and disability rights activist who has a genetic disability called Larsen syndrome, told 5Live: "There’s an assumption that Hollywood is already reflecting what already is reality."
Disability rights campaigners argue the film's portrayal of the central disabled character is deeply troubling