There’s a new movie in town, “Me Before You.” It’s a love story – with a twist of an ending! The caregiver helps her boyfriend kill himself! Here’s a clip:
There have been a lot of posts in the disability community (see end of this post for some links) over this particular new gem of a flick, but I haven’t seen one from a parent of a child with a disability, a “special needs parent” as many like to call themselves.
And I kind of wonder… why?
Termination rates for fetus’ with Down syndrome are high. There is a constant battle within the Down syndrome community to try and combat that. According to personal beliefs, the battle is usually waged through outright campaigning to make abortion illegal, or through the pro-information movement. That is, to make accurate information regarding Down syndrome readily available to parents who receive a diagnosis.
The plethora of blogs by parents of children with Down syndrome is truly astonishing. So many parents, perhaps once on the fence about disability, are firmly in the pro-Down syndrome camp once they have, know and love their child with Down syndrome. They want the world to know what having a child with Down syndrome is really like; they want to change the climate of understanding and acceptance surrounding disability in general, Down syndrome in particular.
What does this have to do with the movie?
This movie fundamentally perpetuates the idea that people with disabilities want to die. That death is better than life if you have a disability. Get it now? Right. So, if you have a child with a disability and you have been trying to help the world understand Down syndrome or the disability that your child has, this is actually right up your ally. This movie is the type of movie that creates popular cultural myths that if you have a disability, you really are better off dead.
And so, if you have just received a pre-natal diagnosis of a disability, wouldn’t you, after being steeped in this kind of popular myth, be way more inclined to terminate your child? Because don’t people with disabilities really just want to be dead?
Call the bullshit
Parents, you have so much power. You are shaping culture as we know it, you are movers, shakers, drivers and part of the foundation within the disability community. We want you to see the truth in this type of movie, and call the bullshit. Speak up about it: your voice is also crucial.
Talk about the points:
- People with disabilities enjoy their life. Just like everyone without a disability doesn’t necessarily adore every single little component to their life, people with disabilities may or may not love everything, but overall? We love life. We don’t want to die. We like hanging out here on this earth, even if someone has to wipe our ass or feed us.
- Narratives need to change. This movie wasn’t written by a quadriplegic . The actor playing the quadriplegic guy wasn’t even disabled (Crippled Scholar said, “Now I’m sure this casting decision was made because after an exhaustive casting search, the producers could find no self-respecting quadriplegic actor willing to be associated with this bullshit and nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that they definitely didn’t even look at quadriplegic actors“).
Try and replace race here and see how offensive it is – a book/movie duo about the an African American experience that features… a white author, director and actors in blackface. Doesn’t sit so well, does it? It shouldn’t. It’s total bullshit.
- EVEN IF someone became disabled through an accident (as actually happens to thousands of people daily), there is an arc of adjusting and recovery. You don’t just go, “oh yeah, man, you want to die because you can’t have sex anymore, and that’s totally legit, so here, let me help you die.” I mean…? Really?
Life can drastically change and it doesn’t have to be an end to everything, just because you need to learn some new skills (or how to have sex in a different way). Quit making a fucking drama out of it. What you can’t wrap your head around doesn’t mean isn’t there.
Create the Culture You Want
Whether or not we create consciously, we make our culture.
Our Facebook statuses, tweets, the images we post, the content we read, share, expose ourselves to – it all affects this thing called “culture.” You fight hard for your kid – you spend hours with IEP’s, you work with your kid and their IPE. You battle the “r-word”, you go to bat for Able Accounts, for IDEA and for hundreds of other things that will fundamentally affect the life of your child.
Well, this will, too.
People watch this kind of movie, and that idea that a disabled life isn’t worth living is sinking in. Please: join the disabled community in combating this. Call the bullshit. Change the narrative. Talk about the points. Change the culture.
Links to Look at:
Why Are You Even Complaining? Some People Feel That Way, by Crippled Scholar
Hollywood Promotes the Idea it is Better to Be Dead than Disabled, by Dominick Evans
Why does Hollywood keep doing this to the disability community? The Daily (Video, only YouTube crap-captions available)