Trailer Talk: Me Before You and Its Horrible Representation of the Disabled

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Trailer Talk is where we discuss movie trailers and make snap judgments/ predictions (Many of which turn out to be wrong later) 

Disclaimer: For those who are unaware I am disabled having been born with cerebral palsy. All opinions here are mine and based on my experiences. They are not meant to be generalized as the experiences of all those who are disabled.

Starring: Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin

Director:  Thea Sharrock

Release Date: June 3rd 2016

The many things this trailer got wrong:

  1. It frames disability as a fate worse than death or that disabled life is meaningless

This is bullshit. Being disabled is by no means ideal but it isn’t a cause for suicide as these trailers suggest. The disabled can live a full life (more on that below), adapted perhaps but full nonetheless. Being disabled has its challenges but the likes of Stephen Hawking are proof that having a disability should not exclude someone from achieving extraordinary feats.

2. The disabled are there to inspire the able bodied to live life to the fullest

I am troubled by this notion simply because I am living proof that being disabled does not mean you can’t live just a full a life as anyone else. Thanks to the wonderful people around me and sheer will, I have managed to travel, graduate from university, develop strong relationships, engage in various acts of tomfoolery and basically do what any other 20 something would be doing. For the record I have attended multiple concerts, I have no idea why they make that such a big deal in the trailer. By no means am I saying it’s easy or that I am sky diving every weekend or something like that but the idea that someone who is disabled is somehow incapable of living and living well is ludicrous

3. The disabled should be pitied.

I just want to be treated like everyone else. I have found people to be uncomfortable mentioning my condition when around me, this is a true fact BUT I think that in most cases this discomfort is easily lifted with some dry humour. If you happen to be disabled and reading this, my go to tactic when meeting someone for the first time is to bring it up and utilize self depreciating humour.

I’ve found that by doing this people are more comfortable and over time it becomes a non issue. In fact the people closest to me happen to be the ones that joke the most about it and it makes for a great icebreaker as well.

At the end of the day, it comes down to confidence, I have learned to present myself as 125% confident in whatever I do because that self image reflects and is read by the people around you. Internally am I always as confident as I seem? Fuck no but present yourself strongly and eventually the social awkwardness in public will disappear.

4. An able bodied man is portraying a quadriplegic

This I have less of a problem with. Similar to my stance on diversity, I think that all people should be given a shot at a role (if they have the talent). The issue (for me) is getting Hollywood to recognize and cast disabled actors in general roles. For example I do not see any reason why a disabled person couldn’t play the lead in the next Judd Apatow filmconsidering they are usually roles that require minimal physical ability. We have seen actors like Peter Dinklage overcome conditions and put on great performances, I trust that there are disabled actors who have talent that are simply not been given the opportunity.

Stray Observations

  • That Ed Sheeran track that plays in this trailer amps up the cheesy factor by 10000%
  • I have not read the book and do not know anything beyond the trailer but I would bet solid money on one of two outcomes:
  1. He magically heals himself using some ex machine surgery that has a 90% chance of death but he beats the odds
  2. He dies undergoing said ex machina surgery but leaves behind a lasting memory for Emilia Clarke’s character to live by
Nate Lam
Nate Lam
Editor-in-chief of Before The Cyborgs. Part time filmmaker and occasional short story author. One day he hopes to be as cool as Bill Murray. Follow his latest work on Before The Cyborgs or follow him on twitter (@NateTheCyborg) to get the latest updates.



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