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Disabled People Protest Against ‘Offensive’ Hollywood Romance

Disabled People Protest Against ‘Offensive’ Hollywood Romance

PRESS RELEASE

Disabled people in Wellington, and in other centres around New Zealand, are this week joining international protests against a movie that they have called "offensive, cliched bullshit, which has denied disabled people the opportunity to tell their own stories to mainstream audiences".

Criticism of the Hollywood film "Me Before You" has come from disabled people across the UK, United States, Australia and now New Zealand. While many disabled critics are angered about the euthanasia plot line, others have criticised the filmmakers for yet again casting a non-disabled actor in a disabled role, while refusing to allow the disabled romantic lead to survive the film.

The organisers of the protest, Paula Booth and Esther Woodbury, have said they are tired of movies where disabled people are portrayed as tragic and pathetic burdens who would do anything to avoid being disabled (including kill themselves), or who exist primarily to inspire non-disabled people. The two disabled women have organised a protest outside the Embassy in Wellington before the preview of the movie.

"We're annoyed because, for once when we do get a disabled romantic lead, he doesn't get to have sex with the person he's fallen in love with, let alone survive the movie. But we're also sick of non-disabled filmmakers thinking they're original and 'boldly confronting the controversial topic if assisted suicide', when Hollywood actually has told the 'better dead than disabled' story over and over again. When are we going to get to see the 'living interesting, funny and worthwhile lives despite low incomes, poorer health, and inaccessible transport and housing' stories?

"The producers of Me Before You seem to think they are doing disabled people a favour - the director, Thea Sharrock, has even proudly refused to show any of the reality of disability, seeing Will get assistance with showering. Instead Sharrock has claimed to have 'normalised' disability despite there being little to no input from disabled people in the making of the film.

“The Me Before You publicity team have pushed back against the criticism from disabled people by expressing frustration that protestors haven’t seen the film and therefore can’t understand the “full complexity” of it. The irony is that the filmmakers feel they know enough about disability to tell disabled peoples' stories, without a disabled author and script writer, director, producers or actor.”

"Me Before You is a story about a good-looking millionaire with a six-pack and Daenerys Targaryen for a girlfriend. This is a disabled man who has all the resources and disability supports he could want, and who can afford to go away on fancy holidays. Most disabled people could never dream of those kinds of opportunities, and yet we still manage to find enough happiness and purpose in life."

ENDS

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