Disability campaigners have slammed the new Emilia Clarke film ‘Me Before You’, branding it 'a disability snuff movie’.
Disabled actress Liz Carr was among protesters from the group Not Dead Yet who turned up at the film’s premiere, unfurling a scathing banner on the red carpet as Clarke and co-stars Sam Claflin, Jenna Coleman and Joanna Lumley passed by.
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.”
Sian Vasey, who was born with spinal muscular atrophy, was also among the protesters.
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, which chanted their protests, also had an exchange with Jojo Moyes, who penned the best-selling book the film is based on.
'Game of Thrones’ star Clarke said 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.”
In the film, Claflin plays a jet-set banker who becomes quadriplegic following an accident, with Clarke playing his carer.
“There’s an assumption that Hollywood is already reflecting what already is reality,” writer and disability rights activist Emily Ladau, who has the genetic disability called Larsen syndrome, later told 5live.
“I would be remiss if I was to say that these feelings of misery and these feelings of wanting to go through assisted suicide are not valid feelings that people do experience, but when these are the constant narratives that are taking over the media, then people start to get the wrong message about disability.
“I would love to see the media flooded with more positive depictions and have something like 'Me Before You’ be the exception rather than what seems to be the rule.
“As much as some people are saying that the story really resonates with them it can also be a very scary thing if that’s something that someone who is newly injured is exposed to, to see that someone has this very defeatist attitude about life with a disability when in fact what we need to be providing is rehabilitative and mental health support to people who are newly injured.
“I only want [people] to know that it’s not so bad on the other side.”
The movie is out across the UK on June 3.
Image credits: PA/Warner Bros