In the new film “Me Before You,” Louisa Clark (Emilia Clarke) becomes a personal caretaker for the wealthy, paralyzed William Traynor (Sam Claflin). Soon, they fall in love as they both demonstrate to each other the joy of living boldly, but William has ideas of his own: He’s been planning to end his life with the help of an assisted suicide organization and, by the end of the film, goes through with it in spite of his feelings for Louisa. This has sparked a number of sharp criticisms by disability advocates who claim that “Me Before You” argues disability is an insurmountable tragedy and that it “grossly misrepresenting the lives of the vast majority of disabled people.”
Ellen Clifford, a disabled activist with Not Dead Yet, a organizations that campaigns against assisted suicide, tells Buzzfeed News that “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.” Actress and disability rights activist Liz Carr says that “Me Before You” is “offensive to disabled people, the vast majority of whom want to live – not die,” and that their “lives and those of our loved ones are not mired in tragedy as depicted in this film.” Other disabled activists on social media have adopted the film’s #LiveBoldly hashtag and repurposed it, arguing against ableism and euthanasia.
Emilia Clarke is best known for playing Daenerys Targaryen on “Game of Thrones” and Sarah Conner in “Terminator Genisys.” Sam Claflin co-starred as Finnick Odair in the “Hunger Games” franchise, along with Philip Swift in “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” and William in “Snow White and the Huntsman” and its prequel/sequel “The Huntsman: Winter’s War.”
“Me Before You” opens in theaters on June 3rd.